Art students create magazine together while apart

cover of ArtFusion Spring 2020ArtFusion magazine is produced every-other-year by and for Black Hawk College students. It features essays, digital drawing, photography, painting and other student works.

When the college’s ART 248 – Production and Prepress class went completely online in Spring 2020, creating the collaborative, 36-page publication became a challenge.

Given the circumstances they faced, students renamed this year’s magazine ArtConfusion.

“This has certainly been the most challenging ArtFusion edition to brainstorm, discuss and design,” art professor Zaiga Thorson said.

“Navigating how to complete the course and still create an innovative and student-driven editorial magazine became quite the challenge,” she said.

The biggest challenge? Communication, the students said.

“Even though we weren’t working in the same location, we were still able to give each other feedback on the spreads we were creating via our course management system,” said Lillian Smith of Rock Island.

Patience, the students learned, was part of the process.illustration of 8 people headshots

“Zaiga Thorson was extremely patient with all of us,” said student designer, artist and writer Abigail Kongkousonh of East Moline.

“She gave us feedback as often as possible and did her best to make our situation as light-hearted as possible.”

The class came up with a mantra – “Keep calm, wash your hands, and keep designing!”

“The humor was still there,” Thorson said. “And the students were able to feed off of one another’s ideas, suggestions and encouragement.”

East Moline’s Kaylee Hanger said adjusting to off-campus classes was not easy but the whole class thrived.

“We all would encourage each other and provide moral support,” she said.

Hanger was in charge of producing the digital photography spread and the first page of the magazine. “Those spreads were a lot of fun to complete!” she said.

illustration of 4 people headshotsIn addition to artwork, the students learned teamwork.

“We wanted to make this magazine the best it could be, and teamwork is an important part of making that a reality,” said Smith, who designed five of the pages.

The coronavirus pandemic definitely gave the art students a unique learning experience.

“I learned so much this past semester,” Kongkousonh said. “This magazine showcases how Black Hawk students create. It shows how we can work together apart.

“Hopefully people can see that when they look through the magazine.”

View ArtFusion online.

Printed copies of the magazine will be available later in June.

Want a copy? Contact Zaiga Thorson at