Before you pick up a pencil, sit down in front of a computer or open the scanner, there are two elements of graphic design you need to know: how to turn an idea into a visual message, and what you can bring to it as an artist. You’ll learn how to hone concepts down to their most critical components, how to under-stand the psychology of the audience, and how to best communicate and persuade using visual language. You’ll discover the impact that shape and color have on emotion. You’ll explore letter-form and typography. You’ll keep your skills broad—delving into web, animation,film, information design and narrative design. Your techniques and thought process will evolve into your individual design process and become valuable career tools.
Though MECA student Jonathan Novak stayed local for his summer internship, his work with local company VIA was of a global scale. While working for creative director Kevin Phillips, Jon was a major participant in a number of projects with impact stretching far beyond the borders of Portland. Over the course of the summer, Jon designed the mark and execution for a New York event being thrown by members of VIA, met with clients to develop concepts alongside other interns, and worked on several music videos and photo shoots.
“Before this internship, I had no knowledge of the advertising industry,” Jon recalls. By summer’s end, however, he had been given “a context for what advertising actually is and does,” gaining invaluable skills along the way.
One of the most significant things Jon learned was how to best create concepts and think creatively, mostly through his involvement in every step of the design process. “I was able to be heavily involved in the brainstorming and concepting aspect of the projects we worked on and it gave me many insights into how to think critically and creatively,” Jon explains, also noting that he developed better presentation skills through the reviews of his concepts. He also learned to work within a creative team, having been grouped with two other interns for most of his projects. “It was challenging at times to navigate and resolve the dynamics of having several different creative approaches to a single creative problem,” he admits; “in the end, though, it yielded much stronger and more rewarding results.” He also became more well-versed with Adobe creative software, in particular noting that his Photoshop proficiency increased dramatically.
Kevin similarly recalls Jon being involved in a great deal of projects, from helping to “concept, develop and bring to life a global campaign” to doing brand design and administration work. “He has taken on even the less glamorous tasks with a thoroughness and seriousness required,” Kevin says of Jon’s work, adding that “He has approached everything with eagerness and keenness.” He further commends Jon’s willingness to ask questions, desire to understand the industry and ability to come to a “greater understanding” of the design process. All in all, Kevin says, “Jonathan has been fantastic to work with... he has become a good friend and i cannot speak highly enough of him and his work.”
Jon was ultimately highly satisfied with the internship, describing it as a “great experience. I was placed under two great creative directors who involved us, listened and responded to our input and gave us responsibility on the live projects they were working on.” Though he admits he is unsure he wants to continue onto a career in the realm of advertising, he believes the lessons he has learned will carry over to whatever he ultimately does - and that, should he one day choose to pursue advertising, “I would want it to be at VIA.”
Mark is a type designer, typographic designer and founder of TypeCulture, a digital type foundry and academic resource. He has designed and produced typefaces for over 25 years, and has also created short documentary videos and collaborated on projects with Alice Design Communication, the design studio founded by Margo Halverson and Charles Melcher. His lettering and typefaces have been shown in numerous exhibitions and have received awards from the Type Directors Club and the Association Typographique Internationale.
He has lectured, conducted workshops and taught graphic design, typography, letterform design and type history at colleges in the U.S. and Germany. He has also been a typographic consultant to the Hewlett-Packard Research Laboratories in Bristol, England, and for URW Software & Type GmbH in Hamburg, Germany.
Mark graduated with a BFA from Kent State University and completed his graduate studies in 1983 at the School of Design in Basel, Switzerland.
Graphic Design Faculty - Mark Jamra
Jen Micoleau '10
WHAT’S YOUR BACKGROUND?
I got my Bachelor of Arts at American University in D.C . in ’95. After that I worked full-time at a law firm and, as a hobby, got involved in ceramics and sculpture. I decided I really wanted to give it a chance – go to a real art school full-time.
SO YOU STUDY SCULPTURE?
I thought I was coming back to school to study Sculpture—but it just wasn’t me. Then I started Graphic Design and saw the psychology in it and the scientific, rational approach, which is very much a part of me. It was a gradual shift.
WHAT ARE CLASSES LIKE?
Everything builds on everything else. There’s a process and an approach – it’s deliberate, it’s taught in a way that everyone can keep up and follow along. The small class size makes a big difference –- there were only six others in my first design class.
How do you prepare your students for the real world?
Reality-based projects along with academic investigations, collaborations with local businesses, internships, studio visits in NYC, Boston & Portland, working collaboratively, continuous assessment of results, continuous analysis of the audience for any given project.
What are the prerequisites to major in Graphic Design?
6 credit hours of graphic design: 2 intro classes to major.
Will I be able to incorporate other media or interests with my work as a Graphic Design major?
What are some of the classes that are offered in your department?
Text in the Environment, Expressive Narratives, Information Design, Visual Identity Systems, Advanced Typographic Design, Advanced Letterform Design, Web Design.
What are some of the unique aspects of this program?
- One course in letterform design more than most other programs have.
- The emphasis on interdisciplinary study.
- A conceptually coordinated program of study.
What are the faculty like?
Motivated, occasionally superhuman.
What are some examples of internships your students have done in the past?
Angela Adams, Martha Stewart publishing in NYC, drift surfing magazine, JDK (Burton snowboards) in Vermont, American Eagle Outfitters, LLBean, Portland Museum of Art,
How many students (juniors and seniors) do you typically have in your major?
What software does your department use?
CS5 Adobe suite, Maya, Motion, Final Cut, Soundtrack Pro, Flash, AfterEffects.