Teaching Graphic Design with 19th Century Technology: A Physiological Approach to Graphic Design Education

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Over the course of the last few decades, the primary emphasis of a graphic design education has evolved from teaching techniques of physical production to teaching individualized cognitive problem-solving. This monumental change is directly attributable to the development of computer technology as the primary tool of a graphic designer. This shift from a hands-on approach of making design objects to a cerebral approach of thinking about ideas and 'creating' from behind an abstracted veneer of a computer screen removes significant and integral physiological components of an educational experience. Students are left without the phenomenological reciprocity of form and idea, without the wonderful experience of learning through making, without discovering their own creative process through the proprioceptive engagement of mind, body and material.

In response to first-hand observations of current students and recent graduates, the Visual Communications Program at the University of Delaware, (part of the department of Art), has recently established a fully functioning letterpress facility and revised BFA degree curriculum which positions letterpress as fundamental to typography and typography as fundamental to graphic design education. This presentation outlines how the Visual Communications Program integrates letterpress and computer technology into a curriculum that emphasizes the inherent value of physical experience in the development and manifestation of ideas. Many examples of student work will be presented as specific case studies of this approach to graphic design education as a corporeal, physiological endeavor.


Keywords: Graphic, Design, Education, Letterpress, Physiological, Phenomenological, Experience
Stream: Technology in Education
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Ashley John Pigford

Assistant Professor, Director of Raven Press, Visual Communications Program
Department of Art, University of Delaware

Newark, DE, USA

Professor Ashley John Pigford is an experienced graphic design practitioner, hybrid-media artist and educator. Prior to his career in education, Ashley owned and operated an award-winning graphic design company in Los Angeles, California with clients ranging from small non-profit organizations to multi-million dollar entertainment conglomerates. Ashley’s current research and studio practice is an on-going inquiry the creation and perception of poetical experience through physiological interaction between mind, body and material. He works in a wide variety of media including letterpress, installation, micro-electronics, sound art and sculpture. His work is process-driven and the forms he creates exist as results of discovery, intuition and chance. As coordinator of the Visual Communications Program (part of the department of Art) at the University of Delaware, Ashley has instigated significant changes to the Visual Communications BFA degree curriculum. He has created a graphic design program that integrates traditional art-making processes (i.e. letterpress) with modern computer technology and emphasizes physiological experience in the development and manifestation of ideas. For more information, to view his portfolio of major works and read his ongoing studio blog, please visit: http://www.designisgoodforyou.com.

Ref: T08P0416