It is la rentrée, back-to-school time around much of the world this month, which involves a host of September activities not least of which involves the selection of courses. Though generally considered a college ritual, our twelve-year old was recently asked to choose among a series of arts-related offerings at his school, which included everything from making mosaics to digital filmmaking.
To our considerable surprise, he elected to participate in none of these: instead, he chose Graphic Design.
I think his choice may have been inspired by the smart-alecky tendencies that befall many children of graphic designers: that is, he fantasizes that he will unsettle his teacher by impressing the class with his rarified knowledge of hanging punctuation, oldstyle figures and ligatures. ("If the teacher tells us to use Comic Sans," he whined, "I'll just lose it.") Nevertheless, this middle-school course description got me thinking: now that graphic design has become such an integral part of consumer culture, everyone makes things that involve words and pictures. Everyone takes pictures. Everyone thinks visually, from Facebook and Myspace (which oblige their authors to consider things like page composition) to YouTube, which offers a compelling and arguably limitless canvas for exposition. Graphic Design is everyone's business.
Yet once Graphic Design is introduced in the classroom, how do educational offerings differ? I soon discovered a fascinating diversity of approaches: from "the guiding principles of good visual communications" in Seventh Grade to "development of a verbal and visual vocabulary to discuss and critique the designed world" for Yale undergraduates. I found Introduction to Graphic Design offered to grammar and high school students, in community colleges, in extended-learning (read "night school") classes across the United States and Europe. Some classes focus on research; others on form. Some reinforce design principles by actively steering students away from digital means, while others see paper as an anachronism, opting instead for screen-based design methods as an expression of a more progressive paradigm.
Graphic Design remains today, as it has always been, a field requiring no professional certification. Which doesn't mean you don't need to enroll in a course to learn how to do it right. Herewith and in the spirit of la rentrée is an extremely random sampling. So shine those shoes, sharpen those pencils, upgrade that hard drive and sign up today. Who knows? Maybe you'll learn a thing or two about hanging punctuation.
Berkshire County Day School, Lenox, MA
Introduction to Graphic Design and Digital Art (Grade 7)
This class will introduce students to the guiding principles of good visual communications. The main focus, however, will be a series of lessons in Adobe Illustrator, the industry standard for creating artwork on a computer. Illustrator is the starting point for animations used in everything from games to movies. Students will learn a variety of tools and effects from Bézier curves to 3-D images to vector graphics. A portion of the curriculum will include both Photoshop and InDesign and how these programs, with Illustrator, can be used to produce everything from posters to books. The class will be project oriented and each student will produce a portfolio of work.
Maine College of Art, Portland, ME
GD 101: Introduction to Graphic Design: Letters, Logos, Symbols
Students are introduced to the process of designing letterforms and symbols. Emphasis is placed on learning formal and proportional relationships and exploring the expressive and abstract characteristics of type. Unique visual compositions in which typographic forms play primary roles in communicating ideas are created, while proper use of graphic design tools and materials are learned. Elective: 3 credits/semester; 6 hours/week. No prerequisite. A lab fee is charged; see rate schedule.
Bridgewater State College, Bridgewater, MA
Introduction to Graphic Design
This course consists of two assignments a poster depicting an historical period in the history of visual comunication, and a 'block' of four U.S. postage stamps. In both assignments, you will learn the various processes involved in making visual communication intended for print production. Form and content will be explored. Client expectations and intended audience will be discussed. Conceptual skills and technical/production procedures will be covered. This course is structured to facilitate your understanding of and participation in the process of making graphic design from initial choice of a topic through working stages to finished presentation.
Bronx Community College, New York, NY
Art 83: Intro to Graphic Design
Introductory course to Graphic Design, focusing on the relationship between image and type and the fundamental elements of page layout. An emphasis is made on developing students' conceptual and technical skills, artistic vocabulary, and professional presentation skills along with the use of a variety of media. Numerous projects and exercises throughout the semester range from the development of graphic icons to the design of promotional pieces. Students are expected to have a professional, serious attitude. Lateness and absences will not be tolerated; you must show up on time and to all classes. Assignments must be handed in by the deadline given and be up to professional standards; I expect you to treat your work with respect. This is a college-level course, designed to prepare you for a career in the commercial arts you must be responsible, dedicated, and professional!
