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Six Degrees of collaboration

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Design, design, design. That's what it's all about. Throw in a little creative marketing, a bit of zealous second-semester senior entrepreneurial job-hunting and a DIY embrace of the dinosaur artform of print media, and you have Six Degrees, this spring's coolest zine.

Editor-in-Chief Caroline Okun and a team of graphic design students from North Carolina State's College of Design have created a fabulous, engaging portfolio. Page after colorful page of the debut issue drips with illustration, found text, photography and intricate digital universes. It brings cut-and-paste to a whole 'nother level.

The image-heavy Six Degrees might make you think of Adbusters, with its two-page spread of Wal-Mart next to a clear-cut forest, all painted in an American primitive style by Jon Knox Griffin. Graham Misenheimer's ironic travel poster entices readers to "Come Visit Beautiful & 'Sunni' Iraq" (all for only "$666 plus tax"). In a photo collage, designer Sarah Ensminger reminds the viewer that "we have the means to make a difference" and "the pen becomes the sword." Asked about some of the political gestures tucked into the designs, Okun comments, "I think you have to be aware of what's going on both locally and globally to be a good designer. Experience and knowledge will never hurt the scope of your design."

Okun scans Print, Eye, Ste, Vogue and Metropolitan Home for fun, but "I keep my eyes and mind open all the time. Some of the best ideas come from walking down the street." Her never-fail cure for creative block? Starbucks coffee and almond ice cream.

You'd think that this glossy creation must've been a well-funded College of Design project, but support from the school came only in the form of good advice (software developer Red Hat was the financial sponsor). Okun says, "There wasn't a lot of money to use up front for printing, which is one reason I went with the on-demand self-publishing company lulu.com. I ordered one copy from Lulu as a proof, then made my changes, uploaded a new version and opened the doors for business." Lulu is based in Morrisville, and you can print or download your own copy from their Web site (www.lulu.com).

Six Degrees received submissions from all over the campus, from freshmen to grad students. Some of this year's graphic design juniors have already expressed interest in helping as editors, doing layout and working on the Web site (www.sixdegreeszine.com) through the coming year. Issue No. 2 is planned for May.

Contributing writer John Valentine can be reached at ajcg@duke.edu.

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