Career training and culture coalesce at MITT

Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology

When the Downtown Winnipeg Biz put out a call for street banners to celebrate the Year of the Monkey (“Fire Monkey”), students in Jan Hamilton’s Graphic and Print Technician program (GPTech) at Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology answered the call, submitting 22 amazing designs.

One of those designs – by MITT student Zhiling (Lucia) Liu – won the competition. Lucia’s nine-foot banner is exemplary of the program’s goal, which is to teach students the entire print production process from design and pre-press, through printing and post-press finishing.

On a more personal note, it was also an opportunity for Lucia, who is originally from northeast China, to create an artistic celebration of her traditional Chinese culture.

“When I got the task, the elements just jumped out of my brain,” recalls Lucia. “All I needed to do was to assemble them in a proper colour and position.”

Each aspect of her design is rich in meaning. The branch extending down from the top right corner is winter sweet – a traditional motif of Chinese water colour that denotes praise for winter and anticipation of spring. The background is decorated with 100 Hou characters to make the poster feel “gentle and dignified” according to Lucia. And the vertically arranged Chinese characters of Bingshen Nian and Hou, along with the stamp in seal character, are expressions of Chinese calligraphy culture, she says.

Shortly after winning the banner competition, Lucia’s artwork was installed high above the street in Winnipeg’s Chinatown District – a tradition that dates back to 1991, when the Downtown Winnipeg Biz started displaying banners as a means of cultural celebration and wayfinding.

Read more about Lucia’s success here.