Extending Traditional Graphic Design Practices: An Exciting New Programme at Victoria

2 years ago by

Nat Jar, installation juxtaposing nature and technology, for MDDN 314, by Daniel Gardner.

It’s clear that Graphic Design is changing. Victoria University of Wellington is aiming to ride the crest of that change. Their new programme in Communication Design has an approach which sets it apart from other programmes currently on offer in New Zealand. “There’s a basic visual literacy that everyone has now,” says Zach Dodson, who was recently appointed Programme Director, “but our current media landscape has a similar division to written communication skills. Almost everyone can write, but there are only a specialized few that do writing as their primary work: journalists, academics, and storytellers. We’re all savvy readers of visual material. But those in the design field need some of these specialized skills as well, to expand beyond the basic branding and visual communication that most are now fluent in.”

Taranaki Art Crawl cards, for CCDN 332 Design+ by Hannah O’Donovan.

With this approach in mind, Victoria University of Wellington opened its new programme this year in Communication Design.

A specialisation within the Bachelor of Design Innovation (BDI), this programme will prepare students to work as designers in an exciting variety of design-based professions, or strike out on their own with a distinct creative voice. Students within the Communication Design program learn how to communicate visual messages, information and ideas as part of larger design projects. The course allows students to develop their expertise in a range of software-based skills including graphic arts, motion design and publishing for print and screen media.

Working across lots of visual media, the Communication Design programme spans Illustration, Motion Graphics, Typography, Concept Art, and Storytelling. Dodson has a background in visual narrative: the combination of storytelling and design. Another new faculty member, Laura Yilmaz, is also skilled in using visuals for personal expression, particularly in motion design and animation. The Communication Design programme aims to extend traditional practices of graphic design and illustration to new horizons. From exploring personal narrative and expression to engaging new technologies in time-based and computational design, the work visually expresses a local perspective on global culture.

Expression and storytelling are explored through innovative technologies and academic design theory, preparing students to pioneer new paths in the design industry after graduation. There’s also a first-year course in Māori Narratives, taught by David Hakaraia. During the programme, students learn how the Māori community played a role in shaping New Zealand’s design industry.

Hazel Darney – The Relevance of Cultural Knowledge to Gender Inclusive Media Design

Ross Hulley – The Importance of Re-Use and Recycling.

One great thing about studying at Victoria is the degree flexibility, meaning that if you have multiple interests, you can choose to specialise in two majors from the same school or sometimes, a major from different schools as part of your degree. This gives Communication Design and Students have the option to combine their studies with Interaction Design, Design for Social Innovation, Industrial Design or Media Design.

Head of the School of Design Associate Professor Douglas Easterly says, “As a school we are committed to the exploration of innovative technologies and new modes and methods of design education and research, situated within social and environmentally engaged practice.”

The programme looks to offer an interesting angle on the traditional design education, anticipating a future in flux and bringing a personal, situated perspective to visual work. “Our students have stories to tell,” says Dodson “and the new global language is visual.”

To find out more visit the Victoria University of Wellington website.


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