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Graphic Design Education Association
We start this issue of the GDEA Bulletin with a feature piece by Master Teacher Rob Roy Kelly on his view of the evolution of graphic design education in the United States from the postwar period on. An introduction and part one of a multifaceted discussion is offered herein. Editor: Kevin Byrne
Perspectives on the Postwar Evolution
There are few good programs in Graphic Design in this country. Reasons for this are varied. Some teachers are themselves graduates of weak educational programs; poor instruction and curriculum usually result in graduates who are ineffectual at teaching. Upper administration does not always recognize instructional abilities because administrators are hired mainly for fiscal or management skills and often hire unqualified people to educational positions. Because of financial pressures the educational system frequently adopts values and operates in a manner which is contrary to educational objectives. Improvements in education could be realized by simply changing institutional policies and practices.
There is little wrong with American students. Given a good learning environment, sound curricula, high performance standards, and competent instruction, there are many students who are committed, talented, productive, and quite deserving of a better education. Problems center on the educational system itself and quality of instruction. It has proven very difficult for individuals or faculty to bring about the required reforms within their institutions. Teachers are required to function under nearly impossible conditions related to insufficient number of faculty, inadequate space, low operating budgets, and institutional policies that inhibit achievement of educational goals. A concerted effort to improve the quality of Graphic Design education is in order, one that will require the combined support of professionals and educators at large.
Professional organizations such as the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) and the American Center for Design (ACD), combined with educational organizations such as the National Association of Schools of Art and Design and the Graphic Design Education Association (GDEA) (see ACD), need to coordinate their efforts toward fewer but better-defined goals. Such goals might be considered standards requisite for any educational program advertising itself as providing professional education in Graphic Design.
Despite working conditions in most schools, productive programs in Graphic Design can still be achieved by qualified and dedicated faculty. It is not my intent to provide a "how to" manual on Graphic Design education, nor do I expect concurrence with every statement herein. It is my intent to share my experiences in teaching Graphic Design over a period of thirty-five years at a variety of educational institutions. I would hope that my observations and experiences might inform or stimulate other teachers to develop their own approach to design pedagogy and move us all towards a general improvement in the quality of Graphic Design.
The Educational Years
My education began at the University of Nebraska under the G.I. Bill in 1946. At that time, the G.I. Bill paid for your tuition, books and supplies, and provided $65 a month for living expenses. The benefits applied to the school of your choice, and, if you transferred to another institution, the benefits went with you.
At the University of Nebraska, my major was Advertising Design but my teachers were painters. At that time, I was allowed to take only three credits of studio art each semester; all the rest of my classes were academic. After two years at the University of Nebraska I felt frustrated because my interests were in art. My problems were compounded because I also held two outside jobs. My grades dropped. The Veterans Administration called me in for an interview. I was told that decision time had arrived: either it was school or job, but not both. The easiest solution for me was to transfer to a school where more art classes were available and to not take an outside job. I knew only two art schools-one in Minneapolis and the other in Kansas City. After making application both schools accepted me. I could not make up my mind so I tossed a coin: heads for Minneapolis and tails for Kansas City. Kansas City won, but on further reflection, I decided that fishing was better in Minnesota, so I went to the Minneapolis School of Art in 1948. (So much for "big" decisions!)
My declared major was Advertising Design. Schooling was interrupted by the Korean conflict. I was in charge of the silk screen shop at Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, California. After completing my service, I returned to Minneapolis, taught silk-screen, and finished my last year of studies in 1952.
After receiving my BFA I remember feeling serious trepidation about not being ready to go out into the world. At the time, I was teaching a silk screen course and had been asked to continue in that role. The art school was then seeking accreditation, and, when I approached President Wilhelmus B. Bryan about going to graduate school, he was supportive and encouraging. There were no faculty with graduate degrees in art, and he knew this was going to be a factor in receiving accreditation.
