Skip to main content

Ringling Students Create 2016 Sarasota Film Fest Poster

Ringling Students Create 2016 Sarasota Film Fest Poster

| Sande Caplin |

It’s got to be a student’s dream to secure real world experience before they graduate. Thanks to Ringling College of Art and Design’s Collaboratory initiative and the Sarasota Film Festival’s inviting students to design, two Ringling students have the winning design for this year’s Sarasota Film Festival (SFF) poster. Gisselle Tirse, a junior in Game Art & Computer Animation and Nikelle Mackey, senior in Business of Art & Design are the artists, and their impressive work is featured on SFF’s posters, festival mailings, playbills and sponsorship ads.

According to Cynthia Gravino, Associate Vice President of Collaborative Enterprises at Ringling, “One of the students cried when she found out she won. To have this level of exposure in our own backyard, that has national and international exposure, is a surreal experience.”

Ringling spokesperson Rich Schineller said,

“The Film Fest came in with a printed poster, which the girls hadn’t seen yet. One girl had to sit down …”.

So taken by the experience and the generosity of the Film Fest folks, who even gave the girls framed editions for their own collection, and had them sign others for VIP gifts, these Ringling students must be still floating.

This is the first year Ringling students have been selected for the Sarasota Film Fest’s branding efforts and it makes perfect sense to participate with our locally talented youth since the festival supports arts and education all year long.

 “The Film Fest CEO and staff were incredible to work with and so generous,” Gravino said.

The Work
The poster was created with hand drawn and computer generated art. Both girls worked as a team, and the team-creation process is one of the foundations of the Collaboratory experience for students according to Gravino.

Soft and watercolor-like, its images and tagline, “Find Yourself in Film,” seems to transcend time, and could be as applicable to the 1920’s as it is today. It’s a piece of art Gravino said she’d hang in her home. A woman with head-dress features manatees, film pieces, and other intricacies that incorporate a totality of the Sarasota Film Festival 2016 and should create even more excitement in the minds of attendees who will be rushing to experience this year’s big event.

The Process
This was a weekend competition in which a dozen or more students volunteered to participate. A faculty facilitator ran the project. The SFF CEO came in and presented his vision, giving ideas of what they were seeking for this year’s branding. The students asked questions and were left to create. At the mid point, images were presented to be certain they were going in the right direction, and at the end, students actually pitched their work and the thought behind it to SFF. This is real world experience at its finest.

“The work by our students is all so good it’s a struggle to pick just one,” Gravino said. “It took them awhile to decide. The Film Fest team was so incredibly supportive. They thought our students could do what couldn’t be done in the past. They were an incredible group to work with. This speaks volumes for art and design in Sarasota.”

Gisselle Tirse and Nikelle Mackely

Additional Ringling Student Involvement
Student shorts and college feature films have also premiered at the SFF. The motion design students have created the animations and logos (for which they just won ADDY awards) for this year’s Film Fest.

According to Ed Cheatham Ringling College Program Head, Motion Design, “This has been the sixth year that our Motion Design sophomores have created animations for the festival. This year’s project focused on creatively highlighting the iconic SFF logo. The animations will be seen before each of the festival selections to entertain the audience while presenting a unique interpretation of the SFF brand.”

Bradley Battersby, Ringling College Film Program Head, said, “We’ve very much enjoyed our relationship over the years with the Sarasota Film Festival. They have premiered two of our Ringling College feature films, ‘The Lucky 6’ and ‘Veterans of Color’, and are showing a number of our student short films this year.”

Ringling College Studio Lab Director Tony Stopperan said, “The Sarasota Film Festival has provided a rare platform for young filmmakers from Ringling College to showcase their art. As the writer and producer of Ringling-supported ‘Paradise, FL’ I saw firsthand the impact the SFF validation meant to our films’ young alumnus director – Nick Morgulis – and the 16 other Ringling filmmakers at our Sarasota Opera House premier and subsequent sold out screenings at the Sarasota Film Festival last year.’

The Collaboratory
The Collaboratory, a partnership between Ringling College of Art and Design and The Patterson Foundation, is an opportunity for Ringling College students to put their skills to work in a professional setting, while also providing businesses and brands with innovative, relevant design solutions from some of the nation’s most talented young artists and designers. Whether you’re a student or a client participating in the Collaboratory, you can choose to engage in a number of ways, from a one-day workshop to a long-term, multi-semester engagement.

Established in 2014, The Collaboratory is now at the point that they guarantee each incoming freshman real-world experience when they choose to participate.
“We’re the only school we know of that guarantees this…they are working on real projects,” Gravino said.

General Motors (GM) actually worked with the students on automotive design, a field the students may not have even considered. According to Gravino, “the CEO said he’d learned so much from the students, more than he had in years of business.”

Sarasota Film Fest
Held annually, The Sarasota Film Festival emphasizes the best in cinema alongside exciting programs and events, with more than 180 films screened each year including features, documentaries, shorts, and kid-friendly picks. Entering its 18th year, see the best new and veteran independent filmmakers at the Festival with local and kid-friendly programs that showcase our idyllic Gulf Coast community.

Its mission: To celebrate the art of filmmaking and the contribution of filmmakers by hosting an international film festival and developing year-long programs for the economic, educational and cultural benefit of our community.

For more information on the 2016 Sarasota Film Festival, go to For information on the Ringling School of Art & Design Collaboratory, visit:

Photos: RCAD Rich Schineller

Sarasota Film Festival

Skip to content