AIGA Eye on Design Examines CalArts’ Graphic Design Program

AIGA’s ‘Eye on Design’ delves into CalArts Graphic Design program. | Image: Screenshot

Eye on Design, AIGA’s online publication, sets its sights on CalArts’ Graphic Design with a recent story that relishes in the unkempt history of the Institute and the program. “The West Coast Design Program with a Messy Vitality,” written by Graphic Design alumna (and 24700 contributor) Margaret Andersen (Art MFA 16), describes CalArts as the art school founded with dual purposes. In the piece, Anther Kiley, co-director of the Graphic Design program, sums up the occasional clash of the bifocal nature: “CalArts was born out of productively conflicting impulses (commercial vs. experimental), a spirit of radicalism runs in our DNA.”

The piece describes how CalArts sets itself apart from other programs: a full-immersion curriculum, studio culture and then the twice-weekly critique of work. With an insider’s knowledge of CalArts, Anderson also captures the life of a graphic design student:

Those twice-weekly critiques, coupled with electives and extracurricular projects or initiatives, mean the design students rarely leave their studios. Since they are given 24-hour access to all facilities, each designer’s cubicle becomes a home away from home. Wacom tablets share desk space with rice cookers and coffee makers; books on design theory and typography compete for shelf space with cans of LaCroix and personal bric-a-brac.

A variety of well-behaved studio dogs, and even a cat named Phoebe, wait patiently beneath several desks while their owners tile posters or trim spreads late into the night. If students are ever stuck on a project, they’re just a cubicle away from their classmates for an informal critique, or they can visit Ed Fella who keeps open office hours in one of the MFA studios. Though he’s retired from teaching, Fella remains a creative resource and mentor to the students, and is always up for a friendly chat.

To read the full story, please visit AIGA’s Eye on Design. Learn more about the current Graphic Design program on the CalArts website, or its history through the Design School Archive.

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