I did not know of any schools with graduate programs. I eventually settled on Cooper Union. Dr. Bryan did some checking and called me into his off ice and, with a rather puzzled look on his face, informed me that Cooper Union did not have a graduate program. Before I could make another such mistake, Charles Sawyer, the Dean of the School of Art at Yale University, visited our school. Dr. Bryan told him there was a young teacher who wanted to go to graduate school. I was summoned from the silk screen studio with ink on my hands and smelling of lacquer thinner to meet Dr. Sawyer. He asked: would I like to attend Yale University? My answer was, "if I could get into the program." Dr. Sawyer quickly responded by saying, "it is not if you can get in, it is 'do we have what you want?"' I then asked what they had. He mentioned Albers, Lustig, Matter and others. I did not know who any of these people were, nor did I know in what city Yale University was located. But I had heard that if you went to either Harvard, Princeton or Yale, life would be good to you. I told Dr. Sawyer that Yale University sounded just fine.
My graduate work was done at Yale University where I enrolled in 1953. My entrance into Yale was "back door" because of Dr. Sawyer's intervention. I doubt if I would have been accepted through a normal application process. Two years at Yale were bewildering. Having grown up in a number of small towns in Nebraska, I probably experienced more cultural shock coming to Yale than most foreign students. While I sensed that everything being said and done was extremely important, I did not understand it. It was several years after graduation before my Yale experiences were finally assimilated.
At Yale, Josef Albers introduced me to the meaning of "visual." Basic design terminology took an new meaning for me. I learned the significance of nuance. I began the color class with Albers and finished it with Sy Sillman. These courses were revelations for me and had an enduring influence on my own development. For anyone with an interest in teaching, Josef Albers was an exemplary role model. He had enormous experience and insight into teaching and students. He was the most effective and inspirational teacher I ever encountered. I am certain it was Albers and not coincidence that led to so many of his graduates going into teaching. My experiences at Yale were the foundation for what I was to do as a teacher, and it prepared me to appreciate, at a later date, the teaching of Armin Hofmann.
During my two years in Graphic Design at Yale University much instruction was handled by a group of established designers commuting between New Haven and New York. Alvin Lustig and Herbert Mätter came in on a regular basis. Leo Lionni, Alexy Brodovitch, and Lester Beall gave extended problems. Alvin Eisenman and Norman Ives lived in the New Haven area, and Gabor Peterdi came in from Norwalk.
The term Graphic Design had never come to my attention until Yale. The curriculum based on typography and printing production, photography, printmaking, and graphic design was radically different from what was being taught at other schools. Students were enthusiastic, worked hard and there was a great deal of interaction at all levels. Faculty were superb role models for students-both by their work and professional stature. Graphic Design was a new field, the first real alternative to Advertising, and students were excited by their prospects following graduation.
The one thing I was most certain of after Yale was that my talents were not quite sufficient to consider professional design practice as a career. However, the education at Yale had been extremely beneficial for me; it opened my eyes to entirely new possibilities, one of which was teaching. I had observed excellent teachers and worked in an exciting new program taught by individuals of exceptional ability. I felt a "missionary" zeal to take some of this back to the midwest. It was many years later that I finally realized that, for me, Graphic Design was a means and never an end.
My strengths grew out of being exposed to a good educational background with high standards, being able to come to grips with the educational process and having plenty of physical energy. I enjoyed the people contact of teaching and working in the community or profession. I was able to set goals, analyze, organize and structure an educational program. Persistence was helpful but it often put me in jeopardy with administrators. My inclinations have been to stay with basics and to ask for commitment, productivity, and performance from students. Graphic Design for me has been merely a vehicle to those things which are exciting and rewarding.
My earlier experiences at the University of Nebraska and the Minneapolis School of Art took on new meaning because of what I learned at Yale. Teachers and experiences at all three institutions have stayed with me and contributed to my later role as a teacher.
After graduation from Yale, I returned to the Minneapolis School of of Art. Since I was the only teacher with a MFA the president frequently consulted with me on filling new positions. I recommended those people from Yale that I felt had understood the program. We hired six or seven graduates from Yale within a three year period.
