Graphic Design

The Graphic design emphasis provides students with a thorough intellectual and hands-on understanding of visual communication, and the training to prepare for professional practice.

At Western, the graphic design student acquires a visual language and the means to communicate with it effectively - integrating typography, image development, and the use of design software and photography.

Through a mixture of training and experience, the program develops students’ creative and problem-solving capabilities, while expanding technical and visual skill sets across industry-relevant media and materials. Encouraging and reinforcing the development of that role, faculty guide students in heightening their awareness, expanding their conceptual and organizational abilities, and improving their personal communication and presentation skills. 

Faculty encourage cross-disciplinary studies either as paired electives or independent projects. Beyond the course listings, students find directed study courses particularly viable choices for developing individual interests in print production, illustration, type or package or web design, and other creative or experimental directions. Other naturally allied areas are printmaking, photography, drawing, and painting.

Juniors and Seniors often work on design projects for local and regional non-profit organizations. Involvement on the Pathfinder Magazine production staff allows students another avenue for incorporating classroom skills into a "real world product" — the creation of both an online and a full-color glossy magazine.

Facilities include a newly equipped, extensive Macintosh computer lab with color scanners and wide format color printers. Students work with industry-standard software.

With the help of the department's network among professionals in the field, seniors and graduates have found professional internships, careers and success.

Next Steps

If you're interested in Western's Graphic Design Program, we invite you to take the next steps towards becoming a part of the Mountaineer family. 

Share your interest with friends and family: 
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  2. Get more information about the program.
  3. Schedule a campus visit so you can meet professors, see the beautiful Gunnison Valley, and find out if Western is the perfect school for you.
  4. Start the online application process - apply online now.
  5. Find scholarships, grants, or financial aid that match your interests and situation.


Erin Diller
“In both majors I face problems every day, whether they’re design problems or literal math problems. It is fun, challenging, and rewarding to find solutions especially if it’s a problem I’ve been struggling with,” 

Faculty & Staff


Mayela Cardenas headshot
Associate Professor of Art
Phone: 970.943.3080
Office Location: Quigly 232


FOR REQUIRED COURSES AND DEGREE PLANS, VISIT THE OFFICIAL UNIVERSITY CATALOG. This is a sample of courses offered by Western Colorado University. To ensure the courses you need are offered during the current semester, please visit the university course search.

 ART 246 - Introduction to Photography (3 credits)

An introduction to contemporary photographic technique incorporating traditional black-and-white analogue photography alongside digital photographic practice and procedure. Lectures introduce topic areas that the student must exercise in lab sessions. Students must supply their own "quality" 35mm or 120mm camera. Prerequisites: ART 120, ART 171, and ART 172.

 ART 257 - Introduction to Printmaking (3 credits)

An introduction to the basic techniques of printmaking including lithography, woodcut, etching, and the collagraph. Emphasis is on the traditional approaches in printmaking. Prerequisites: ART 120, ART 171, and ART 172.

 ART 270 - Introduction to Graphic Design and Illustration (3 credits)

An introductory course utilizing the basic fundamentals of art in a broad base of commercial applications. Design in the areas of corporate identity, packaging, illustration, and typography are explored. Illustration, new techniques, materials, and tools used by the designer are emphasized. Prerequisites: ART 120, ART 171, and ART 172.

 ART 271 - Calligraphy/ Typography (3 credits)

A study of individual letter forms as design elements that relate to visual communication. Prerequisites: ART 120, ART 171, and ART 172.

 ART 283 - Introduction to Airbrush (3 credits)

Introduction to the use of the airbrush as a tool for painting, drawing, and design. Multiple use of the tool within traditional and non-traditional directions, as well as tool maintenance, are stressed. Prerequisites: ART 120, ART 171, and ART 172

 ART 370 - Intermediate Graphic Design (3 credits)

A study of graphic design processes and applications. Emphasis is on the exploration of creative solutions to design problems. Topics include past and current design trends, tools, and computer related graphics. Prerequisite: ART 270.

 ART 470 - Advanced Design and Illustration I (3 credits)

An advanced exploration of the expressive possibilities of individual graphic design direction.Students collaborate with the instructor to plan a suitable and particular direction of study. Prerequisite: ART 370.

 ART 471 - Advanced Design and Illustration II (3 credits)

An advanced exploration of the expressive possibilities of individual graphic design direction. Students collaborate with the instructor to plan a suitable and particular direction of study. Prerequisite: ART 470.