Ellen Lupton is curator of contemporary design at Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York City and director of the Graphic Design MFA program at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore. An author of numerous books and articles on design, she is a public-minded critic, frequent lecturer, and AIGA Gold Medalist. Read More

Graphic Design I Syllabus, Fall 09

Instructor: Ellen Lupton, elupton (at) designwritingresearch.org
Teaching Assistant: Molly Hawthorne
Maryland Institute College of Art




Group Meetings
On most class sessions, we will meet in two groups.
Group A: 9:00-11:30
Group B: 12:30-300
Always arrive to your group session on time. Class will start and finish promptly. By breaking up the class into smaller groups, we can have shorter critiques and more focused work sessions for individual students. If you wish to work in class longer or participate in double critiques, you are welcome to do so.

IMPORTANT: Exceptions to Group Meetings
Tuesday, October 6 / All students meet at 9:30am for New York Times Bootcamp
Tuesday, November 24 / All students meet at 10:00am for Package Design Workshop

Posting Work on Flickr
For the purpose of critiquing work in class and giving and receiving online feedback, you will post works in progress on Flickr as noted each week. Work must be posted by 10:00pm on Monday. You are required to comment on the work of at least two other students each week. The Flickr group will allow us to continue to work during a medical emergency (within reason). Join the MICA_GD_I_2009 flickr group: http://www.flickr.com/groups/mica_gd_1_2009/

Final Work
Final work must be submited digitally. Files must be labeled with your full name (FirstName_LastName). By submitting your files, you agree that your work may be published in a future MICA publication. If reproduced, your work will be credited to you.

Working In Class
Always bring files with you for working in class.

Reproducing Your Work
All work produced in the GD MFA program is documented digitally with complete, high-resolution source files. Your work will be considered for reproduction in a variety of MICA publications, including the book How Designers Think: A Guide for Graphic Designers (published by MICA and Princeton Architectural Press) and in promotional publications for MICA and the program. By participating in this course and submitting your work electronically, you agree to grant us world-wide reproduction rights. You will not be paid a reproduction fee or license. All work created by you will be credited to you. You will retain the full right to use and reproduce the work in any context, and you will retain copyright to your work.




Below is the general syllabus for course. Info posted on Flickr or Google Calendar will supersede the schedule posted below.

Week 1: Deconstruct a Square

Decompose (in-class exercise)
1. Draw 25 small squares on a sheet of 8.5 x 11 paper (5 rows of 5).
2. Divide each square into a 4-square grid.
3. Divide each of those grids into 8 pieces, using vertical, horizontal, and/or diagonal lines.
4. Reconstruct your pencil drawing in Illustrator.

Diagram by Bruno Munari

Recompose (in-class exercise)
Choose one of your square diagrams. Create 16 different abstract badges using your square diagram as a structure. Employing no more than 2 colors, fill in parts of the square to create unique symbols. All the badges in your system must be distinct from each other. Work in Illustrator.

Inspiration: U.S. Military decorations

Post a jpg of your work to Flickr by 2:00pm.

1. Choose one of your square diagrams and break it into 8 pieces.
2. Design a set of 5 icons using your pieces. You may repeat or overlap elements. Don’t change their scale relative to each other. Your icons can represent anything you like: people, animals, food, emoticons, etc. They should make sense together as a series.
2. Post your work to Flickr.


Week 2: Swim Suit Stats

Quick Crit: Square Icons

Swim Suit Stats
Using the text and research provided below, create a consistent, systematic series of images representing the evolution of swimsuit design. The images provided are a point of reference only; you are encouraged to do more research. Do not auto-trace or otherwise copy the reference images; create you own approach to depicting bodies and garments. The goal is to chart the evolution of swimwear and the changing attitudes towards bodies and performance embodied in them. Keep your illustrations simple. Use color, shape, and pattern in a systematic manner to convey structural changes in swimwear. Don’t get wrapped up in details.

> research material

Paper Dolls (in class exercise)
Working with cut paper, represent four different swimwear designs from the timeline.

Create an initial design for your swimsuit icons. Post a jpeg to Flickr. Bring your files so that you can work in class.

Finish the project Deconstruct a Square.
1. Post a jpeg of your final Square Icons to Flickr.
2. Prepare final files for all components of Deconstruct a Square project. The following files are due: high-resolution scan(s) of square diagram sketches from class, 300 dpi; square diagrams in Illustrator; final icon file(s); final badge file. Label files like this: FirstName_LastName_Square1 FirstName_LastName_Square2


Week 3: Swim Suit Stats

Quick Crit: Swim Suit Icons

Layout (in-class exercise):
Create a double-page spread in InDesign. Page size: 8.5×11 (full spread = 11 x17).
Experiment with arranging your icons in the spread.
Make room for the headline and introductory blurb as well as for dates, caption, and source credit.