I came back to the Minneapolis School of Art as a printmaker and established the Printmaking program there. At the time Advertising Design had the largest enrollment in the school but the program was faltering. The president called me to his office and requested that I establish a Graphic Design program. I agreed to do this. It was my intention to spend one or two years setting up a Graphic Design program, and then return to Printmaking. During these years I regularly taught woodcut, and drawing at the Summer Art Colony in Grand Marais, Minnesota with Birney Quick and Byron Bradley.
The Graphic Design program was established in 1957 and was "in competition" with Advertising Design. My first class had seven students and I was the only teacher. Advertising Design was phased out of the curriculum two years later. The new program in Graphic Design gained impetus as it coincided with the building of new space for Foundations, a wood-working shop, and Graphic Design studios. I was able to plan the space, acquire equipment, and hire four new faculty. I never returned to Printmaking; this was the beginning of my professional career as a teacher working in Graphic Design.
The post-World War II period were hectic years marked by dramatic changes in all postsecondary education including visual art and design.
Next: The Tumultuous Years
Rob Roy Kelly is retired professor of graphic design living in Phoenix. He taught for thirty-five years in a variety of institutions and founded the graphic design programs at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and the Kansas City Art Institute in the 1950s. He was staff designer at the Walker Art Center, the Guthrie Theater, and the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, and continues to consult, write, and lecture. In 1989 Professor Kelly was given GDEA's Master Teacher Award for his lifelong service as a graphic design educator.
This essay was to be delivered to a symposium scheduled last year (1992) to celebrate the thirty fifth anniversary of the founding of Graphic Design at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Since health problems prevented Professor Kelly from sharing his views at that time he has generously offered GDEA the opportunity to publish his material in several installments. We salute our master teacher and the Bulletin editor invites written responses from GDEA members and friends.Go to Top of Page
We continue Master Teacher Rob Roy Kelly's account of graphic design education as it developed after World War II. Editor: Kevin Byrne
Postwar Graphic Design Education:
When I enrolled at the Minneapolis School of Art, the registration line was nearly a block long. Over six hundred students, most of them on the G.I. Bill, were in attendance. The largest enrollment prior to World War 11 had been a hundred and thirty students. When my turn to register came, they noticed that I had studied art at the University of Nebraska for two years, and I was asked if I wanted to teach or be a student? Wisely, I affirmed the latter.
Many classes were taught in museum corridors with free-standing dividers between classes. A substantial number of the teachers were drawn from the ranks of PWA and WPA artists who had practiced art full-time under government subsidy from the early 1930's until World War II. The student body was composed mainly of veterans, and it was overwhelmingly older and male. Curriculum was dominated by fine arts. Even as an Advertising major, many fine arts courses were required. What we now call "foundations" was a two year program consisting of classes in basic design, color, painting, sculpture and drawing. The only academic course was Art History and this was taught by painting or drawing instructors. Most studio courses were required with few electives. The school awarded certificates to qualified students after four years. Tuition was three to four hundred dollars a semester.
The school closed at 5 pm. No students or teachers were allowed on the premises after that time, only museum security guards. As a young teacher I regularly stuck a matchbook in a basement window lock of the building before leaving the premises. High bushes hid these windows, and I would return in the evening or on weekends and crawl through the window to work. After graduate school when I was a full-fledged instructor, the administration gave me a key to the building. I let students in evenings and weekends to do school work. This was reported by guards to the administration and it was an ongoing source of irritation to them. Finally, the president told me to stop the practice of letting students in after hours or turn in my key. I turned in my key.
