Outside Southwestern Michigan College’s Mac Lab on the second floor of the Dale A. Lyons Building, it’s easy to miss the chance to “stop and smell the roses,” unless you imagine the aromas from a burger and beer from Paddy’s Irish Pub Beef and Beer Fundraiser. Or, pause to reflect on the travel possibilities, from Michigan’s Isle Royale National Park to Taipei or even a whimsical “Fairy Tale’s Holy Land, Tenrou Island, Magnolia.”
Graphic design students at SMC created nine-block infographics as part of a project for Graphic Design II, led by Assistant Professor Sam Walker. Three of SMC’s seven graphic design classes are represented.
There’s a lot to digest in the colorful display case, especially if you read research into illustrating the anatomy of a Big Mac, British fashion in the 19th century, the history of Rich Froning Jr.’s Crossfit games, dragons around the world and the meaning of Disney. Princess names.
There is fine print in the form of a disclaimer identifying this as student work for academic purposes so as not to infringe copyright.
Walker, an SMC alumnus, studied with Bill Rothwell and holds a master’s degree from Saginaw Valley State University. “The first year is an introduction to visual arts and design. Combining text with images is a big step forward. Posters can illustrate a quote, destination or made-up event with information about when it happens and how to contact them.
“There are all kinds of infographics out there,” Walker said. “I give students options – hands-on assembly, statistical information, based on geography with maps and timelines, like Big Mac prices at different times.” The three-tier sandwich is currently the most expensive in Switzerland, at $6.82.
“I created this project for sophomores last year while serving on graphic design advisory boards for area high schools,” said Walker, who returned to SMC in 2019 after teaching in Texas and Louisville, Ky. “Companies were mentioning that they, ‘I’d like to see data visualization and how students relate information to graphs in their portfolios.’
“There are 35 to 40 students taking graphic design courses,” Walker said, “but Art 100 is a pick for other majors. Twenty to 25 are majors. In the last semester of their sophomore year , they make portfolios for their websites, including their hand sketches.
“The demand remains constant. There are about 250,000 jobs across the country, which is expected to grow by about 3% over the next 10 years, which doesn’t sound great, but “graphic designer” is an entry-level job. range that can get you started in art direction, advertising management or animation. It’s like an umbrella over all of digital design, which is expected to grow by 13%. If you lump them all together, it’s more like 500,000 posts.
“In typography class,” Walker said, “students design a font. They make each shape of each letter by hand. The final part of the assignment is to create this type specimen sheet” showing the range of a particular typeface used on William Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 87”.
“It’s one of his shortest (sonnets),” Walker said, “but it involves enough letters and punctuation to provide a good example of what their text looks like applied to everyday use.”
Graphic designers create graphics and design layouts for print, animation, and digital uses. They work for advertising agencies, companies or as freelancers. Since graphic design is necessary in most industries, designers can usually find employment in any area of interest, from healthcare or higher education to manufacturing and media.
Graphic design goes beyond art. Although it requires an understanding of basics such as color theory, perspective, and hierarchy, it is also closely tied to the ever-changing world of communication, technology, and design applications.
SMC offers two degrees in Graphic Design, an Associate of Arts for those pursuing a bachelor’s degree and an Associate of Applied Science to immediately enter the workforce after developing web design skills and creating your own website, a management course small business to equip future freelancers and a resume-refresher course.