School of Media, Culture & Design

Graphic Design

Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.)

Graphic Design is the art of visual communication. Ranked as one of the top 25 programs nationally by GD USA Magazine, the degree results in strong competitive portfolios that stand out in the profession. Students can focus their portfolios in Entertainment, Advertising, Publications, Environmental, or Motion Design.

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Design Your Future

Graphic design students gain the knowledge, experience and networking skills necessary to build successful careers in both digital and print design. Learning to investigate people’s wants, needs and patterns of behavior, students develop designs that respect social and cultural movements. Our students use typography, images, diagrams, motion, sequencing, color and other elements to create projects from branding and publication to Web and app designs. Small class sizes allow individual attention from professional faculty, nurturing each student’s talents. The result has been job placement in top design firms and entertainment agencies and numerous international and national design awards. Students have achieved recognition in entertainment, Web, app and advertising design as well as environmental graphics, photography, packaging and identity design. Students in graphic design receive a rigorous education resulting in strong, competitive portfolios that stand out in the graphic design industry.

2014 Spring student graphic design show, "Graphicacy." Photos by Susanica Tam

Internships & Careers

Internship opportunities:

  • Disney Imagineering
  • Warner Bros.
  • The Autry National Center
  • MTV Networks
  • Universal Studios
  • Saatchi & Saatchi LA
  • The Getty Center
  • 20th Century Fox
  • Disney Consumer Products
  • LA Chamber of Commerce
  • Mattel Inc.
  • Screen Actors Guild Foundation
  • Eclipse Advertising, LA
  • Princess Cruises
  • BabyFirst TV
  • Munchkin Baby Products
  • Wellen Surf
  • Fiesta Publications

Internships are a required component of the BFA degree in Graphic Design.

Career opportunities:

  • App design
  • Art direction
  • Book design
  • Branding and identity design
  • Collateral design
  • Creative/design direction
  • Environmental design
  • Exhibition design
  • interactive media
  • Packaging design
  • Print design
  • Print production
  • Publication design
  • Signage and wayfinding design
  • UX design
  • Web design
Alumni Spotlight
Alumnus

Kris Helmick

Kris Helmick is Co-chair for the SEGD Los Angeles chapter and joins the Board as the Chapter Chair Liaison. He is a Designer and Project Coordinator at Hunt Design (Pasadena, Calif.) and specializes in signage, wayfinding and exhibit design projects. Some of his recent work includes the National Park Service, The Walt Disney Company, Texas Children’s Hospital, Los Angeles International Airport and the cities of Santa Barbara, Glendale and Pasadena. He has also led Hunt Design’s site assessment, sign location, GIS, and documentation team, and has co-conducted evaluations for dozens of sites. Kris is a graduate of Woodbury University and holds a BFA in Graphic Design.

Alumnus

Evan Ohl

As a recent graduate of the Graphic Design program, Evan is a brand and design manager at Scorpion Internet Marketing. His work includes branding, print, package, and web design. As a student, Evan’s design work was recognized by Graphis International New Talent, and published in Communication Arts magazine as one of 16 students showcased nationally for the finest work being produced by visual communication students.

“I’ve developed so much, not only as a designer but as a person, through this school.”


— Evan Ohl, Alumnus

“Every single one of you has made a huge impact on my life. And I can’t thank you enough for being part of my journey through college.”


— Jennifer Nassef, Alumna

“If it weren’t for you, I don’t think I would have found and finished my internship so quickly.”


— Philina Chan, Alumna

“Thank you for your advice and guidance. In the end, I have work that I am very proud of.”


— Sara Lind, Alumna

“I saw that you have faith in me and it made me have faith in myself.”


— Leesa Poli, Alumna

“You allow for the student’s voice to be heard and for the student’s design style to be present throughout the design process.”


— Louise Vierra, Alumna

Graphic Design Awards

Woodbury’s graphic design students have won over 75 international and national design awards in branding, package design, logo and identity design, poster design, advertising, and entertainment. The International Design Awards named a Woodbury student as the “Emerging Designer of the Year.”

Facilities

Graphic design students have access to all Mac and PC labs, each equipped with 16–20 computer stations that include all necessary software for print, interactive and motion courses as well as word processing and presentation software.The labs also have scanners and printers that allow both laser printing and large-format plotter printing. Additionally, the university has an extensive digital fabrication lab with laser cutters and 3D printers.

