Art and Design sophomore Katie Kuehl’s artwork will soon be criss-crossing the country thousands of feet in the air.
Kuehl is the winner of a contest to design the outside of University alum Richard Rogel’s new Learjet.
Rogel, a wealthy businessman, often lets University President Mary Sue Coleman and University professors use his current plane for free.
Rogel decided to find a University student to design a maize-and-blue paint job for the plane. He worked with the School of Art and Design to hold a design competition.
“I wanted to reward students for their creativity,” Rogel said.
Kuehl’s design is reminiscent of the football team’s winged helmet. It features a blue nose, maize cockpit area and a maize-and-blue stripe running the length of the plane along the top. There’s a block ‘M’ logo on the tail.
Rogel began advertising the competition on the Art and Design career website on Aug. 20, offering a $500 prize to the winner.
When the contest ended Aug. 27, Rogel said there was an obvious winner.
“It was clear what the best design was,” he said. “But there was another one that came very close, so I decided to add a $100 second place prize.”
Kuehl had never entered a design competition before.
“I thought my design was good, but I was surprised when I found out the day after submitting it that I had won,” she said.
It’s fitting that Rogel would ask students to design his plane. He’s the chairman of the Michigan Difference campaign, a member of one of President Coleman’s advisory committees and a former Alumni Association president.
Art and Design freshman Sean Thompson came in second place.
Like Kuehl, the football team’s helmets inspired Thompson. He also included a multi-colored block ‘M’ in the design and a large sun in his design, which was meant to symbolize the University’s ideals of excellence and social awareness.
John Luther, a career development coordinator in the School of Art and Design, said work on projects like Rogel’s is essential to students because they each customize their own bachelor of fine arts program.
“Students need freelance opportunities, contests, exhibitions and internships to build their portfolios,” he said. “Contests especially are a way for students to play with the real world and earn money on top of it.”