Our guide to graphic art courses


Are you fascinated by the colour, design and typeface of a baked bean can? Or are you a serious magazine junkie who adores not just the content of what you're reading but the way the features are laid out on the page using striking imagery and clever use of colour to maximum effect? If so, the world of graphic art could be the perfect career choice for you. The wide range of courses are vast and varied and cover everything from technical skills, critical thinking, the history of graphic art through to analysing a brief, digging for inspiration and visualising ideas.


Career choice

If you choose to study graphic art, a huge variety of different career paths will open up. You could work in a design studio, try art direction, editorial design, typography, branding and advertising. Visual designs and concepts are needed for practically everything around us, be it a high street retailer's website, a cover for the latest bestseller, a TV ad selling washing powder, a new identity for a computer game or a huge global car exhibition. Who can forget the powerful and provocative Benetton poster ad campaigns or the kitsch Shake 'n' Vac lady singing along as she cleans her carpet? A graphic designer works to a brief agreed with the client and develops creative ideas and concepts to meet that objective.

For those who have got the graphic design bug bad, there are on offer, among others, three-year, full-time courses to gain a BA (Hons), a two-year HND to springboard you into the world of visual communications and part-time BTEC courses as an introduction to graphic design or to brush up on your technical skills. You will gain a full insight into the role of the professional graphic designer as visual communicator and problem solver with options to specialise in illustration, print and digital graphics. The wide range of teaching methods and modules will certainly get your creative juices flowing through skills-based workshops, analytical thinking, industry-related projects, presentation skills and producing a professional portfolio.


There may also be opportunities to go on placements with high-profile agencies and attend conferences with a clutch of visionary designers. You might also take part in national global competitions to show off your newfound graphic design skills and creative flair.


Where to begin?

If you're already in a job and fancy a career change or you'd like to widen your skillset, a beginner’s course in graphic art is a great option. There are many part-time beginners evening courses on offer where you will begin to explore the exciting and ever-changing world of graphic design through a series of lectures and short projects. Each week you will cover a different element and grasp the fundamentals of typography, layout and image-making with discussion and debate always at the forefront of learning. This might be the perfect route for you if want to apply for an HND or BA course - or you simply have an enquiring mind and want to use your creativity in a new way.


Three names every graphic designer should know

Milton Glaser - An American graphic designer best known for the I ♥ NY logo in 1977 and his work for Bob Dylan and DC Comics. He also co-founded New York Magazine in 1968


Neville Brody - Best known for art-editing cult UK magazine The Face during its 1980s heyday


David Carson - Seriously influential graphic designer of the 1990s who art directed music and lifestyle magazine Ray Gun. Best known for his experimental grunge typography style


Do you remember?

Some of the most memorable television adverts stay with us for days, months, even years after they are first shown. Whether it's down to humour, great music, a quirky concept or just something that captures the spirit of the time, these five weird and wonderful TV ads have certainly not been forgotten:


GUINNESS SURFER (1999): Hailed as one of the best TV ads of all time, a 60-second , highly-charged ad to promote Guinness-brand draught stout. To a soundtrack of atmospheric music by British-band Leftfield, the black and white ad centres around a group of surfers waiting for the perfect wave. Shot in Hawaii over a nine day period, as the gigantic wave arrives, the crashing 'white horses' turn into actual horses, with one surfer managing to conquer the wave


SMASH MARTIANS (1970s & 80s): A series of TV campaigns for Smash instant mashed potato. A family of Martian robots would watch humans laboriously preparing mashed potato and mock what they see. The catchphrase 'For Mash Get Smash' is still as instantly recognisable today as it was decades ago.


LEVI'S LAUNDRETTE (1985): Who can forget teen idol Nick Kamen stripping off to his boxer shorts to promote Levis's Classic 501 jeans? The concept recreated 50s Americana to a soundtrack of Marvin Gaye's 'I Heard It Through The Grapevine' and Levi's sales were said to soar by 800 per cent within a year of the brand's relaunch.


NIKE WRITE THE FUTURE (2010): An advert made by Nike football for the 2010 World Cup. The full-length version is three minutes long and features world-famous football stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Didier Drogba and Wayne Rooney playing in a World Cup match. Different scenarios show how a 'good' shot or 'bad' shot can have a serious ripple effect on society at large.


CADBURY'S GORILLA (2007): Who would have thought that Cadbury's drum-playing Gorilla would have captured the nation so strongly and prove such a hit in promoting its Dairy Milk chocolate brand? Attracting instant cult status, the advert is all about communicating entertainment and enjoyment while the giant ape bashes drums and cymbals to Phil Collins's 'In The Air Tonight'.


By Lara Sargent

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