Design Department Missions and Outcomes | Minneapolis College of Art and Design

Design Department Missions and Outcomes

The Design Department at MCAD provides a rigorous learning experience that challenges, inspires, and educates students majoring in comic art, graphic design, and illustration.

Innovative creative thinking and form-making are equally nurtured within all programs through a robust studio practice, cross-disciplinary curricula, and a productive engagement with both traditional and emerging technologies. Professional development opportunities such as visiting artist and designer programs, mandatory internships, external partnered projects, and supplemental work-shops expose students to both disciplines and a variety of professional practices. Students also experience contemporary methodologies, techniques, and technologies. Near completion of their degree requirements, Design Department majors are assisted in launching their career, whether it be searching for employment or pursuit of further studies at the graduate level.

Comic Art

MCAD's comic art major teaches students how to identify and approach sequential narrative opportunities and problems, to find creative and responsive solutions, and execute those resolutions with precision and flair.

  • Holistic perspective: Generate a balanced knowledge in the humanities within and without the sequential art field, to use the potential of comics to disseminate a wide range of information, and to connect and communicate to a global audiences’ needs and viewpoints.
  • Discipline-specific contextual knowledge and skills: The structure to research a wide scope of historic and contemporary comic art artistic genres, and to formulating original and individual creativity and expression. Identify, evaluate and define discussions beyond the traditional comic art models on the use of diverse and non-traditional media and content to develop innovative approaches in sequential art. To use knowledge gained to develop and demonstrate professional-level visual and verbal ideas, problem solving, content and proposals.
  • Verbal skills: Demonstrate the ability to clearly present, define, discuss one’s work and to constructively evaluate, interpret and critique one’s own work, classmates work, and contemporary and historic work within comic arts.
  • Writing skills: Construct and write coherent academic and business documents necessary to successful academic development and a future professional career.
  • Production skills: Professional self-direction and disciplined studio work with the technical ability to professionally translate ideas. Hands on ability covering the full range of comic art, craft, conceptual, formal, aesthetic skills. These skill sets include: Fluid use of sequential language and concepts, use of good process work prior to final project, draftsmanship, sequencing comic page and penciling, inking and finished illustrations, coloring, lettering, and traditional craft, contemporary craft, digital formats. With the ability to handling a variety of pre-production and (re)production techniques.
  • Professional readiness: Knowledge of professional practicum and ethics, understanding of both culture and market, specific and related professional environments, career paths and options, best business practices, and ethics.

Graphic Design

MCAD’s graphic design major produces designers who creatively investigate and engage with innovative problems, concepts, content, and form. We promote curiosity, process, 'making' and encourage students to develop a voice to produce original work. We produce graduates that are active practitioners and leaders within local, national, and international design communities.

  • Design: Students have the skills to give form to any idea by using and authoring a dynamic blend of visual imagery and textual content.
  • Design Thought: Students utilize a rigorous design process to promote experimental, conceptual and systems thinking through critical inquiry.
  • Communication: Students can articulate one’s conceptual and formal decisions through developed writing skills and visual presentation models.
  • Context: Students know that innovative solutions and design practices are informed by cultural and social trends.
  • Implementation: Students are proficient in mechanical production and have the ability to adapt to new digital landscapes with emphasis on pushing the unique possibilities that exist for each.
  • Practice: Create best practice experiences that provide the skills to implement contributions individually as well as in collaboration with creative teams, service providers, and support staff.


MCAD illustrators are makers, thinkers, designers, and artists. MCAD illustration students are passionate about sketchbooks and painting as well as fluent in current technology. Traditional media, digital-knowledge and conceptual thinking are the building blocks of the illustration experience at MCAD.

  • Apply a strong design practice from research boards, thumbnail sketches, and refined sketches to final art.
  • Use diverse materials and media and identify their unique possibilities.
  • Interpret storytelling as well as the ability to formulate themes and concepts into pattern and surface design.
  • Demonstrate an awareness of professional ethics and practices.
  • Generate an original and individual voice presented in a portfolio, website, and gallery space.
  • Create illustrations for a variety of audiences: surface design, editorial, advertising, book, corporate, and gallery exhibition.
  • Solve creative problems for print and digital formats.