Designers persuade, inform and delight through visual means. Today’s designers also offer guidance to sophisticated clients and develop design strategies and tactical approaches to meet a spectrum of needs and challenges across business, social, and cultural territories. Through a mixture of training and experience in visual communications design, the program develops students’ creative ingenuity and problem-solving capabilities, while expanding technical and visual skill sets across industry-relevant media, materials, and environments. Students strive to develop strong, individualized portfolios that demonstrate risk-taking and inventiveness in form and concept.
The curriculum incorporates experience in the following areas:
- communication design
- corporate identity / branding
- editorial design
- motion design
- environmental graphic design
- information design
- packaging design
- design for web and mobile environments
At the heart of the visual communications design program is a laboratory-like studio setting—where an active community, informal peer-interaction, and opportunities for collaborative output help inform students’ preparation for professional practice. A small program within a large university, students receive individualized attention from design faculty and access to a growing K-State alumni network, within the context of broader resources and opportunities found at a large academic research institution.
Because designers are increasingly called-upon to communicate and collaborate across a diverse range of cultures, markets, and industries, students are also encouraged to enhance their intellectual, creative, and conceptual problem-solving capabilities through study in areas such as writing, business, art and art history, economics, philosophy, marketing, architecture, ethics, history, and sociology, for example.
Students at the senior level are usually allocated permanent studio space in Willard Hall, the campus hub for art, art history and graphic design. Located near the center of campus and adjacent to the university’s main research library, Willard is also home to the Mark A. Chapman Gallery and an annual visiting artist program that brings to campus noted artists and designers, art historians and art critics each semester.
In addition, students have access to the university’s library collections and Media Development Center for lab use, equipment checkout, and technical support.
AIGA Student Group
Our local AIGA student group is very active, often traveling to national conferences or events, arranging studio tours, bringing in influential contemporary designers, and informing majors of networking, event, internship and job opportunities. (AIGA is the largest professional organization of designers in the United States, and provides a broad range of information, experiences and networking opportunities for both up-and-coming and established designers).
Students are expected to seek out and complete a professional internship experience between the Junior and Senior year. Most summer internship applications are due in the early Spring. Internships are an integral part of the undergraduate educational experience, not least in providing further networking opportunities and helping to enhance resumes and portfolios. Certain internships can be used for art-elective credits (see faculty for procedures and details).
Students are encouraged to broaden their education and understanding of design in global and cross-cultural contexts through study abroad. There are many flexible options for study abroad programs, varying from a few weeks to a full semester immersion experience. Many opportunities do not interfere with one’s standard graduation timeline. Those interested in learning more about the possibility of a study-abroad experience, please contact faculty as soon as possible upon acceptance to the design program.
CAR (Concentration Admissions Review)
Students are accepted to the visual communication design concentration through CAR (Concentration Admission Review), which takes place every Spring. Students interested in transferring to K-State for graphic design will need to plan accordingly (as they are not exempted from the CAR review requirement, usually taking place in February or early March, for enrollment in the Fall).http://art.ksu.edu/undergrad/car.html
Recent Invitational Design Lectures
- Tad Carpenter, Carpenter Collective, KS (2017)
- Abbott Miller, Pentagram, NY (2016)
- Michael Braley, Braley Design, NY (2012 & 2016)
- Kit Hinrichs - Hinrichs & Associates, CA (2015)
- Richard Kegler - P22 Type Foundry, NY (2014)
- Bill Gardner, Gardner Design, KS (2013)
- Chip Kidd, Random House, NY (2013)
- Jim Sherraden, Hatch Show Print, TN (2012)
- Luis Fitch, Uno Branding, MN (2011)
- James Victoré, James Victoré, Inc. NY (2011)
- Art Chantry, Art Chantry Design Co. WA (2010)
- Lanny Sommese, Sommese Design, PA (2010)
- Eric Benson, Re-Nourish, IL (2009)
- Katherine McCoy, McCoy & McCoy, CO (2008)
All students accepted into the graphic design area (through CAR, Concentration Admissions Review) will be required to have a laptop computer that meets certain criteria.
Mac (or PC) Laptop (design industry standard is Mac)
15-17 inch screen
At least Dual Core 2.2 GHz (preferred 2.4GHz Intel Core i5 or higher)
4+ GB RAM
Very highly recommended: Automatic back-up service such as Carbonite or Mozy, or a back-up portable hard-drive.
Adobe CS 5+ Design Standard, and After Effects; or Adobe CS5+ Master Collection
Optional Secondary Hardware:
19+ inch monitor
Wireless mouse, Wacom tablet, etc.
Design Track (Courses)
(subject to change)
290 Typography and Design Principles
Fall, Junior Year
310 Studio I (3)
400 Computer Imaging (3)
Spring, Junior Year
420 Studio II (3)
576 Advanced Type (3)
582 Internship (highly recommended but not required for graduation)
Fall, Senior Year
580 Senior Studio A (3)
Spring, Senior Year
580 Senior Studio B (3)
410 BFA Show & Portfolio (2)
Recent Undergraduate Work
(H&S Identity and Packaging by Jason Wright)
(Digital Magazine Publication Design by Evan Hall)
(Collaborative Identity Project by Wyatt Ackerman and Erin Olson)
(CosmoPop Packaging by John Duggan, Kelsey White, and Liz Stack)
(IPM Identity and Packaging by Brianne Roberts and Kelsey White)
(frames from Motion Identity Reveal Project by Abbie Smith)
(Magazine Spread by Ashton Brasel)
(Design 1 Advertisement by Derrick Weishaar;
Senior Studio Candy by Himmelberg, Walker, and Wright)
(Magazine Spreads by Jason Wright)
(Environmental Display Mockups by Julie Sebby and Tommy Dryer)
(Mobile App Design by Ashton Brasel)
(Book Cover Series by Jason Wright)