Mitchell Volk illustrated the April print issue of Isthmus exactly one year ago, noting the arrival of spring with his metamorphosis of larva to butterfly. He also provided a fun digital animation to view online.

At the time, Volk was working full time at Hiebing, an advertising agency in Madison. He left not long after that to return to his first love, teaching. He is now in his second semester as a full-time lecturer in graphic design at UW-Madison. One of the first projects he came up with was to “Make an Isthmus cover.”

“Wait, are we actually making Isthmus covers?!” one student asked excitedly when Volk introduced the project.

“Well no,” Volk responded, “but if you’re interested in doing this for real you can reach out to their art director.”

Fresh off designing his own Isthmus cover, Volk says the idea came quickly to him. Half of the students knew about Isthmus and half didn’t.

“I thought it would be a good combination of trying to make an image that is striking — something you can see from a newsstand — and also have it be about something local to the Madison area and potentially talk about issues going on currently or things to be celebrated.”

Volk has an ulterior motive. “I’m secretly trying to get them to care about their community, which I think is really important. That’s also when graphic design gets powerful — when it starts to combine effective communication with the things you care about and the people around you.”

He also hoped to instill in his students a deeper love for print. “I think they all appreciated printed things a little bit more after the project.”