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UWA student displays her creative skills at the state Capitol

2022 Alabama Voters Guide cover

The front and back covers of the 2022 Alabama Voter Guide.

Gandy designed cover of 2022 Alabama Voter Guide

Story: Phillip Tutor | Photos: Submitted

Shelby Gandy laughs while admitting she “was never the athletic one out of me and my sisters.” In her Sumter County family, she was the one who enrolled in art camp, who attended painting classes, whose personality always leaned to the creative side. Art rarely strayed far from the center.

“It's definitely been my entire life,” she said.

A junior at the University of West Alabama, Gandy now has a significant artistic achievement in her portfolio -- winning a statewide competition last fall to design the cover of the official 2022 Alabama Voter Guide. Alabama’s primary elections are on May 24, with if-necessary runoffs on June 21. The state’s general election is on Nov. 8.

In February, Gandy traveled to Montgomery to meet with Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill and Director of Elections Clay Helms, who lauded the design and gave her four copies of the guide. The guide is also available as a free download online at the secretary of state’s website (https://www.sos.alabama.gov/).

Gandy, an integrated marketing communications major, plans to graduate early in December and then pursue a graduate degree. 

“She's one of our outstanding juniors,” said UWA’s Greg Jones, assistant professor of digital communications. “And, honestly, her design work is terrific.”

Shelby Gandy at the state Capitol.
UWA student Shelby Gandy met last month with Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, left, and Director of Elections Clay Helms.


Last fall, students in one of UWA’s advertising classes submitted designs for the statewide competition. That advertising agency class, said Dr. Amy Jones, chair of the Department of Communications, “was kind of the immediate, perfect fit for that because they're advanced graphic students, one, and two, because that's really the type of work they do. And I was really impressed with the work in that class.”

After a few initial designs failed to impress, Gandy’s vision crystalized around an image of a stack of mail on a wooden table, with a postcard featuring a photograph of the state Capitol in the center. The guide’s back cover incorporates Merrill’s contact information into another stack of postcards. 

Gandy’s name and university are included in the credits inside.

“One of the things that we have built our programs on is doing outside work, not just classroom work that's for a project for the class, so that their portfolios reflect outside professional work,” Dr. Amy Jones said. “And the whole point of that (advertising) class is for it to represent other entities and businesses outside of the university and do real work for them that go in these students’ portfolios.”