Senior graphic design students have access to a designated senior studio with individual working spaces for both digital and production work.

Courses

The graphic design program is a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree designed to prepare graduates to enter professional practice. Students learn the art of visual communication through the study of design, aesthetics and media. A Woodbury graphic design student engages in a sequenced curriculum that develops the expertise required to enter multiple areas of the professional design world.

FOUN 101 Beginning Drawing
This is a fundamental course in freehand observational drawing. Various media and methods are introduced to develop perceptual and technical drawing skills. Through in-class projects and outside sketchbook practice, students study line, shape, form, proportion, perspective, and tone with an emphasis on spatial relationships and the effects of light on form. Drawing and composition are also studied as an opportunity to express conceptual content in individual design processes. Studio. 3 units. Prerequisites: None.

FOUN 102 Design and Composition
This course introduces students to the elements and principles of design and to the processes of design thinking. Formal visual properties of line, shape, form, pattern, value, texture, and sequence are studied in their relationship to content and compositional organizing systems. Studio exercises using various media explore concepts of balance, harmony, repetition, rhythm, scale, and time in two, three, and four-dimensional organizations. Emphasis is placed on developing creative design concepts, gaining practical problem-solving skills, and communicating project solutions visually and verbally. Examples of historical and professional art and design are presented so that students may recognize their influence on contemporary design and to relate their own design efforts to a larger cultural context. Studio. 3 units. Prerequisites: None.

FOUN 103 Color Theory and Interaction
This course investigates the principles, properties and interactions of color as well as the cultural and psychological implications of color across disciplines. A variety of media and sources are introduced through weekly exercises. Students will develop a working knowledge of additive and subtractive color systems, color mixing, and approaches to color harmony as well as an understanding of practical issues such as color matching, correction, and forecasting. Design thinking, as it applies to visual communication, is also considered in this course as an agent for mindfulness and engagement. Studio. 3 units. Prerequisites: None.

FOUN 104 Drawing Concepts and Composition
This course builds on the direct observational drawing skills gained in FOUN 101 Beginning Drawing. Color media and a variety of subjects, including life models and exterior environments, are explored through in-class projects and outside sketchbook practice. Emphases are placed on developing individual expressive sketch techniques, bringing a point of view to the drawing experience, and realizing the visionary opportunities for drawing in the innovative practice of art and design processes. The work of professional artists and designers is studied to provide additional context for this investigation. Studio. 3 units. Prerequisite: FOUN 101 Beginning Drawing. (FOUN 105 Introduction to Figure Drawing may be exchanged with FOUN 104 as a FOUN requirement except in the case of Animation majors who are required to take FOUN 104).

FOUN 105 Introduction to Figure Drawing
Building on the observational drawing skills and methods gained in FOUN 101 Beginning Drawing, students in this course gain a practical understanding of the rhythms, proportions, movement, character, and anatomical structure of the human form. Through in-class study and outside sketchbook practice, additional emphasis is placed on developing the ability to visualize and adapt the human form for use in their design and related disciplines. Studio. 3 units. Prerequisite: FOUN 101 Beginning Drawing (FOUN 104 Drawing Concepts & Composition may be exchanged with FOUN 105 as a FOUN requirement except in the case of Animation majors who are required to take FOUN 104).

GDES 260 History of Graphic Design 1
This course provides a study of the historical evolution of Graphic Design and its influence today. The course will examine how graphic design responded to, and affected international, social, political, and technological developments since 1450. Emphasis will be placed on the development of visual and written communication from the industrial revolution through World War II. Lecture. 3 units. Prerequisite: WRIT 111 Academic Writing 1.

GDES 265 History of Graphic Design 2
This course is a study of graphic design during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, focusing on Late Modern, Postmodern and contemporary movements in design affected by advancements in computer and digital technologies. Students will discuss the work of major individual designers as well as national and international styles and design movements. The course will examine how graphic design responded to, and affected international, social, political, and technological developments since the 1970s. Emphasis will be placed on the development of experimental design, Post Typographic Revolution, motion graphics and visual communications. Lecture. 3 units. Prerequisite: GDES 260 History of Graphic Design 1.

GDES 391 Design Symposia 1
This course explores and studies current art and design events in the Los Angeles area. Students will attend lectures, museums, galleries, exhibitions or other events exploring a variety of topics, and analyze and discuss the experiences. Lecture. 1 unit. Prerequisites: GDES 265 History of Graphic Design 2; GDES 288 Graphic Design 2.

