Graphic design is all around us, in a myriad of forms, both on screen and in print, yet it is always made up of images and words to create a communication goal. This four-course sequence exposes students to the fundamental skills required to make sophisticated graphic design: process, historical context, and communication through image-making and typography. The sequence is completed by a capstone project that applies the skills of each course and peer feedback in a finished branding project suitable for a professional portfolio.
This week we are going to look at how images function in terms of conveying denotative and connotative messages, I’ll show you a range of analog and digital imagemaking techniques and discuss how they work. In the first peer review assignment you’ll create your own series of images, experimenting with formal techniques. Later, you’ll have the opportunity to rework those images to enhance their ability to communicate an idea through connotation in an optional assignment: give it a try, it’ll help you develop your communication skills as well as your formal skills!
This week we are going to look at typographic terminology and the basic rules for creating typography. I’ll show you a range of tips and techniques for working with type, in both a functional and expressive manner, and you’ll find out about the process involved in making and controlling typography. This week you’ll complete a quiz to make sure you understand the language of typography–this is required. we also highly recommend you complete the two optional peer review assignments. In the first assignment you’ll create your own typographic monogram, and you’ll use that as a central element in designing a typographic business card in the second assignment. Give them a try, they are the place where you can demonstrate and apply your formal skills, and the place where you get to play with type!
This week we are going to look at how designers work with shape and color as their fundamental building blocks. You’ll learn about visual contrast, color, rhythm and pattern in design. I’ll be showing you the process involved in making an abstract design from shapes, and how to use that element to create a repeating pattern design. You’ll be completing a quiz (required!) to make sure you understand how visual contrast and color work, and I also highly recommend you complete the two optional peer review assignments. In the first assignment you’ll create your own simple and complex design motifs, and you’ll use them as the central elements in designing a repeating pattern in the second assignment. The assignments are optional, but they are the place where you get to demonstrate and apply your formal skills, so well worth taking the extra time to complete!
This week we are going to look at how designers work with visual contrasts, cropping, hierarchy and direction in single images and complex compositions. You’ll find out how to control and use scale, weight, direction, texture, and space in a composition, and how to compose work that ranges from the complex to the minimal. In the first peer review assignment you’ll create your own abstract compositions that demonstrate your knowledge and control of visual contrast. In the final optional assignment, you can use all your skills from the entire course to create experimental compositions in the form of a poster for a mythical band. This last project is optional, but I strongly suggest you try it out, it’ll let you grow and apply your design knowledge and really enjoy and express yourself in your design work!
In this section we’ve provided some useful resources for students wishing to further their studies in graphic design. The information was authored by Calvin Rye, MFA alumnus of the Graphic Design program at CalArts in consultation with CalArts’ Graphic Design faculty and our Office of Admissions. In addition to some advice about selecting the right program of study, we’ve also included some tips for creating and presenting a strong, organized portfolio and writing your artist statement. These are essential components of any application to a graphic design program, as well as a freelance graphic designer’s toolkit. Regardless if you are applying to schools or looking for work in the field, we hope you find these tips and resources useful to your goals.