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The First Friday Art Walk in Topeka occurs on the first Friday of each month all around Topeka. Graphic By

The First Friday Art Walk in Topeka occurs on the first Friday of each month all around Topeka. Art galleries around the city open up their spaces to exhibit these once-a-month shows to varieties of visitors including Washburn students, art-lovers and locals.

The North Topeka Arts District along North Kansas Ave. is a more condensed area of galleries, antique shops, restaurants and bars. It is a growing arts district new to Topeka with the potential to bring more art into the community.

At the heart of NOTO is the NOTO Community Arts Center, 922 N. Kansas Ave.  At this September’s First Friday, Washburn’s AR 223 “Graphic Design I” students displayed their work at the arts center with help from Washburn’s graphic design professor Azyz Sharafy.

“I got in touch with the businesses and I told my students to work with the Topeka businesses to get real-life experience- so I gave them the addresses and contact information,” said Sharafy.

Graphic design students from spring 2012 and this fall semester were given the assignment to design posters promoting Topeka’s local businesses.

“We worked in class, did critiques and saw the results. We got back to the businesses to get their approvals,” said Sharafy.

The posters, promoting businesses such as Studio 831, Topeka Carnival Supply and The Eclective, could not be used without the approvals from the businesses.

“Part of the students’ learning is getting the approval for the business they were working for- that’s how real graphic design works.”

Washburn’s AR 233 students had a show last year on Kansas Ave. at CoreFirst Bank.

“This year we decided to combine the SOTO show from last year with NOTO for more promotion,” said Sharafy. “I think it’s a good way for students to make a connection.”

Part of being an art student at Washburn is developing connections with the Topeka community.

“Being able to connect with a business gave me a taste of what I would be doing in the real world,” said Tiffanie Locke, graphic design major.

Locke designed a poster promoting Personally Yours- a gift shop located at 3601 SW 29th St.

Locke is just one of the 20-30 graphic design students who got the opportunity for this real-world experience.

“I was excited about the project because that’s what I want to do- graphic design,” said Locke.

NOTO has direct partnerships with Topeka Public Schools and Washburn’s Mulvane Art Museum, allowing for more connections in the arts within Topeka.

“The connection between the businesses and art department and Topeka develops a community,” said Sharafy.

Connections in the art world are key when promoting, whether it be promoting an artist’s own work or promoting a business with design help from the artist.

“A lot of people don’t know what we teach- this project is a good way to promote our graphic design,” said Sharafy.

Anyone that missed Sept.’s First Friday can attend the Oct. 5 art walk.