GDES Design Symposia 2
This course provides a focused exploration and study of current historic art and/or cultural events and exhibitions in the Los Angeles area. This research will expand on the study and experience from Design Symposia 1. Students will attend lectures, museums, galleries, exhibitions or other events exploring a variety of topics, and analyze and discuss the experiences. Readings and discussion of experiences will enhance the analytical perspective of the student. Lecture. 1 unit. Prerequisite: Design Symposia 1.

GDES 450 Professional Practice
This course provides an examination of business procedures used in the graphic design industry. Students will develop a formal business and marketing plan with graphic components that include identity and promotional elements. Emphasis is placed on entrepreneurial strategies, professional issues and relationships, project procedures, business management, ethical issues, copyright, contracts and pricing. Studio. 2 units. Prerequisites: GDES 288 Graphic Design 2 and WRIT 112 Academic Writing 2 or WRIT 212 Rhetoric and Design.

GDES 491 Degree Project Research
Through study of various forms of design research methodology, self-directed study and research, students develop a proposal for their degree project. The course is broken into four modules that deal with the components of the Graphic Design project: topic development, information analysis, conceptual thesis and contextual framework. Through weekly meetings and seminars, students discuss their research as it progresses to a final degree project proposal. Studio. 2 units. Prerequisites: GDES 265 History of Graphic Design 2 and GDES 310 Information Design.

GDES 106 Graphic Design 1
This course is an introduction to the field of graphic design, exploring the creation and function of design as a tool of communication. Emphasis will be placed on understanding principles of visual organization and vocabulary of design, as well as the design development process, including composition, research, concept development, execution and presentation of work. This course is also an introduction to the tools of design, including typography, color and composition in both hand and digital formats. Studio. 3 units. Prerequisites: None.

GDES 116 Typography 1
This course introduces the student to the fundamentals of typography, including its theory, practice, technology and history. Students will study typographic vocabulary, anatomy, proportion, grids, hierarchy and legibility. Students will also study the analysis of typographic solutions and their impact on visual communications. Studio. 3 units. Prerequisites: None.

GDES 216 Typography 2
This course focuses on intermediate-level studies in typographic communications exploring student awareness of typography as an informative medium that carries aesthetic and social meaning. Emphasis is placed on extensive application of type to visual communication projects and the responsibilities inherent in working with visible language. Studio. 3 units. Prerequisite: GDES 116 Typography 1.

GDES 240 Photography 1
This course provides an introduction to digital photography and digital camera operations covering lighting, composition, exposure and the the fundamentals of traditional photographic concepts. Exploration of creative and technical issues in photographic output are covered. Students will also gain instruction in imaging software application including image editing, printing, and color management. Studio. 3 units. Prerequisites: None.

GDES 256 Web Design 1
This course is an intermediate studio exploring the best practice and current trends of front-end web development while experimenting with various methods of organizing and mapping of information to integrate layers of content into a non-linear, interactive narration. Studio. 3 units. Prerequisites: GDES 107 Digital Practice and GDES 116 Typography 1.

GDES 285 Logo & Identity Design
This course is an intermediate studio in the design of logo and identity systems. Students will design marks for various businesses and organizations, as well as explore both contemporary and historic corporate logos and their evolution. Emphasis is on the application of logotypes and typographic issues in logo design, as well as style manuals and collateral applications. Studio. 3 units. Prerequisite: GDES 216 Typography 2.

GDES 288 Graphic Design 2
This is an intermediate course in the study and practice of graphic design systems relative to social, cultural and historic issues. Students will learn the value of research as it applies to the development of design solutions. Emphasis is on conceptual thinking, visual organization/composition, information hierarchy, symbolic representation and the construction of meaningful images. Studio. 3 units. Prerequisites: FOUN 103 Design and Color Elements 2; GDES 106 Graphic Design 1; GDES 107 Digital Practice and GDES 116 Typography 1. Required co-requisite: GDES 289 Progress Portfolio.

GDES 310 Information Design
This is n intermediate studio course in graphic design exploring the fundamental theories and methodologies of visually communicating information. GDES 310 examines the development of creative design solutions involving research, information analysis and problem solving in consideration of context, concept, narrative, audience and process. Studio. 3 units. Prerequisites: GDES 240 Photography 1; GDES 260 History of Graphic Design 1; GDES 288 Graphic Design 2 and GDES 289 Progress Portfolio.

