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Graphic Design

Graphic designers shape our daily lives in a variety of ways—informing and educating the public (posters, publications, web sites and information graphics), creating relationships (branding and product packaging), helping people find where they are going (signage and wayfinding), creating awareness (exhibitions) and providing technical resources (typeface design). In this ever-expanding field, the career choices are diverse.

This course introduces the basic concepts, principles and techniques of graphic design.

Emphasis will be placed on exploring the diversity of skills needed to be a successful graphic designer in any of the career paths offered. Topics covered will include conceptual skills such as idea generation and problem solving, formal skills such as typography and composition, and an overview of the basic software applications for both print and web design. Historical and current practitioners, methods and processes will be explored through classroom projects, exercises and local field trips.

This course requires an open, inquisitive and energetic student who is interested in learning about visual communication in all its forms. No prior knowledge or experience of graphic design or its technologies are required. Students will be working with InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator.

Students should bring a 6” X 9” notebook for sketching (unlined paper) and pencils to the first day of class. Additional expenses may include printing costs not to exceed $25.


Ernest Bernhardi is an Adjunct Instructor in the Department of Graphic Design at Virginia Commonwealth University. He is a professional graphic designer with more than 16 years of experience, and his studies have included typography, design process and graphic design for print media. Bernhardi holds a BFA in Communication Arts/Design and an MFA in Design/Visual Communication from VCU.

His interests include painting, collage, chess, walking and Sundays at the local coffee shop.