Alumni Atelier Ambassador, Tina Sommers is currently creating a mixed media collage project inspired wholly by Savannah. Sommers graduated from SCAD with a B.F.A. in graphic design and has returned after a successful career as an art director.

Sommers’ Atelier commission is to make 20 large scale, color collages; the majority will be photo and design based, printed and mounted in a variety of ways, while the rest will be mixed media and made of found objects. Each individual collage will represent a different destination in Savannah, such dining, hospitality, cultural and retail locations, including many SCAD locations.

Texture, pattern, and color play a role in her work.

Texture, pattern, and color play a role in her work.

Savannah’s beauty and culture were part of the reason Sommers was initially drawn to SCAD. She explained how she had visited the city as a young girl and hoped to return. “It was such a beautiful place – and so different than where I grew up. I loved the squares and the southern mentality,” Sommers said.

Sommers still frequently visits Savannah, and was readily prepared to choose locations for her commission. She said, “I chose places that I thought represented the city and sort of defined the Savannah experience. And, of course, places that I love to go!” Her list includes destinations such as The Savannah Bee Company, The Gryphon Tea Room and The Mansion on Forsyth.

Sommers collects inspiration from local companies and restaurants.

Sommers collects inspiration from local brands.

In order to begin her process, Sommers visited each of the locations and spoke to the owners to gain permission for her project and discuss the brand. She also gathered ideas and inspiration from the locations, before returning to take photos for the final collages.

Tools for collage making.

“My goal was to capture essence of what makes the venue unique, while keeping the series cohesive and representative of Savannah as a whole,” Sommers explained. “For example, there were fresh flowers out at the Collins Quarter when I visited and that’s so rare these days that I really wanted to include them.”

Sommers gravitated towards the fresh flowers in Collins Quarters.

Not all venues were welcoming to Sommers’ plan. “Some places took some convincing and there were a couple that just said no, they weren’t interested,” Sommers said. She cited branding concerns as the reason behind most of the reluctance but said the “free advertising” factor usually won out in the end.

Sommers said she would like to return to corporate art directing at the conclusion of the Atelier program. She had been working as a free-lance artist prior to her Atelier commission and, though she enjoyed the change, Sommers is ready to work for a larger company again.

“When you work for a big company, there’s a real sense of the nine-to-five; there’s your work life and your home life,” Sommers explained. “As a freelance designer, those lines get blurred. You can go for weeks without any real jobs and then a client can call you in the middle of the night and need work right away.”

Samples from Sommers’ Atelier commission – the collages representing SCAD – will be on display during “Atelier Vitrine” at ShopSCAD from May 20 – June 6. Her work will be part of a larger installation also featuring the commissions of the other Spring 2016 Atelier Ambassadors, Bradley Bowers and Jordan Graves. The installation opens with a reception on May 20 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

You can read about the other current Atelier Ambassadors or learn more about the Alumni Atelier Program here.