GDES 315 Package Design
This is an intermediate studio course examining materials and processes as they relate to the development of forms and graphics for packaging. Through an understanding of the qualities inherent in various packaging materials, students produce a variety of packaging solutions dealing with shape, form and volume. Students will examine marketing issues such as client needs, product placement and package function. Studio. 3 units. Prerequisite: GDES 288 Graphic Design 2.

GDES 317 Typography 3
This is an intermediate studio course that explores experimental typographic applications. Students will develop and design concepts which challenge traditional typographic aesthetics and investigate experimental approaches to create unique designs using type as an expressive element. Studio. 3 units. Prerequisite: GDES 288 Graphic Design 2.

GDES 356 Web Design 2
This is an advanced studio course exploring internet communications for business and industry, advertising and corporate communications. Emphasis is placed on the design of navigational structures and systems, audience, organization and information access for web applications. Studio. 3 units. Prerequisites: GDES 216 Typography 2 and GDES 256 Web Design 1.

GDES 388 Graphic Design 3
This is an advanced studio in the study and application of graphic systems. Students will develop a comprehensive design system for a sponsoring client exploring issues of research, analysis, audience, identity and presentation. Internal, promotional and collateral material are also examined. Students will present and receive feedback from the sponsoring client in a professional format. Studio. 3 units. Prerequisite: GDES 288 Graphic Design 2.

GDES 485 Portfolio Presentation
This is an advanced studio in the preparation and presentation of the Graphic Design portfolio in both print and digital mediums. Emphasis is placed on portfolio review and critique, book development and augmentation. Presentation and interviewing techniques including resume preparation, job search issues, networking, references and salary negotiation are covered. Studio. 3 units. Prerequisite: GDES 310 Information Design.

GDES 492 Degree Project
This is an advanced capstone studio involving application of theoretical research to a self-initiated graphic design project. Through a rigorous level of work, which is clearly resolved and demonstrates a high degree of critical thinking, skill and craft, students will create visual communication projects that communicate a unique perspective on their chosen subject matter and fully address the demands of the target audience. Studio. 3 units. Prerequisites: GDES 240 Photography 1; GDES 317 Typography 3 and GDES 491 Degree Project Research.

GDES 107 Digital Practice
This is an introductory course in the fundamentals of digital technology, including their roles in the creation, reproduction, and distribution of visual messages. Students will study major drawing and imaging software used in the graphic design industry. Students will also become familiar with digital tools and terminology as they apply to creative visual communication. Studio. 3 units. Prerequisites: None.

GDES 207 Design Production
This an intermediate course in the study and practice of software applications used for design and production of multi-page documents. Emphasis is on commercial printing processes including both digital pre-press and post-press applications. File preparation, color separation, ink and paper specifications as well as bindery considerations are covered. Studio. 3 units. Prerequisite: GDES 107 Digital Practice. May be taken concurrently with GDES 107 Digital Practice for transfer students.

GDES 414 Environmental Graphics
This is an advanced studio course examining the design of visual communications systems in the spatial environment. Both interior and exterior spaces are investigated including design of signage, wayfinding systems, displays and exhibits. Exploration of fabrication methods and materials. Studio. 3 units. Prerequisites: GDES 288, Graphic Design 2; GDES 289, Progress Portfolio.

GDES 430 Advertising Design
This course provides an introduction to the design of advertising for mass communication. Emphasis is placed on marketing and concept development through analyzing specific client needs to create effective and targeted advertising for both print and electronic media. Studio. 3 units. Prerequisites: GDES 288, Graphic Design 2; GDES 289, Progress Portfolio.

GDES 432 Publication Design
This course is an advanced design studio exploring the design, layout and production of electronic and print publications including newsletters, magazines and annual reports. The class will emphasize page layout and grid systems, typographic structures and the use of art and photography in publications in both print and digital mediums. Studio. 3 units. Prerequisites: GDES 288 Graphic Design 2 and GDES 289 Progress Portfolio.

GDES 446 Entertainment Design
This is an advanced design studio exploring graphic applications in the entertainment business. Emphasis is placed on the design of movie posters, DVD and promotional packaging used in the film industry. Study of marketing techniques. Studio. 3 units. Prerequisites:
GDES 240 Photography 1; GDES 288 Graphic Design 2 and GDES 289 Progress Portfolio.