1. Continue developing your swimsuit icons.
2. Place your finished icons into an InDesign page layout as discussed above. Post jpeg of your page layout to Flickr. Bring a COLOR printout to discuss in class! Printouts will be collected for display in departmental exhibition. Also bring your paper doll experiments for the exhibition.
3. Bring all files (Illustrator and InDesign) for working in class.


Week 4: Swim Suit Stats

Quick Crit: Swim Suit Layouts

One-on-one critique: bring printouts as well as working files to discuss.
Bring COLOR printouts and paper doll exercise for exhibition.

1. Post jpeg of final layout to Flickr.
2. Read assigned article from NY Times.


Week 5: Visual Brain Dump

Brain Dump (exercise in class):
Create 50 quick sketches representing ideas from the article.

One-on-one: discuss final layout of Swim Suit Stats for approval. Bring printout for review!

1. Create a finished rendering of your best Brain Dump image.
2. Post a jpeg of your design plus the specific sketches that led up to it on Flickr.


Week 6: NY Times Boot Camp

All students meet at 9:30am.
Work in class on NYTimes editorial illustration assignment.

Prepare final files for Swim Suit Stats and Visual Brain Dump.
1. For Swim Suit Stats, you need the following: A final packaged InDesign file. All files should be inside a folder labeled FirstName_LastName_Swim. The folder must include your InDesign file, a PDF of your final layout, a links folder, and a fonts folder.
2. For Visual Brain Dump, you need the following: high-resolution scans of all your in-class sketches (at least 50 thumbnails); high-resolution file of your final illustration.
Label files like this:
FirstName_LastName_BrainDump2; etc, as needed.


Week 7: Unbeige

Submit final files for Swim Suit Stats and Visual Brain Dump.

Draw and Quarter (in class exercise):
Look at the blog Unbeige as a class.
Use the following process to brainstorm logo ideas.
Draw a small square in the middle of a sheet of paper. Label the four sides Compare, Contrast, Analyze, and Exemplify. Using these terms/questions as prompts, write and sketch answers and ideas.
1. Compare (what is unbeige similar to?)
2. Contrast (what is unbeige opposed to?)
3. Analyze (what are the parts of unbeige? Break it down.)
4. Exemplify (what are examples of unbeige-ness?)

Lettering workshop with Molly Hawthorne.

1. Choose one idea and develop it according to the guidelines on unbeige web site. Follow the guidelines exactly. . In addition to creating a low-res file for UnBeige, you are required to create a hi-res version for submission to class.
2. Post jpeg of your design to Flickr.


Week 8: Coffee and Donuts

Quick crit: Unbeige logos

New project: Coffee and Donuts
For this long-term project, each student will develop an idea for a new chain of cafes that sells coffee, donuts, or something else entirely. You will develop a market concept, name, logo, and graphic identity for your chain. The project will begin with a research phase and proceed through concept development and visual design.

1. Complete your Unbeige project and submit low-res version to Unbeige site. Prepare hi-res files for submission to class. Label files FirstName_LastName_Unbeige. If you have worked in Illustrator, convert all fonts to outlines.
2. Research for Coffee + Donuts project.

Observe Users
- Spend at least two hours in a coffee and/or donut shop and observe what people are doing there. Take photographs and write down notes. Be discreet. Make sure that some of your photos are “anonymous” (the backs of people’s heads, etc). You can also make sketches. Make at least two trips to your venue at different times of day. Record your research on Flickr. Only publish anonymous photos and original sketches on Flickr.

Collect Artifacts
- Collect bags, boxes, napkins, etc from at least six different establishments. Bring actual stuff to class.


Week 9: Coffee and Donuts: Brand Maps

Organize artifacts on wall.
Discuss research.
Discuss brand maps.

Context Swapping (in class exercise):
Over the past fifteen years, coffee shops have been inserted into many new contexts: book stores, libraries, big box stores. Think in reverse: what are six services, products, or functions from other contexts that could turn up in a coffee shop or cafe? (Dry cleaning service, pedicures, tax preparation?) Have fun thinking of ideas. Make sketches of your best three ideas.

1. Brand map.
Create a map of the existing “brand space” for coffee and donuts, based on class discussion. Don’t put logos on your brand map (because of copyright laws). You can write out the names or make your own little icons that use color or some abstraction/symbol to represent the company. Post jpg of your brand map to flickr. Keep hi-res files for later use.
2. Concepts.
Think about concepts for your own establishment. What will people do there? What will you sell? Who is your audience? How is your concept different from what’s already out there? How is it similar. Come up with at least 2 different concepts that you can state in a single sentence (no visuals yet). Bring your sentences to class.


Week 10: Coffee and Donuts: Concepts

Discuss concepts.

