GD2 Syllabus

In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But in practice, there is.

Yogi Berra

This course investigates design via numerous methodologies—including visual research, peer-to-peer collaboration, creative problem-solving, and “design thinking” among others. It concerns itself with three things: looking, thinking and making. Through a balance of critique, lecture, discussion and hands-on assignments we will train your eye, your intellect and your hand to be agents toward these ends. We will build on your present visual communication and literacy skills — expanding and honing them to support your individual relationship to the process of designing. You will learn to define design as an active process rather than a passive outcome. You will come to understand your role in that process and will learn to apply, with greater efficacy and originality, your abilities as a designer. This course requires rigourous investigation and copious generation of original content for all assignments. You will be expected to research, write, conceptualize and design as an integral part of all assignments.

Major Assignments
This course is comprised of three major assignments. There will be no advance handouts describing assignments. For each, I will describe the objectives and the parameters. Just as it will be professionally, it is your responsibility to take adequate notes and ask appropriate questions until you have a full understanding of the project. The ability to adequately define problems is an essential design skill and the first stage in a successful design process. At the conclusion of each project a complete written project description will be made available for your records and future reference.

In addition to any requirements described, you are required to turn in the following with each major assignment:

  1. A detailed log of all time spent on the project, as well as costs for production, materials, etc.
  2. A manifest of all typefaces used including the typeface name, designer, foundry and country of origin.
  3. A process book of all sketches, research, relevant notes, inspiration, etc.
  4. A CD, DVD or thumb drive with a PDF or high-res image(s) of the final assignment.


The schedule of major assignments is as follows:

  1. Identity 3 weeks / 200 points
  2. Narrative 4 weeks / 200 points
  3. Coalition 4 weeks / 300 points

Additional Assignments
In addition to the major assignments above, several small projects and exercises will also be assigned. These include impromptu in-class exercises, readings, writing assignments, field trips, etc. I assign these frequently and without warning, so be prepared. These smaller assignments may account for up to 30% of your total grade. Performing well on them is essential to your success in this course.

Learning Objectives
The primary learning objectives for Graphic Design 2, include:

  • Communicating identity through succinct graphic forms (logos)
  • Extending a graphic identity across several media (stationery, etc.)
  • Presenting narrative in time-based media (editing and pacing film)
  • Understanding how to design a multi-page experience (structure and pacing of a brochure)

Secondary learning objectives include:

  • Gaining exposure to contemporary working designers, their philosophies and working methodologies
  • Exploring a range of design methodologies, and understanding how each informs the final solution
  • Strengthening your abilities in the four traditional areas of design process: research, analysis, conceptualization and formal design.
  • Understanding how to create effective, integrated relationships between type and image

Class Time
This is a three hour class. We will typically take one scheduled 10-minute break halfway through the class period. You are expected to arrive on time and prepared to work for the entire class period. Although in-class work sessions are an integral component of this course, outside work on assignments will be necessary to meet project deadlines. I expect significant progress between classes. You are responsible for coming to class with the completed assignment and all necessary tools and materials for continuing work on the assignment. Projects are due at the beginning of each class, which means that at 8:00 am your work must be displayed and ready for critique. This may require that you arrive at class in advance so that you are prepared promptly at 8:00 am. If you are more than 10 minutes late for class you will be counted as tardy and it is possible that we may not critique your work. Three tardy arrivals in any configuration equals an absence. If you are more than 20 minutes late for class you will be counted as absent. Three unexcused absences will result in a final grade of F. In-class exercises may not be made up. Thus, if you are absent on a day when we have an in-class project you will receive no credit for that assignment.

Projects are graded on an A–F scale, based on the following criteria:

Process (50%)
Concept and development 20%
Experimentation and risk 20%
Engagement 10%

Outcome (50%)
Craftsmanship and technical skills 20%
Success of final solution 30%

For each major project you will be given a written grade sheet evaluating you performance in each of the categories above. These will be tallied to calculate your final grade. Letter grades are assigned according to the following scale:

A+ (98% and higher): Exceptional work, equal to that of a professional designer.

A (92% and higher): Excellent and inspired work. Exemplary attitude.

A- (90%–91%): Excellent work and attitude.

B+ (88%–89%): Exceeded the requirements of the assignment. Very good work.

B (82%–87%): Met or exceeded the requirements of the assignment. Good work.

B- B- (80%–81%): Met the requirements of the assignment. Better than average work.

C+ (78%–79%): Met the requirements of the assignment. Average work.

C (72%–77%): Satisfactorily met the minimum requirements of the assignment. Acceptable work.

C- (70%–71%): Met the minimum requirements of the assignment. Below average work.

D+ (68%–69%): Failed to meet assignment requirements. Below average. Poor work and/or effort.

D (62%–67%): Failed to meet requirements of the assignment. Poor work and/or effort.

D- (60%–69%): Failed to meet all requirements of the assignment. Poor work and/or effort.

F (59% and lower): Unacceptable.

Important Notes on Grading

If you fail to meet any deadline, your final grade for that assignment will be lowered by one grade level. Note that a final grade of C- or lower requires you to repeat the course. CCA’s policies on academic integrity and reasonable expression can be found online. Please familiarize yourself with both.

You are responsible for bringing all necessary equipment and materials to class. I will give you a list of required and recommended materials. You should bring a good notebook and pen or pencil to every class, as well as a pad of tracing paper (8.5″ x 11″), Post-it note stickers, pins or tape for posting work, and an assortment of black markers. You will need access to a computer, printer, and Pantone® color selector. You will also need to budget for high quality output, rubdowns, books, and other materials. During the course of each assignment you must also bring your working sketches and previous iterations to each class. We will reference these often.

Process Books
As noted, you must keep an 11″ x 17″ bound process book for each major assignment. Include all research, preliminary and developmental sketches, inspiration, notes, etc. A designed process book is due with the final presentation of each project, unless otherwise noted. Process books will be considered when grading.

Design Events
You must attend at least one design-related event during the semester and write a one page paper summarizing the event, the speaker’s views and ideas, and what you learned as a result. You will not be reminded of this assignment. Papers are due on or before April 4.

Reading assignments (with discussion to follow) will be assigned periodically. PDFs or online links to required readings will be provided here.

Individual Assistance
There should be ample opportunity during class time to approach me for individual assistance with assignments. If you have questions regarding an assignment you should first contact one of your fellow classmates. If you have a question that only I can answer, or if you require additional assistance with a project you may contact me by phone or by email. Email is my preferred method of contact, but realize you may not receive an immediate response. For more urgent matters you may call my office during normal working hours, in truly urgent cases you may reach me on my mobile. Please, no calls after 7pm. I will provide my contact information in class (take that, spam-bots!)

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