GDES 447 Motion Graphics
This is an intermediate studio exploring motion design with an emphasis on narrative structure in relation to elements of space, time and transition in sequential organization. Students explore the study of rhythm and pacing and their influence on content and visual messages. Stress is placed on systems, structure and synthesis of text and image for time-based media. Studio. 3 units. Prerequisites: GDES 288 Graphic Design 2 and GDES 289 Progress Portfolio.

GDES 100 Introduction to Graphic Design
This is an introductory course in the fundamentals of graphic design and exploration of opportunities in the field. Emphasis is on the design development process including research, concept, and execution of visual communication topics. Students will become familiar with digital tools and terminology, basic typographic conventions, and concept sketching. Studio. 3 units. Prerequisites: None.

GDES 250 Screen Printing 1
This course is an intermediate studio featuring the exploration and study of the screen printing process including inks, imaging techniques and stencil systems. Students will investigate surfaces and substrates including fabric, paper, and plastics, and produce screen prints. Students will also examine the history of screen printing and contemporary industry overview. Individual study and investigation of special interests will be encouraged. Studio. 3 units. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing.

GDES 299, 399, 499 Independent Study
This is an individual studio investigation in a field of special interest chosen by the student. Course description, objectives, content and schedule must be submitted to the department chair for approval. Regular, periodic meetings with sponsoring faculty are required. Studio. 1-4 units. Prerequisite: No more than ten units of credit may be given for independent study courses toward the BFA degree.

GDES 340 Photography 2: Photographic Practice
This course is a continuation of photographic study exploring technique, in-studio and other lighting options and presentation/professional practices. Emphasis is placed on the continuation of the contemporary photographic series, portfolio development, post-visualization and materials with a basic introduction to photographic theory. Studio. 3 units. Prerequisite: GDES 240, Photography 1.

GDES 342 Photographic Studio & Alternative Practice
This is a course in both intermediate challenges in studio photography for commercial and creative application, and an overview of alternative processes as related to further understanding of creative image-making possibilities. Studio emphasis is placed on art direction for products and subjects. Basic studio lighting techniques for digital camera operation. Studio. 3 units. Prerequisite: GDES 240 Photography 1.

GDES 360 Screen Printing 2
This is an advanced studio featuring the exploration and study of the screen printing process as applied to the student’s major discipline focusing on inks, imaging techniques and stencil systems. Students will develop designs, investigate surfaces and substrates to communicate or create a unique design assemblage. Individual research and investigation of special interests will be required. Students will be required to produce a major work as it applies to their individual major study. Focus will be on the research and originality of the submission. Studio. 3 units. Prerequisite: GDES 250 Screen Printing 1.

GDES 470 Topics in Graphic Design
Topics will include advanced design, production and communication problems of a specialized nature. Studio. 1 – 4 units.

GDES 289 Progress Portfolio
Required as a co-requisite to GDES 288 Graphic Design 2, students will develop a portfolio including work from each major design studio completed. They will complete a reflective self-assessment evaluating their strengths and weaknesses, and performance in lower division studios. Students will be assessed for their progress in the program and readiness for upper division studios. Studio. 0 units. Prerequisites: FOUN 103 Design and Color Elements 2; GDES 106 Graphic Design 1; GDES 107 Digital Practice and GDES 116 Typography 1. Co-requisite: GDES 288 Graphic Design 2.

GDES 390 Career Experience or Internship
Students will participate in off-campus internships in design, advertising and marketing. No more than ten units of credit may be given for internship courses toward the BFA degree. The student bears the responsibility for submitting the contract that identifies the sponsor of the participating organization. All internships must be approved by the department chair. A minimum of 40 hours of participation is required for each unit of credit. These units can be applied to the Career Experience requirement. Prerequisite: GDES 310 Communication Design.

Requirements

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Graphic Design Portfolio Requirements

Hardware:  Students are required to have a MacBook Pro computer by their sophomore year. Specifications and educational discounts are available through the Woodbury online Apple store.

Software: Microsoft Office; Adobe Creative Suite; iWorks

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Woodbury Apple Store

University accredited by:

NASAD: National Association of Schools of Art & Design
WSCUC: Senior College and University Commission (formerly WASC)