In the 1940's, art schools were managed by a Director who came from an art background. In many schools there were no departments, and even when there were, the Director had absolute power over teachers, students and curriculum. I recall an occasion where I sassed the Registrar. I found myself called to the Director's off ice almost immediately, and just as quickly, suspended for two days. The Director had total responsibility for the school and made final decisions on almost everything. Other administrative officers were an Assistant Director, Business Manager and Registrar. The Business Manager usually operated the school supply store. The Director's secretary was an important person in the school as she was often the intermediary between faculty and the Director. The majority of teachers were practicing artists and rarely had a degree in art. There were many part-time teachers in both fine arts and advertising design. I believe that, to some extent or another, this pattern applied to most art schools, especially those which were regional. It is my impression that art schools in large metropolitan areas such as New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles did not change as abruptly as the regional schools.
This era began with the G.I. Bill. This was an amazing piece of legislation and most appropriate for the times. The war had ended and, at the same time, manufacturing plants ceased wartime production, cut the workforce and began retooling for peacetime markets. Millions of veterans were coming home and would be seeking employment. The G.I. Bill would keep many of the veterans out of the job markets for two to four years, allowing industry to make adjustments. There were approximately nine million men and women eligible for educational benefits. The scale of the program would significantly raise the educational level of American workers. Veterans inundated almost every type of educational institution throughout the country, including technical schools, art and music academies, and public or private universities.
Art schools expanded their staffs and facilities to accommodate the sudden influx of veterans which accompanied prosperity. The G.I. Bill created unbelievable incentive for growth in all higher education, and it was to have an effect on post-secondary education long after it was over.
The enrollment of veterans declined about 1952 as quickly as it had begun. Schools were over-committed and faced serious problems because of the sudden decrease in revenue. Some art schools closed down; others were incorporated into rapidly-expanding state systems of multi-campus institutions. A number of art schools saw accreditation as an avenue to survival and began to move in this direction. Accreditation was to change the singlepurpose art schools forever.
With the move toward accreditation a "president" replaced the director as chief administrative officer, and most presidents came from academic backgrounds rather than art. At the Minneapolis School of Art the new president, Wilhelmus B. Bryan, had formerly been the Dean of Humanities at Macalester College in St. Paul and Dean of Students at Princeton University. The Assistant Director became Dean of the College and new administrative off ices were established such as Director of Admissions, Dean of Students, Director of Alumni, Director of Business Affairs, Development Officer and, so on. "Administration" has continued to expand ever since. Department Head positions were created, faculty committees took responsibility for most academic affairs, academic rank and tenure were installed, and academic courses were introduced into the curriculum. Many academic teachers were borrowed from neighboring institutions and taught parttime at the art school.
The basic introductory program was reduced to one year, and the present concept of foundations was established, with fulltime teachers working only in that program. The new academic requirements represented about one-third of the credits for graduation. This meant a reduction in the number of studio credits. The movement of art schools toward accreditation had begun in 1952, and, in 1959, the first art schools became accredited. The list included the Minneapolis School of Art, the School of the Chicago Art Institute, and Cranbrook Academy of Art.
When the call came through to President Bryan from the North Central accrediting off ice saying that the Minneapolis School of Art had been accredited, he immediately notified the president of our trustees. A caterer was called and, within the hour, a large truck parked itself in front of the school. An enormous punch bowl was placed in the front rotunda and there were strawberry tarts and punch for everyone. All classes were dismissed and everyone including some trustees joined in the celebration.
By 1965, most art schools seeking accreditation had achieved their goal. During this period, a number of proprietary schools became accredited in order to benefit from federal funding programs, notably Art Center, the Oakland School of Arts and Crafts, and the School of Visual Arts.
A curious aspect of the move toward accreditation was the change in art school catalogs. Art school catalogs tended to be oversized and somewhat flamboyant, with innumerable examples of student work from all levels and programs. There was a prominent listing of faculty featuring their credentials and examples of their work. Most catalogs were in color or had a color section. When art schools began the process of obtaining accreditation the catalogs shrunk to bulletin size and eliminated most of the illustrations of student and faculty work. This was due to competition with new art programs being established in universities. Art school catalogs were designed to look like academic bulletins. Today's art school catalogs have rightfully moved back to a pre-accreditation format illustrating student and faculty work in color. This is what most prospective art students want to see.
