David Shields
Associate professor and chair

arts.vcu.edu/graphicdesign

Graphic design is a creative and analytical process that integrates art and technology to communicate ideas and information. The goal of the Department of Graphic Design at VCU is to educate students to become innovators and leaders in three related areas of professional practice: print design, sequential design and interaction design.

Mission statement

The Department of Graphic Design encourages the exploration of diverse problem-solving methodologies, innovative investigations and creative research in all forms of communication. It is dedicated to excellence in teaching, scholarship, academic and creative research and professional practice. The Department of Graphic Design provides both an undergraduate and graduate education stressing creative and intellectual thinking; awareness of individual, social, cultural and communicative issues; the integration of new technology; and a concern for ethical implications and the natural environment. The program actively contributes to the university, local, state, national and international communities through its scholarly and creative activities, educational programs and service efforts.

GDES 202. Design Technology. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 2 lecture and 3 studio hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: successful completion of the Art Foundation Program. A design foundation workshop that emphasizes skills development and application of design technology: time and project management, visual thinking, image capturing and editing.

GDES 205. Design Methods and Processes. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 2 lecture and 3 studio hours. 3 credits. An in-depth investigation of the theoretical aspects of the design process within the context of designing effective visual communications.

GDES 211. Typography I. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 2 lecture and 3 studio hours. 3 credits. An introduction to communication problem-solving through the visual medium of language. The fundamentals of typography and typographic design are explored in experimental and practical projects.

GDES 212. Design Form and Communication. 3,6 Hours.

Semester course; 2 lecture and 3 studio hours or 4 lecture and 6 studio hours. 3 credits for Richmond; 6 credits for VCUQ. The relationship of form and communication in graphic design is explored through theoretical and applied projects. The impact of typography and imagery and their syntactic relations upon audience and content is stressed.

GDES 213. Typography II. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 2 lecture and 3 studio hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: GDES 211. An intermediate exploration of typography as an expressive and functional communication vehicle. Emphasis is placed on defining effective design criteria to meet the reader's needs, the communicator's intent and the designer's formal sensibilities.

GDES 214. Imaging I. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 2 lecture and 3 studio hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: successful completion of the Art Foundation Program. Cannot be taken for credit with COAR 331. A studio course focusing on the use of digital imaging techniques for communication purposes. The processes and techniques for making and working with digital images are explored.

GDES 216. Imaging II. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 2 lecture and 3 studio hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: GDES 214. A studio course focusing on the creation of visual images for communication purposes. The processes and media for making visual images and the limits of visual literacy are explored.

GDES 252. History of Visual Communication. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. An investigation of contemporary visual communication concepts, media and images, and their role in contemporary society.

GDES 253. Theory and Philosophy of Visual Communication. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. An overview of theoretical and philosophical issues influencing the practice of visual communication design.

GDES 300. Creative Strategies. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 2 lecture and 3 studio hours. 3 credits. A course in which alternative creative communication problem-solving strategies are investigated.

GDES 301. Beginning Letterpress. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 2 lecture and 3 studio hours. 3 credits. An introductory/intermediate printmaking studio course designed for students interested in developing their visual vocabulary in letterpress and relief printing. Students will undertake critical analysis of the letterpress medium and utilize techniques to develop and produce finished editions of each assigned task.

GDES 302. Book Arts. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 2 lecture and 3 studio hours. 3 credits. An introduction to the tools, materials and craft of contemporary bookmaking. Investigation of bookbinding, handcraft and related techniques.

GDES 308. Web Design. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 2 lecture and 3 studio hours. 3 credits. Prerequiste: permission of instructor. A course developing the design of websites. Emphasis is placed on the visual design, navigation, development, communication and authoring of websites.

GDES 330. The Business of Design. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. This course introduces basic global economics and general design business concepts such as the free enterprise system, legal forms of business and financial considerations. It also surveys business and management practices such as planning, decision-making, communication, global ethics, marketing, human resources, finance and entrepreneurial skills needed to open a design business. Crosslisted as: IDES 330/FASH 330.

GDES 343. Systems in Design. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 2 lecture and 3 studio hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: successful completion of the sophomore GDES courses. The study of systematic and methodological approaches to communication design through the solving of complex problems in visual communication. Emphasis is placed on objective process and research in approaches to various professional situations.

GDES 345. Print I. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 2 lecture and 3 studio hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: UNIV 200 or HONR 200 and successful completion of the sophomore GDES courses. An introduction to the design process and applied realizations of print-based materials and outcomes. Addresses the form and communication of the printed page from the tradition of print to the organizational principles outside that tradition. Objectives accomplished through lectures, demonstrations and problem-solving.

GDES 346. Visual Narrative I. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 2 lecture and 3 studio hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: successful completion of the sophomore GDES courses. Studio course that introduces the conceptual and technical issues involved in the design and production of sequential documents and time-based compositions. Addresses the possibilities and limitations of the integration of word, image, video and sound as they relate to problem-solving in visual communication.

GDES 347. Interaction I. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 2 lecture and 3 studio hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: successful completion of the sophomore GDES courses. An introduction to the conceptual and technical issues involved in the design and production of interactive documents and environments. Addresses the possibilities and limitations of computer-generated images, sound and digital video as they relate to problem-solving in visual communication.

GDES 356. Studio Management. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. A study of business and management factors that relate to creative design. Topics include marketing, structure and organization; financial factors; ethical and legal aspects; and management of design, illustration and photography studios.

