Maryland Institute College of Art
I’ve recently joined the undergraduate faculty at MICA’s graphic design department as an adjunct professor, where I teach a variety of courses at various levels.
Curriculum updates to come.
current classesGD 432.01 Information Visualization
GD 320.02 Graphic Design 4
GDD4501-A [Graphic Design Portfolio]
School of Visual Arts, 2008-2012
From 2008 until 2011, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to teach a thesis-based senior graphic design portfolio class with Paul Sahre—a class I had previously attended of his at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. In 2011, Paul took a sabbatical from teaching, and I continued to teach the class under a similar format until 2012.
The year-long course was based off a curriculum Paul had been experimenting with for several years. It was designed to connect students with their individual mantras for pursuing a career in graphic design, mantras which they then use as guiding principles as they conceive and build self-authored projects for an intended audience.
The first semester focused on exploration and discovery, as students were given one to two brief exercises to execute, then instructed to vigorously retrace their steps and analyze their decisions. At this point they uncover underlying (conscious or unconscious) themes within their decision-making process. Those themes or topics are then isolated, defined, and used as parameters with which to complete another series of longer assignments. These assignments, specifically designed to be theoretical and non-practical, allowed the student firstly—to begin to think consciously and intentionally through the lens of their theme, and secondly—to become comfortable working through unconventional formats and finding unique solutions to design problems.
This culminates in the second semester, as students use their own theme/topic as the foundational structure from which to conceive and execute a self-authored project, the centerpiece of their portfolio as they prepared for employment after graduation. Students were instructed to discard preconceived notions of what their outcomes would be—trusting in the process allowed discoveries and unexpected trajectories to happen. Students were also encouraged to, whenever possible, create projects or components of said projects which engaged with the public, rather than simply sitting in a portfolio as an exercise in theory.
A few of the final projects were as follows:
A series of graphic works reinterpreting the ethnography of local signage, communications and wayfinding systems.
An object removal service that destroys objects associated with negative memories.
An Ipad-based publication featuring interviews and collaborative projects that explore what it means today to work with our hands.
An exploration of environmental graphic design and identity design for private living spaces.
A brand and product line of notebooks created from used and discarded materials.
A bi-weekly newspaper publication documenting observances and local voices of a small community in New York’s Catskills mountains.
An ipad-based operating system tailored for people who are afraid of computers.
A public art project that redesigns and streamlines the world’s most popular logos and visual marks using a set of rigorous design principles.
A brand and product line of luxury analog decision-making tools.
A non-cynical, completely sincere street campaign to encourage more happiness in New York City.
A platform and campaign for individuals to exchange memories of past travel experiences (in the form of objects) via postal mail.
A line of therapeutic products for adults using playful animal characters from the zoo.
Justina Zun-Zun Chang
Pei Y Ni