As students using the G.I. Bill disappeared they were replaced by a majority of students from middle class backgrounds. There were increasing numbers of female students. Aside from students' interest in art, low tuition at art schools was a factor.
In 1953, the Soviet Union had successfully launched Sputnik, and there was a growing paranoia in this country that the Russians would surpass this country in education. The U.S. Congress enacted a number of educational bills and the government began pouring millions of dollars into higher education.
One of the first government programs was student financial aid. This program stipulated that the only basis for awarding funds was need-merit was not to be considered. The federal grants required matching funds from the institution and the principle source for institutional funds were those allocated to scholarship.
Until the 1950's those students without resources relied on tuition scholarships which were based on merit. Students were told that if they worked hard in high school and made superior grades, it would make them eligible for a variety of college scholarships. The government financial aid program forced institutions to recommit their scholarship funds, this practically eliminated merit scholarships. It is doubtful that, even to this day, "merit" is a condition in obtaining financial assistance at the same levels as it was prior to federal financial aid programs. This has had a deleterious impact on all post-secondary education inasmuch as excellence as a condition for admission is concerned.
Student financial aid was quickly followed by a series of something called "Title Programs." These provided schools with funds for purchasing equipment and buildings, as well as enriching or expanding programs. There was substantial funding from the private sector during these same years, most of it coming from foundations. This was a period of almost unbelievable growth in all higher education.
The multi-campus state systems were principal recipients of government largess during the 1950's and 1960's. Many state teacher's colleges were incorporated as universities; small private schools, including art schools and music conservatories, were absorbed into state systems. In some instances, now universities were built at new locations from the ground up.
This sudden growth and expansion of educational programs created a huge demand for teachers. Many teachers were hired immediately after graduate school, and often there were just a few years difference in age between students and teachers. During these years most art programs moved away from professional criteria and began hiring teachers on the basis of academic credentials. An M.F.A. in art or design (or its equivalent) was a standard requirement for teaching. This practice was more evident at universities than at art schools. These were the years when visual art programs were introduced or expanded in almost all state universities.
Next: Rebellion, Retrenchment, and Beyond
Excerpts from a Letter...
I was delighted to see the first instalIment of Rob Roy Kelly's engaging essay the the April GDEA Bulletin.
Rob is one of those rare characters whose inclusive knowledge, pure unselfishness, impeccable sense of ethics, and infectious zeal distinguishes him... I know that my life and career has been tremendously enhanced by his. I innocently entered the Minneapolis College of Art and Design graphic design program as it was being formed, followed Rob's earlier path though Yale, [and went on] to teach for him at the Kansas City Art Institute... Then, at his urging, I moved on to develop the University of Cincinnati's program [in graphic design]. I have spent thirty-f ive years learning from, being prodded by, enjoying the influence of, disagreeing with, admiring, and loving Rob Roy Kelly...
Rob is, indeed, one person who has had a profound direct and indirect effect on the lives of thousands of people [in] higher education and graphic design...
Salchow is Professor of Graphic Design at the University of Cincinnati and chairs the Education Initiative at the American Institute of Graphic Arts.Go to Top of Page
Postwar Graphic Design Education:
by Rob Roy Kelly
We continue Rob Roy Kelly's serial on postwar graphic design education wherein he focuses on forces and events during the 1960's and early 1970's. Editor-in-Chief: Kevin Byrne
About 1965, the first rumblings of student activism began. Initially, the student rebellion grew out of opposition to in loco parentis policies at most educational institutions. At the time, many schools operated their own cafeterias supervised by dieticians. There was strict dormitory supervision with enforced policies, and institutions imposed restrictions on student activities in and out of class. Student reaction quickly spread to educational policies. Most program had rigid requirements with few electives, and students were not permitted to cross or mix disciplines. Students began demanding to "do their own thing" in terms of classes, course content, and work. These were the years that minority students began to enroll in large numbers and strongly impacted educational content and student bodies.
