Using the exhibition Graphic Design: Now in Production as its subject, the Walker Art Center created a seminar course for graphic design majors from the College of Visual Arts in St. Paul, the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, and the University of Minnesota’s College of Design to investigate the themes and ideas of the show. The installation explores the ways that graphic design is being made, produced, and distributed today with a particular emphasis on how designers are becoming authors and publishers of media, instigators of/researchers on problems of their own choosing, and business entrepreneurs creating new products. The exhibition includes sections on posters, magazines, books, typography, information design, branding, and motion graphics—representing a diverse range of genres within an expansive field of practice. The Designer as Producer course included a mix of lectures, discussions, and off-campus activities and was held each Thursday night during the fall 2011 semester. As part of their coursework, students were asked to contribute four pages to a book, with subject matter determined by the content on a randomly selected press sheet from the exhibition catalogue. When the book was completed, everyone involved received a copy through the print-on-demand service Lulu.com.
Students visited the Walker galleries while the show was being set up and also attended a catalogue press check at Shapco Printing in Minneapolis in order to gain exposure to installation and production processes. Other sessions included studio visits with Nicole Dotin and Eric Olson of Process Type Foundry in Golden Valley and Laurie de Martino and Charles S. Anderson of Minneapolis, each of whom is featured in the exhibition. The course concluded with a public presentation by British designer Anthony Burrill. The instructors for the course were Walker Art Center staff Andrew Blauvelt, curator of architecture and design; Emmet Byrne, design director; and Michael Aberman, graphic designer. The instructors would like to thank Sarah Schultz, Susy Bielak, and Ashley Duffalo of the Walker’s education and community programs department, all of the members of the Walker’s design/editorial/photography department, and the graphic design faculty at each of the participating schools for their help in organizing this initiative. A jointly offered course with local area schools would not have been possible without executive leadership support for the project by Ann Ledy at the College of Visual Arts, Jay Coogan at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, and Tom Fisher at the College of Design at the University of Minnesota.Lastly, the course would not have been possible without the students, whom we thank for their participation.