GDES 365. Print II. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 2 lecture and 3 studio hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: GDES 345. An advanced studio course devoted to the study of systematic and methodological approaches to the design process and applied realization of print-based materials and outcomes. Emphasizes rigorous objective and experimental research methods in approaches to various professional situations. Objectives accomplished through lectures, demonstrations and team-based approaches to problem-solving.

GDES 366. Visual Narrative II. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 2 lecture and 3 studio hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: GDES 346. A studio course devoted to the design and production of advanced projects in sequential design, with focus on research, problem definition and team-based approaches to problem-solving.

GDES 367. Interaction II. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 2 lecture and 3 studio hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: GDES 347. A studio course devoted to the design and production of advanced projects in interaction design and experience design with focus on research, problem definition and team-based approaches to problem-solving.

GDES 370. Design History: 20th and 21st Centuries. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: ARTF 105-106. Study of the major theories and styles on communication arts, fashion and interior environments of the 20th and 21st centuries. Contemporary analysis of cultural conditions and the manner in which designers respond to those conditions. Crosslisted as: FASH 370/IDES 370.

GDES 391. Lecture Topics in Design. 1-3 Hours.

Semester course; variable hours. 1-3 credits per semester. May be repeated for a maximum of 9 credits. Topical lectures in design issues and visual communications.

GDES 392. Research/Individual Study. 2-4 Hours.

Semester course; 1-2 lecture and 3-6 studio hours. 2-4 credits. May be repeated for a total of 6 credits. Enrollment requires permission of instructor, approval of faculty adviser and chair. The structuring, research, execution and presentation of an independent project in visual communications under the direction of a faculty adviser. The student will be encouraged to become a self-generating problem seeker and solver with the ability to carry out self-stated goals.

GDES 401. Advanced Letterpress. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 2 lecture and 3 studio hours. 3 credits. May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credits. Prerequisite: GDES 301. An advanced print studio course designed for students interested in exploring their visual vocabulary in digital and letterpress relief printing. Students will undertake critical analysis of the combined media of digital and letterpress and utilize techniques inherent within each technology to develop and produce finished editions.

GDES 403. Design Activism. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 2 lecture and 3 studio hours. 3 credits. An overview of the ethical issues faced by practitioners in the field of design and proactive roles available outside of the traditional client/designer relationship. The course presents critiques of the various roles that designers play in the areas of marketing, advertising, product development, and as entrepreneurs and content generators. The course includes a component in which problem identification, team work and real-world engagement are required.

GDES 404. Typeface Design. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 2 lecture and 3 studio hours. 3 credits. Glyph construction is explored through historical and methodological analysis as well as the creation of typographic systems. Formal mechanics of typefaces are emphasized in discussion of their function as vehicles for communication. Both the functional and expressive nature of typefaces are examined through hands-on exercises.

GDES 408. Advanced Web Design. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 2 lecture and 3 studio hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: GDES 308. Investigation into the design and development of dynamic websites. Introduces database integration, webhost management and advanced coding techniques. Emphasis is placed on the semantic design and development of content-rich websites and blogs.

GDES 412. Typography III. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 2 lecture and 3 studio hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: successful completion of the sophomore GDES courses. Advanced problems in typographic design with emphasis upon the development of a personal creative approach to form and communication.

GDES 413. Package Design. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 2 lecture and 3 studio hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: GDES 213 and 367. Theoretical and studio investigation of three-dimensional structural principals as they relate to the area of packaging, exhibition and environmental design.

GDES 414. Exhibition and Environmental Graphic Design. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 2 lecture and 3 studio hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: GDES 213 and 366. Study of the presentation of information in large-scale, three-dimensional formats. Exploration of exhibition and environmental design, including developing imagery and typography, understanding the use of "wayfinding" (identification, interpretation and orientation) and human factors, communicating of programmed content.

GDES 417. Interdisciplinary Team Design. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 2 lecture and 3 studio hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: GDES 213 and 366. Advanced projects in visual communication in which student design teams solve complex problems requiring collaboration.

GDES 418. Design Center. 3-9 Hours.

Semester course; 2-6 lecture and 3-9 studio hours. 3-9 credits. May be repeated for a total of 12 credits. Enrollment requires portfolio review by faculty. A professional studio to give students practicum experience working with faculty on self-initiated and client-initiated, real-world design projects.

GDES 445. Problem Seeking. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. A seminar exploring the nature, scope and implications of defining design objectives in terms of limitations, requirements and potentials of a product's implementation, performance and life cycle.

GDES 470. Senior Seminar. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. An examination of selected theoretical, historical, aesthetic and social areas of concern to the graphic designer. Scholarly research, critical analysis and discussion are expected.

GDES 472. Senior Studio. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 2 lecture and 3 studio hours. 3 credits. A capstone course oriented toward the creation of a professional portfolio, self-promotional materials and business system. The course culminates in the annual Senior Show.

GDES 491. Studio Topics in Design. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 2 lecture and 3 studio hours. 3 credits. May be repeated for a total of 12 credits. Topical studio focusing on research and experimentation in specialized visual communication media.

GDES 492. Design Internship. 1-3 Hours.

Semester course; 1-3 credits. May be repeated for a maximum of 3 credits. Prerequisites: senior standing, 3.0 GPA or permission of the chair. Supervised pragmatic work experiences. Training is provided under the direction and supervision of qualified professional practitioners.