The next escalation in student activism was social and political. The 1960's saw civil rights legislation which coincided with urban dots, protest marches, and considerable violence throughout the country. The Viet Nam War was becoming unpopular with the general public by the day and was bitterly contested by young people. As graduate school or teaching exempted students from the draft, more young designers went to graduate school during the Viet Nam years than at any time since.
There were emerging concerns for world environment, population control, and social equality. Students were at the forefront of these movements. Anger was directed at the "establishment" -- what students perceived as relatively small power blocks of wealthy and influential individuals or corporations who controlled government and industry or, in many instances, toward any authority.
The cumulative effect of student actions was violence and destruction of campus properly, disruption, and upheaved in traditional education and institutional policies. Academic authorities were unable to maintain control or protect property, and the administrative composition and role in education was to irrevocably change because of the student rebellion.
Freedom to "do what one wanted" and peer group pressure became dominant forces shaping student behavior, Inflated grades were characteristic of the time and have never normalized. Educational programs were fragmented to accommodate student demands and many still are. Some student attitudes from that period still persist.
It is rather ironic that, during this period, some of my graphic design colleagues and students were heavily involved with the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department. We worked with Clarence Kelley, who succeeded Edgar Hoover as head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Students and faculty did a number of public information programs such as crime alert, annual report covers, and even decor for police conventions. I personally wrote a theme article on black police officers for one annual report and was extensively involved in developing programs for community centers there. Hans Alleman designed several annual reports, as well as police vehicle identification. A police department collaborating with an art school was surely a most unusual working relationship for the 1960's.
Student activism ended much more suddenly than it began. The movement ceased with the shootings (of students) at Kent State University. In terms of student motivation, I never had a more difficult year than 1971-1972. My students were completely demoralized. Most of them neither cared about nor finished assignments.
The student movement was quickly replaced by what was then called "retrenchment". The Viet Nam War had concluded, the national debt had reached proportions that affected government spending, and federal money for education evaporated. The economy was weak and inflation began to soar. Educational institutions were overextended and enrollments were declining. Tuition, particularly in private schools, dramatically increased. It was during this period that many students who attended art schools moved to state universities, where tuition increases had been less. Many educational administrators saw conditions as being temporary. They believed that once the economy recovered and the national debt was reduced, the government would again pump money into the educational system. This did not happen. During these same year, the number and role of community colleges changed dramatically. Formerly called "junior colleges", these institutions received new recognition because universities were experiencing problems stemming from huge first-year classes and an equally large drop-out rate. Some form of intermediate schooling between secondary school and university seemed a logical response to the situation.
The 1970's brought significant economic changes due to worsening financial conditions. There was a sudden shift in the economy from production to service and high technology. Manufacturing plant closed, raising unemployment to unacceptable level; foreign competition created an unfavorable trade balance and the national debt continued growing. There was high inflation and interest rates were climbing to record levels.
At a time when higher education badly needed new funding sources, American industry was in need of extensive research and development to stay competitive in world markets. New working relationships emerged wherein industry and government contracted for research with university personnel and universities gained additional revenue. The movement from fundamental to applied research was immediate and overwhelming.
Through the 1950's and 1960's university faculties had become relatively complacent. Many of them had come into teaching directly after graduate school and had little practical experience in their fields. Many were not professionally active. Universities had to gear up their faculties to meet new demands. This marked an era where there was enormous administrative pressure on faculty for research, professional accomplishment, and national or international recognition. Pressure was applied across the board to all fields of study, including art and design. By this time, the majority of graphic design programs and the largest block of design students were enrolled at state universities.
Institutional pressures for research and professional accomplishment were unfavorable conditions for graphic design education. There were few increases in operating budgets affecting faculty, equipment, and space, as universities preferred to allocate more resources into areas that could generate research income. This compounded problems for graphic design programs that already existed at most state universities. Problems included educational structure without departments or leadership, weak curricula, a liberal arts emphasis with minimal requirements in the major, under-staffing, and inadequate operating budgets and space. In far too many instances, graphic design at state universities was a "student-centered" major with few standards for admission, retention, or graduation. These conditions still exist.
