By Amber Sidner
We see it everywhere: in newspapers and magazines, on billboards, book covers, and soup cans. Just about everywhere you look these days. You will find elements of graphic design. It has become a part of our modern culture and one of the top tools used by businesses to expose their brands to consumers.
In the fall semester of 2012 the Bachelors of Applied Science Degree in Graphic Design Administration and Supervision was made available through The Anna Lamar Switzer Center for Visual Arts at the Pensacola State College main campus. Visual Arts Department Head Krist Lien explained, “When the college only had a 2 year associates degree program, private schools were frequently coming up to recruit graduating students and many students were leaving after 2 years and going straight to work.” Lien and President Edward Meadows then decided to look into a four-year program. After much research and development and with the aid of Graphic Design Program Coordinator Mark Hopkins, the degree became available to students.
The Graphic Design B.A.S degree program is a 120 credit hour program made up of 42 required general courses, 21 business courses, and 21 graphic design courses. “The original thought,” says Lien, “was providing training for students who were interested in owning their own business or wanted to enter at a higher level position such as an art director.” While the Associates degree puts an emphasis on the technological aspect of design, the Bachelors program expands on that idea with advanced courses such as Typography III, Graphic Design III, and Portfolio II, which provide a fundamental exiting tool for graduates. Pensacola State College students who obtain both Associates and Bachelors degrees in graphic design, exit with a highly developed portfolio that is revised throughout their years of study. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics a well-developed portfolio is one of the most important things a graphic designer will need to land a job.
Mark Hopkins plays a large role in the enrichment and development of the Graphic Design B.A.S program and explains, “Graphic design is a way to communicate through imagery, color, type, texture, etc. and using those elements to help someone find a solution to make money.” Hopkins writes courses, hires adjuncts, selects all appropriate software and literature, and instructs many of the advanced courses that bachelors students in the graphic design program will need to graduate.
Hopkins has also introduced students to semester-long paid internships provided by Lamar Advertising Company. Students who are hired on as interns must be currently enrolled in a graphic design program at PSC and meet some minimum experience requirements. If selected for an internship the students will be paid to create actual billboard designs that are projected digitally all over the United States. The internship program provides students with an opportunity to learn what it is like to work with seasoned graphic designers in a professional setting. In addition to seasonal interns, Lamar has employed five full-time graphic designers who are all Pensacola State graduates.
Sherita Smith was one of nine original graduates from the Graphic Design B.A.S. and explained the program’s benefits, “The way it’s set up, it only took two years and that just flew by.” Smith added that she landed a job as an Assistant Marketing Director at Caribe Resort in Orange Beach as soon as she graduated. Mock interviews had been set up by Mark Hopkins with active professionals from graphic design and related fields to prepare students for future job search. “The mock interviews with real professionals helped me the most,” says Smith, “I learned to pace myself and be confident at an interview.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that graphic design employment should increase by an average of around 7% between 2012 to 2022, which is slower than average for all occupations. This means competition will be high for available positions and career seekers with a strong portfolio, diverse style, and knowledge of a wide array of media and tools will have an advantage when applying for jobs.
*For more statistical information on graphic design employment go to http://www.bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/graphic-designers.htm
**To find out more about the Bachelors Program for Graphic Design at PSC, contact Krist Lien or Mark Hopkins at (850) 484-2554