Graphic and digital design program brings creative energy to UFV Mission

UFV has launched a new program at its Mission site, located in the Heritage Park Centre.

A new type of student is bringing a new kind of energy to the Mission campus of the University of the Fraser Valley this fall.

UFV has launched a Graphic and Digital Design program at its Mission site, located in the Heritage Park Centre. It’s technically a re-launch, as the program has been on hiatus for a decade, but with all the changes in the design industry in that time, it’s like a brand-new program.

And thanks to a $500,000 contribution from the District of Mission, the program has four state-of-the-art dedicated classrooms and labs from which to run the program.

“We’re incredibly thankful for the financial support from the district,” said Karin Jager, who has been hired as the founding program head for the revitalized program.

“We’ve been able to develop sustainable labs based on industry standards.”

Students come in with their own Macbook Pro laptops complete with the Adobe Creative Suite, and UFV provides a working environment that models professional studios — students have access to the entire Adobe font library, a production studio with colour printing, giant Thunderbolt displays to hook their laptops up to, a photo studio, a drawing and painting studio, computer servers, and lab support.

“There is a huge learning curve with technology and software and the laptops enable unlimited access to tools. And they will serve the students well when they graduate and start their careers or continue their studies,” said Jager.

Jager, who has considerable experience in the field of graphic design education through her previous work at Capilano University and her role as  national vice president for education of  the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada (GDC), is excited about being in on the ground floor of developing a new program and curriculum. She also brings current practical experience to the job, through her own graphic design consultancy.

The two-year, 60-credit Graphic and Digital Design diploma provides students with a foundation of design skills, from which they will go on to learn about digital design for print and web. They study illustration, visual arts, interactive design, dynamic media (motion graphics and animation), and communication design.

“By the time the students graduate they will likely choose one or two of these areas to specialize in,” Jager notes. “They will be able to enter the industry in junior positions, or may choose to continue their education at the undergraduate degree level.”

They will be prepared to work for a company or organization as a junior graphic designer, or set themselves for freelance work in the creative industry.

Jager and her students are enjoying the warm welcome being extended by the Mission campus and community.

“We’ve been well-embraced here in Mission, and it is a beautiful campus and facility.”

A month into their studies, the students have completed two big projects in Jager’s courses: a digital wallpaper for screens where they explored elements and principles of design, and a second — a ‘zine’ about Fraser River Heritage Park where they learned about the design process. They are also taking visual arts and digital software courses from other instructors.

“I am very inspired by the students and the new GDD program,” says Jager. “Many different styles and approaches emerged from these two projects. The students are energetic and engaged, and each student sees things in a different way.”

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