Rob Roy Kelly was awarded the first GDEA Master Teacher Award.Go to Top of Page
Postwar Graphic Design Education:
by Rob Roy Kelly
This concludes Master Teacher Rob Roy Kelly's account of Graphic Design education as it developed after World War II. Editor: Kevin Byrne
Design in the 1950's and 1960's
These were the golden years for Industrial Design and programs were well attended. The first Industrial Design degree program had been established at Carnegie Technical Institute in the mid-thirties. During these years, Industrial Design was interpreted mainly as "styling". Beginning in the 1960's, definitions for Industrial Design began to diverge. Some programs stayed with the styling approach while others began to evolve. Laszlo Moholy-Nagy and Jay Doblin at the Institute of Design and Buckminster Fuller had great influence on Industrial Design education in these years. Research, human factors, and social concerns constituted new curricula in Industrial Design at many schools. Doblin and his colleagues introduced computeraided design and "problem structuring" in the 1960's. Some Industrial Design programs were based in engineering, a few in architecture, while the majority remained attached to art or design.
Illustration programs were strong in the early years of this period. Illustration was popular with students, and most programs were heavily enrolled. A number of Illustration programs were closely aligned with Advertising Design. Illustration students were required to take advertising courses and vice versa.
Graphic Design Emerges as Program Title and Profession
In the 1950's the surge of American corporations to establish a public identity gave enormous impetus to Graphic Design as a profession and as something other than marketing. Most corporations had substantial design departments and some retained prestigious designers as consultants. Corporate design practices and objectives were borrowed by smaller businesses, and Graphic Design was firmly established as a profession in this period. There was a corresponding impact on Graphic Design education as systems, layout grids, human factors, symbol and letterform design, typography, communication, formal values, and (eventually) design history were all addressed as concerns or new courses. The now educational focus was a direct outgrowth of design emphasis in business during the 1950's and 1960's.
1960's, 1990's and the Blur Beyond In the 1980's the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) established regional chapters and became a national organization. AIGA chapters replaced the old Art Director's Clubs in many major cities. In recent years the Society for the Typographic Arts has renamed itself the American Center for Design (ACD) and redirected its mission toward becoming a more national organization. Even though most educational programs and professional studios work under the designation of Graphic Design, there is a great variance in what they do and in standards that guide their performance.
Graphic Designers are visual communicators and problem-solvers who work with human factors, research and analysis, and "ground" themselves in theory and formal values. They are more prone to .recommend" to a client than to ask what the client "wants," usually preferring to operate at a professional level rather as a vendor for their clients. Graphic Designers often collaborate with other professionals such as architects, engineers, industrial designers, marketers, and others. They work in industry, publishing, television, packaging, exhibit design, education and government. I have always preferred Graphic Design to Advertising as an educational endeavor because of the wider latitude of job opportunities for graduates.
By the 1990's, most of the individuals who have been pivotal in Graphic Design education since World War II have died, have retired, or their retirement is imminent. The distinctions between Graphic Design and Advertising, strongest in the fifties and sixties, are now blurred. The large influential corporate design departments no longer exist. Today, the ultimate criterion for design today seems to be success in the marketplace; this is unfortunate. Graphic Design education is now being shaped by technology but it is unclear how this is going to affect traditional values. It is equally unclear who the new leaders will be and in what direction Graphic Design is moving. These blurred horizons suggest change for Graphic Design pedagogy.
Rob Roy Kelly Is a noted designer, professor (retired), and pioneer founder of the Graphic Design Programs at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and Kansas City Art Institute. He also taught at Carnegie Mellon University and Arizona State University, and was awarded the first GDEA Master Teacher Award. Editor
More on Rob Roy Kelly:
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