Column A/Column B (in-class exercise):
Choose one of your concepts and identify two features that define it. For example, the defining features of Dunkin Donuts might be “cheap” and “popular.” The defining features of Panera might be “real food” and “healthy.” The defining features of Starbucks might be “hand-crafted coffee” and “wi fi.” Draw two columns on a sheet of paper and list everything you can think of in relation to these values: images, words, related products and services, etc.

1. Name your concept.
2. Develop at least three logotypes for your concept. Work in Illustrator. You may use existing typefaces or draw your own letterforms. If you draw your own, be sure to look at real fonts for inspiration. The logo must include the name of your establishment.
3. Post jpg’s of your logotypes to Flickr. Bring files for working in class.


Week 11: Coffee and Donuts: Visual Design

Quick crit: Logotype concepts

One-on-one: work in class during one-on-one crits.

Continue developing your logotype. Begin applying it to items such as napkins, cups, etc. You may do this with schematic drawings.


Week 12: Coffee and Donuts: Visual Design

All students meet at 10:am: Package design workshop with Molly Hawthorne. Molly will demonstrate techniques for making boxes, bags, and other 3D applications.: work in class during one-on-one crits.

Scheduled one-on-one critiques.

Continue developing your logotype. Begin applying it to items such as napkins, cups, etc. You may do this with schematic drawings.


Week 13: Coffee and Donuts: Brand Book

Discussion: Brand Books. How professional designers present brand identity proposals.

1. Begin assembling all your material into a brand book: concept statement, logo, applications, and brand map. Format: 8.5 x 11 horizontal; approx 8 pages long. Create you layouts in InDesign. Bring printouts to class for discussion.
2. Create at least one comp of a 3D object, such as cup, bag, package, or box. Bring it to class to photograph.


Week 14: Coffee and Donuts: Documentation

Bring prototypes to class to photograph, or photograph them on your own.

One-on-one critiques of Brand Books. Bring printouts!

1. Final brand book: bring final pages to class. You may use our spiral binder in class or use another manner that suits you.
2. Prepare final files for submission. You must submit a packaged InDesign file as well as a PDF. Make sure logotype and any linked Illustrator files have type saved as outlines.


Week 15: Coffee and Donuts: Final Submission

Last day of class.
One-on-one reviews of final Brand Book.




H1N1 Pandemic Information

What to do if I get sick?
· Limit contact with other people as much as possible. DO NOT GO TO CLASS! Seek medical attention at Mount Royal Medial Assoc. (410) 225-8855 but please call ahead
· Students who are sick should self-isolate for at least 24 hours after any fever is gone.
· Make sure to get plenty of rest and drink clear fluids to keep from being dehydrated
· Avoid normal activities including work, school, travel, shopping, social events, and public gatherings

Reporting Procedures
· Contact the Office of Student Affairs at 410-225-2422 who will assist with plans for self-isolation, arranging for meals, and any other necessary support
· Contact any faculty whose class you anticipate missing and inform them of your illness. Work with them to make arrangements for catching up on any missed work. If you have difficulty reaching your faculty or if your illness lingers to the point where you will miss two or more of any one class contact the Office of Student Affairs


ADA Compliance Statement
Any student who feels s/he may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact [insert instructor’s name/title] privately to discuss specific needs. Please contact the Learning Resource Center at 410-225-2416, in Bunting 458, to establish eligibility and coordinate reasonable accommodations. For additional information please refer to: http://www.mica.edu/learningresourcecenter/.


Health and Safety Compliance
The Office of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) works to provide EHS support for all members of the MICA community. The primary goal of the Office is to be proactive in establishing a culture of safety in which each member of the community shares ownership responsibility that allows each person to be involved in maintaining a healthy work and studying environment. EHS uses several methods to achieve this objective.

First, the EHS office looks at the totality of the EHS requirements by combining campus needs with state and federal requirements and clearly communicating the shared policies and procedures. Second, EHS identifies training needs and develops guidelines for the use of equipment, material and procedures. Third, we ensure compliance with policies through evaluations, inspections, and committees.

It is the responsibility of faculty and students to understand health and safety policies relevant to their individual activities and to review MICA’s Emergency Action Plan, as well as to participate in training, drills, etc. It is also each faculty member’s responsibility to coordinate with the EHS Office to ensure that all risks associated with their class activities are identified and to assure that their respective classroom procedures mirror the EHS and Academic Department guidelines. Each of the Academic Departments also publishes EHS procedures and policies such as a dress code, the use of personal protective equipment, fire safety, training, and how to properly dispose of chemical waste. Each of these policies and procedures must be followed by all students and faculty. Most importantly, it is the responsibility of the faculty to review, test, and assess each student’s awareness of basic safety procedures, such as evacuation routes, use of chemicals, fire prevention, and all other guidelines posted by the Environmental Health and Safety Office, (e.g., smoking policy, independent studio policies, pet policy, disposing of hazardous and chemical waste, etc).