Creative Services honored as best in-house design team by UCDA

The Colorado State University Creative Services team won the Judge’s Choice award at the 2016 University and College Designers Association Design Competition for best in-house design team. The entry included work from CSU’s photography, video, creative, and web groups.

“I am most proud of the work that we do on a daily basis,” said Elias Martinez, assistant vice president for brand strategy and creative director in the Division of External Relations. “While it’s great to be recognized, it’s even better that our campus partners continue to rely on us to help them achieve their communications goals — that’s the real win.”

Martinez, who attended the UCDA annual conference in San Antonio in September, said he had no idea that Creative Services had won one of the three judges’ choice awards presented until this video played near the end of the award ceremony:

The judge, Dan Woychick, wrote in detail about his choice on his blog, published before the big reveal:

“I admired this entry for the variety of high-quality work submitted and the number of people who contributed. From a trade show booth to a strategic plan to publications and simple icons, every last pixel was treated with exquisite attention to detail. More than the consistent use of a typeface or colors, it was this refusal to settle that made each piece stand out on its own, yet hold together as a consistent and engaging “look.” To pull that off across such an array of work is incredibly difficult, and well worth celebrating.”

UCDA is the only design association specifically for educational institutions where members are recognized, rewarded and valued. The UCDA Design Competition recognizes the best of the exceptional design work done to promote educational institutions.

More awards

This year’s competition attracted 1,075 entries; a total of 210 awards were presented. Colorado State brought home four of those, including the judge’s choice.

“The variety of awards we received shows that the work created by our in-house team holds up against anything else being done today,” Martinez added. “We were competing against a number of schools that submitted work they developed with large national advertising agencies and boutique design firms. We’re able to make a difference for the university with the work we do right here on campus.”

Tom Milligan, vice president of external relations, agreed.

“No surprise here, as the quality of the work moving our brand forward from Elias and his team has been extraordinary,” he said. “This is a terrific accomplishment, and brings great acclaim to the university, since UCDA is an organization that is international in scope, and whose key message is ‘design matters.’ I am extremely proud to be working with professionals of this caliber, on behalf of Colorado State University.”

The Creative Services team also won:


The Award of Excellence for Outdoor Advertisement went to “This is Our State” RTD Light Rail Wrap, designers Cameron Nelson and Kate Wyman, writer Lindsay Connors, photographer John Eisele, and Martinez as creative director.


The Award of Excellence in Identity Programs for the CSU Warner College of Natural Resources Identity Program went to designer Ari Curtis, designer/art director Cameron Nelson, writer Rob Novak, photographer Bill Cotton, project coordinator Mark Hanson, web developer Kevin Bickel and creative director Martinez.


The Silver Award in Exhibit Display Graphics for the National Association for College Admission Counseling Recruitment Display went to designer Lauren Kroll, writers Lindsay Connors and Evan Moore, project coordinator Mark Hanson, marketer Christine Campbell, and Martinez. Only 10 Silver Awards were presented this year.

These accolades come on top of CSU’s social media team winning a coveted Webby for their work and the public relations team being named the best in the state by the Colorado chapter of the Public Relations Society of America earlier this year – a trifecta for the division.