TAI Student Rani Vestal Shares about the Graphic Design Minor

Did you know that you can minor in graphic design at SMU? SMU Advertising offers this minor to provide students with a basic understanding and development of skills necessary for design across all media.

I’m currently a junior and always knew that I wanted a creative career – I just didn’t know what it could be. So when I declared my English major in Dedman College as a sophomore, due to my love of writing and literature, I also considered minoring in other disciplines to figure out what I wanted to do in the real world. When I searched through the latest course catalog, I was most intrigued by the Typography class because I love art and fonts. However, I couldn’t take it because I needed to 1) declare the graphic design minor and 2) take three prerequisite classes. With limited Photoshop and Illustrator experience, I met with Cheryl, declared the minor and enrolled in Creative Production. My minors now include history, Spanish, and graphic design. They surprisingly fuse together nicely.

The graphic design minor is unique because it unites students from a variety of majors including the three advertising tracks, studio art and English. We all have different creative interests from 90s album covers to pop art which manifest in our work. I love the classes when we collectively critique design roughs because my peers’ feedback is always valuable and respectful – this ultimately pushes me to better my deigns. I also find it fascinating that we can be given the same project guidelines and produce utterly different, yet equally compelling, work. After taking the same courses these last few years, we’ve really bonded and come to understand each other’s styles in a small graphic design “cohort.” 

I’ve almost completed the fourth and final prerequisite of the minor, and am eager to begin taking elective courses. However, the prerequisites were valuable and here’s why:

  • Creative Production (ADV 1360)
    This class taught me essential keyboard shortcuts in the Adobe Creative Suite which immediately expedited my design process. Having previously learned the programs by myself, these tricks were seriously ground-breaking and make me feel like a design wizard.

  • Word and Image, Art and Design: 1900-Present (ADV 2323)
    This was also right up my alley because it merges two of my favorite subjects: history and graphic design. I still reference the textbook from this class for inspiration because it streamlines historic design samples from cave art in Lascaux, France to postmodern Pee-wee Herman (my latest rediscovery is Lester Beall).
  • Introduction to Graphic Design (ADV 3323)
    I really enjoyed this course because I finally began integrating my knowledge of software and design into class projects. Seeing my personal work in print for the first time, instead of work for a client, was electrifying. I enjoyed learning color theory and creating packaging design for a Monster 826 coffee company.
  • Typography (3361)
    The course I’ve been waiting for! We hit the ground running this semester and dove into typeface classification, calligraphy and more. So far, I’ve prototyped a bitmap typeface and created album art for an angry Aztec band (Spanish + graphic design unite!). By this point, we’re all sort of “type geeks” and I love that we can identify and criticize typefaces together.

Despite my liberal arts major, the minor has helped me land a few advertising internships. Working at SLANT Partners in Downtown Dallas refined my professional skills because I learned how to gracefully correspond with clients. And the skills I developed through the graphic design classes also allowed me to work on real client projects including the brand development of a local philanthropic bakery. I now intern for the Temerlin Advertising Institute which has helped me meet more SMU Advertising faculty and learn about local networking opportunities. Because of this, I feel more connected to the school and industry alike.

If you’re considering the minor or are already enrolled in related courses, I encourage you to explore personal creative projects just for fun. The time you spend ‘playing’ is when you can really discover and develop your unique creative style. I spend much of my free time developing websites and animating graphics because those opportunities interest me but have not yet presented themselves in my courses. I also believe that I’m happier and more confident in my design skills through personal creative outlets because there’s no client or GPA pressure.

I’m excited to launch my creative career as a graphic designer after I graduate which would not be possible without the knowledge and experience I’ve acquired through the graphic design classes. I hope to work for a creative agency that specializes in digital, branding and packaging design. I’ve also considered freelancing before I eventually open up my own coffee shop… stay tuned.

Click here to learn more about the graphic design minor and course offerings.

Graphic Panel of CD Insert
Branding for Personal Podcast
Magazine Layout for Boaz Commons
Physical Representation of Bitmap Typeface

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