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The Graphic Arts area combines aspects of design, illustration, web design, and bookmaking in order to build a set of flexible skills adaptable to students' specific projects and goals.

Courses focus on the development of a personal and public voice through a broad range of approaches utilizing design, printing, typography, graphic images, pictograms, book arts, and interactive web art.

In addition to developing traditional skills in the field of graphic design, the curriculum explore ways in which artists can work outside of commercial contexts, both within galleries and beyond the gallery space with work that engages communities. Course content and seminars are structured around critical thinking and histories of artist's books, publishing, graphic novels, urban interventions, street graphics, public art, and other strategies for a socially engaged practice.

Our students build skills applicable to commercial practice through the exploration of personal and conceptually-driven work that may take the form of sculptural objects, distributed editions, subverted corporate designs, web interventions, or ephemeral communications.

SMFA's bookmaking curriculum encompasses both the design and production of books as art-objects using techniques ranging from the hand-made to the mass-produced.

A strong emphasis of our curriculum is on the craft, design, production, and distribution of book arts and artist’s book publications from traditional hand-binding to print-on-demand editions. The artist's book, a format which had one of its peaks in the art world of the 60's, is today undergoing a Renaissance through various digital printing and distribution methods. Students cultivate a flexible skill set drawing on graphic design, typography, digital software, binding, and printing techniques, while also engaging with historical research. Students produce editions and unique art-objects; sculptural and conceptual books; pamphlets, zines, and digital content; publications as editions, gallery-objects, and mass communication.

Sample Courses

GRA 0060 - Oral and Visual Storytelling
Learn how to compose penetrating questions, become an active listener, conduct relevant research, digitally record interviews and translate your new knowledge into a communicative creation such as a website, book, performance, film, installation, series of canvases, or sound environment.

GRA 0122 - Remade, Recycled, Reconfigured
This mixed media studio class will explore collage in its many potential configurations: as visual poetry, as conjunction/disjunction, as narrative, as social commentary, as recycling—a perfect vehicle for combining text, image, and object.

GRA 0120 - The Power of Feminist Art
In this class we will address questions of power, difference, and inequality and will explore issues of race, gender, sexuality, class, abilities and disabilities, religion, privilege and oppression through studio assignments, presentations and discussions that examine the connection among feminist philosophy, art activism, and feminist art.

GRA 0104 - Toolbox for Social Engagement
This course is intended for students who wish to create work exploring alternative strategies while making socially engaged art, covering issues regarding street graphics, web-based interventions, and other forms of participatory art works and introducing the basic tools and skills used in the graphic arts in print and web publishing.

GRA 0100 - Codex in Context: Artists Books
This advanced studio/seminar course is for students who are ready to work independently on a long-term project that uses typography, sequencing, language of the graphic arts and the book format.

Round Table Discussion

SMFA Graduate Round Table Discussion

We sat down with Graduate Program Director Jeannie Simms and MFA students Jamie Kay and Kimberly Barnes, for a discussion on contemporary art practice through the lens of their experiences at SMFA.