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL
Art 210: Intro to Graphic Design
Introduces the discipline and function of graphic design; explores the organization and structure of two-dimensional space as context for visual communication; includes practical exercises in visual perception, visual organization, and visual communication. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing in graphic design curriculum or consent of instructor; concurrent registration in ARTD 211 by students in graphic design.
Louisiana State University Shreveport/Continuing Education, Shreveport, LA
FA 210: Introduction to Graphic Design
Are you ready for a semester-long graphic design course? Fine Arts 210 is an LSUS credit course that has been opened for public registration. The course is designed to be an introduction to computer design programs and their use in graphic design and fine arts applications. Throughout this course you will explore the uses of Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator as they apply to both personal artwork and real-world design. You will also be introduced to the Macintosh computer and operating system.
Camberwell College of Arts, London, England
Introduction to Graphic Design/Short Course
This paper-based course steers clear of computers, as the emphasis is on pushing you to your creative limits exploring ideas and producing images to communicate your message. A lot of hard work is expected both during and between the classes, as you learn about layout and typography, refine and discuss your designs. Practising designer Michael Aranow aims the class at those currently on the fringes of the design world and for people who are looking to build a portfolio for their art college application. Whatever your personal objective, you'll certainly develop a greater appreciation of the commercials, posters, logos and other images that are constantly competing for our attention.
Tacoma School of the Arts, Tacoma, WA
Introduction to Graphic Design
This course will introduce the role graphic design plays in everyday life and business. Our primary focus will be on strengthening your CONCEPTING SKILLS, VERBAL COMMUNICATION (through ongoing critiques), and your ABILITY TO DEVELOP CREATIVE SOLUTIONS within the restrictions of a given project.
Columbia College High School Summer Institute, Chicago, IL
Introduction to Graphic Design
Designed to expose students to the wide range of opportunities in graphic design, students will work on projects dealing with corporate identity, brochures, direct mail materials, posters, packaging, and exhibition design. Techniques and materials that are used in graphic design to communicate visual concepts will be explored. Students will be responsible for bringing their own supplies. A supply list will be reviewed on the first day of class.
Pennsylvania College of Technology/Penn State, Williamsport, PA
Art 210: Introduction to Graphic Design
Introduction to equipment, materials, techniques, and working methods appropriate to graphic designers and other visual designers. Discussion of employment opportunities and job classification. Experience with ads, logos, corporate needs, book covers, and restaurant menus. 3 Credits.
Thiel College, Greenville, PA
Art 240: Intro to Graphic Design
This is a course intended to give an introduction to computer graphics applications to the beginning art student. The course will introduce applications of graphic design, the tools of the trade, and the requirements of the industry. Emphasis will be placed on creative problem-solving skills, concept development, and traditional hand/board skills. The course will also introduce page layout software. Special emphasis will be placed on the aesthetics and functionality of the picture plane, as well as the basic types of images that are included in the organization of a layout.
Nuova Accademia di belle arti, Milan, Italy
Intro to Graphic Design: "Find Your own Sign"
This summer course is for beginners who seek an introduction to graphic design. Students will explore the links between urban communication and graphic design; examine the use of graphic design in the contemporary artistic and professional world; and develop a visual vocabulary and technical skills to generate successful images. Students will be guided to produce, edit and design a portfolio of images.
Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA
Basic Typography Communication Design I
This is the first studio for students in the communication design program. Students explore the fundamental principles of typography, where type is regarded as an image that serves a variety of communicative purposes. Projects allow students to explore issues of form and meaning, hierarchy, legibility and readability, structure and composition, and the design process. While typography is a highly focused branch of communication design, this introduction to type as image serves to open a path for students to study all facets of communication design in subsequent courses. Students use both traditional materials and design tools as well as computers. Special tutorials provide basic instruction in software such as InDesign and Adobe Illustrator. In addition, we will also discuss some of the key figures, philosophies, and technologies that have shaped typography. The course will also include a demonstration of letterpress operation in the Design Department's Lab Press and a guided visit to the Hunt Library's Rare Book Room.
Yale University, New Haven, CT
Art 132: Introductory Graphic Design
A studio introduction to visual communication with an emphasis on visual organization of design elements as a means to transmit meaning and values. Topics include shape, color, visual hierarchy, word/image relationships, and typography. Development of a verbal and visual vocabulary to discuss and critique the designed world. Materials fee: $150.