The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Academics

Design & Creative Technologies

 

The Department of Art is preparing to launch a Certificate in Design & Creative Technologies for Fall 2023. Stay tuned for more information soon.

At UMass Amherst, the discipline of design integrates visual art, digital technology, and problem solving, across various media, to prepare the next generation of forward-thinking creatives. In design courses, students create posters, publications, visual identities, infographics, digital products and services, games, motion graphics, interactive media, digitally fabricated artworks, and more.

Focus is placed on critical engagement with contemporary culture, emphasizing topics central to design, such as: accessibility, social justice, and sustainability.

Coursework is centered on the aesthetic, technical, and intellectual skills necessary to pursue an interdisciplinary design practice. Students are encouraged to undertake real world assignments in an internship/practicum and/or a service-learning based course, to hone their art production and design thinking skills in everyday contexts.

 

How can I study design at UMass Amherst?

Undergraduates majoring in Art may enroll in our Bachelor of Fine Arts Program, a studio-intensive professional degree. Art majors who are looking for the broadest available liberal arts education may choose our Bachelor of Arts in Art degree. Students in all degree programs, including the Minor in Art, who are interested in graphic design, design thinking, digital media, and related fields, are welcome to participate in rich course offerings, including design courses, to fulfill studio electives.

Currently, BFA students interested in graphic design, motion graphics, and/or digital art typically concentrate in Animation or Intermedia and gear their upper-level requirements or studio electives in design. Students interested in digital and traditional 3D fabrication are encouraged to take courses in Sculpture alongside core design studios.

Contact Professor Jeff Kasper with any questions: jeffkasper@umass.edu.
Forthcoming program application and requirements will be published on this webpage when available.

 

What kind of community-engaged projects, internships, or career-focused opportunities are there for UMass design students?

Student may pursue internships on- or off-campus as part of their studies at UMass. A maximum of 12 Independent Study and/or Practicum credits can be applied toward studio art degree requirements. Students have interned and collaborated with the University Museum of Contemporary Art, Herter Art Gallery, Department of Theater, and with cultural institutions, marketing and design firms, among others. Semester and year long design engagements have recently been offered with Paperbark Magazine, Baystate Health, and Mass 4-H. Graduates are currently working in the non-profit, publishing, and technology sectors, as social media and communications associates, graphic and motion designers, project managers, user experience designers, maker-educators, and more!

Each semester Arts Extension Service offers an Arts & Humantities Internship Fair. Visit the HFA Careers Office for more information about jobs and internships in the field.

 

What are the differences between graphic design and the design area at UMass Amherst?

Other colleges and universities offer majors in graphic design, a discipline historically focused solely on print and web-based visual communications. At UMass Amherst, we take an interdisciplinary approach. As the field rapidly expands, our department prioritizes innovativion in order to prepare students to become the future leaders of many new artistic fields and industries. Students in our program forge their own path.

Design study at UMass Amhest integrates visual communications with design thinking and making with creative technologies. Studies are grounded in graphic layout, digital typography and image creation, and brought to life through iterative problem solving, research, prototyping, and collaboration. Core to design study at UMass is experimentation with industry-standard software such as the Adobe Creative Cloud and Autodesk Maya, and tools such as the CNC routers, 3D printers, and laser cutters, among others. Students build their own unique portfolio, while facilitating projects with diverse groups and teammates.

 

Core Design Course Offerings:

ART 264 - DIGITAL DESIGN

Number of Credits: 3
Prerequisites: ART 131 or one of the following with permission:
ART 104, ART 105, ART 110, ART 142, ART 153.
Offered in fall and spring semesters

Digital media is a key creative tool for artists and designers. Lectures, readings, and tutorials introduce students to contemporary design practice, including: digital typography, page design and layout, vector based graphics, and design for the screen. Design projects range from purely textual, single and multi-page document design, to problems that require the successful integration of typography, image, and basic interaction. Students explore how context and form affect meaning and message through the creation of conceptual solutions. Assignments and exercises assist in developing fluency in creative problem-solving and visual communications using desktop publishing and computer graphics software.

 

ART 364 - DESIGN THINKING FOR SOCIAL INNOVATION

Number of Credits: 3
Prerequisites: Art 264, 274, Art 275,  or Art 310
Offered in spring and fall semesters on a rotating basis

This course offers a practical, experience-based introduction to design thinking tools and techniques. Students explore design for social impact through individual assignments and by working in teams. In this service-learning course, students will participate in a community project or placement guided by an organizational partner that contributes to the public good. By developing projects on and off campus, students will build core skills in creative research, art direction, visual design, prototyping, and the ability to work collaboratively. 

This course is a designated “Service-Learning” course, endorsed by the office of Civic Engagement and Service-Learning at UMass Amherst.

 

ART 389 - PORTFOLIO PRACTICUM

Number of Credits: 1
Prerequisites: Junior and Senior ART and BDIC majors only
Offered in spring semester

This practicum is geared towards students interested in preparing effective job search tools, resumes and digital portfolios of creative work. Students who have previously taken an internship in design or creative fields develop a presentation that includes work samples from the internship experience. Additionally, this practicum includes guest speakers from the university, local organizations, and creative industry geared towards students' exposure to the professional workplace for artists, makers, creative technologists, and designers.

 

ART 464 - DESIGN PROJECTS AND PRODUCTION

Number of Credits: 3
Prerequisites: ART 264, 275 & 375 or ART 264, 274 & 385
Offered in spring semester

Exploration of form, content, function, strategy, and problem solving by integrating digital media, art production, and interdisciplinary visual design methodologies. Students will engage in various intermediate and advanced level studio projects using industry standard software to create and prepare final work for screen, print, and digital fabrication. Topics may include both practical and conceptual applications of data visualization, visual identity, product development, publication design, user experience, motion design, and interactive projects.

 

Recommended Digital Media Courses:

ART 274 - ANIMATION FUNDAMENTALS

Number of Credits: 3
Prerequisites: ART 104, 110, 120, or 131
Offered in fall semester

Introduction to traditional animation techniques as used in fine art animation and experimental film/video.  Basics of locomotion, timing, lighting, camera moves, exposure, sound design and audio an visual editing.

 

ART 275 - DIGITAL IMAGING

Number of Credits: 3
Prerequisites: ART 104, 110, 120, or 131
Offered fall and spring semester

This course explores the creative possibilities of digital image creation and manipulation using Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop.  Through demonstrations, creative technical assignments, students explore the digital workflow in independent projects involving sustained inquiry into self selected theme.

 

ART 385 - MEDIA AND MOTION GRAPHICS

Number of Credits: 3
Prerequisites: ART 274
Offered spring semester

Experimental and narrative film titles and interactive art are studied and used as a catalyst for creation of experimental and applied motion graphics. Previous sound and visual editing experience helpful.

 

ART 345 - DIGITAL MEDIA: PRINTMAKING

Number of Credits: 3
Prerequisites: ART 104, 110, 120, or 131

This course explores, through demonstrations and technical assignments, the creative possiblities of digital image creation and manipulation using primarily Photoshop, and the printmaking technique of Photopolymer Gravure processes.