Design

What is Design?

Design is the visual communication of ideas. Western's Design program emphasizes the process of problem solving and encourages students to make connections between culture and design, and their role as visual communicators. Students learn to combine personal expression and critical thinking as they create solutions that connect industry to an audience and themselves to the world. 

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BFA or BA?

Western offers both Bachelor of Arts (BA) and a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degrees in Design. The BFA is the professional degree option for students admitted to the Design Program. The BFA degree option is a highly competitive degree limited to a maximum of 18 students per year. Courses in the senior year focus on the integration of graphic production and digital media design in the solution of visual communication problems. 

Design at Western

Design is the visual communication of ideas. Western's Design program emphasizes the process of problem solving and encourages students to make connections between culture and design, and their role as visual communicators. Students learn to combine personal expression and critical thinking as they create solutions that connect industry to an audience and themselves to the world. 

Western's program is unique in its size and depth of curriculum. Students have significant opportunities to work with their faculty outside of class. Western’s Design faculty members are active in the profession, but place teaching first and foremost in their activities. Because industry expects designers to be fluid in both traditional print based graphic design and interaction design (web/app), the Design program does not offer areas of specialization within its curriculum. 

Explore courses

DSGN 140 - Introduction to Visual Communication

DSGN 310 - Principles of Interaction Design

DSGN 330 -Typography

DSGN 347 -Illustration Methods

DSGN 359 - Book Arts Production

DSGN 360 - Digital Media Design I

DSGN 367 - Commercial Illustration Concepts 

Illustration Certificate

This Illustration Certificate is the only one of its kind in the Northwest. The combination of courses is intended to give students the knowledge and skill set to augment their major and/or consider a career as a freelance illustrator.

Read more about the Illustration certificate

 

Design Production Lab 

Western's design production lab provides students access to equipment found in the industry and establishes a learning environment that allows for hands-on education. Through the lab, students have access to: hand and power guillotine paper cutters, foil-stamping, various mechanical and perfect binding units, offset and photopolymer plate making units, medium and large format inkjet printers, two Vandercook proofing presses (for letterpress printing) as well as a Heidelberg GTO offset press.

Internships

Design students earn internship credit working with design firms, and receive support and professional connections as they pursue internships that match their interests. Students also have the opportunity to earn credit while studying abroad over a summer.

Completing an internship is a requirement for Design BFA students. Faculty members are responsible for finding firms that meet department expectations for this experience, then contracts are negotiated so all parties are aware of what is expected of each other. This is a paid internship that happens during the summer. Since the internship is required during summer quarter, students earn enough money to pay for their summer tuition (10 credits) and have something left over. The department strives to find local quality design sponsors for student convenience. 

Recent BFA Student Internship Firms: 

  • Curator 
  • Ratio 
  • LiveAreaLabs
  • Ten Gun Design 
  • Push Design 
  • Disney 
  • Smashing Ideas  
  • Superfeet
  • Toolhouse  
  • Highlight (San Francisco) 

Work as a designer while in school

Through coursework and a variety of on- and off-campus opportunities, Western Design students build on their skills while adding to their portfolios. Campus-wide opportunities are available through the VU Publicity Center, Klipsun Magazine, The Planet Magazine, Jeopardy Magazine, Labyrinth Literary and Fine Arts Magazine, and more. The department also receives a large number of requests from off-campus partners for design work.

Field Trips

The Design BFA seniors travel to San Francisco for the annual Design field trip. Recently, the students visited the following firms: Chronicle Books, Elixir, Hatch, Highlight, Hybrid, Manual, McSweenys, Neo, Public, Salesforce, and Volume.

I have had the best professors who have taught me, guided me and prepared me to enter the professional world of design. The confidence and skills I have learned at Western have allowed me to feel that I can make a significant impact in the world of design.

Anelese Webster
Design Major

What can you do with Design?

100% of Design, BA graduates found field related employment within six months of graduation, of those who responded to Western's 2015-2016 Employment Survey

90% of Design, BFA graduates found field related employment within six months of graduation, of those who responded to Western's 2015-2016 Employment Survey

Career opportunities are found in all segments of industry, both in the private and public sector. Western Design graduates go on to work in advertising agencies, design firms, in-house departments, paper companies, printing firms, and serve as private consultants in corporate identity, environmental graphic design, packaging, publication, and web design. Many graduates work as Designers, Art Educators, Production Managers, Web Designers, and Digital Image Makers.

Some employers of recent Western graduates include:

  • Amazon (Seattle, WA): Interactive Designer 
  • Creativebug (San Francisco, CA): Digital Designer 
  • Facebook (San Francisco, CA): Product Designer
  • Nordstrom (Seattle, WA): Web Designer 
  • TranTech Engineering (Bellingham, WA): Designer, Marketer, AudoCAD
  • Cinco (Portland, OR): Brand Designer 
  • Starbucks Technology (Seattle, WA): Designer
  • Artefact (Seattle, WA): Designer
  • Teague (Seattle, WA): Visual Designer
  • Fantagraphics Books (Seattle, WA): Junior Designer 
  • Lineage Media and Solutions (Seattle, WA): Graphic Designer
  • Ticketfly (San Francisco, CA): Visual Design Associate
  • WECU: Graphic Designer

Design careers

  • Graphic Designer
  • Web Designer
  • Project Manager
  • Art Director
  • Digital Image Maker 
  • Creative Director
  • Interactive Designer
  • UX/UI

Related Majors

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