RCCC offering new graphic design degree

SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - Due to the rapid growth of graphic design, there are tremendous opportunities in corporate design departments, advertising agencies, design firms, newspapers, and magazines. These industries are looking for talented, skilled designers who can develop advertising ideas and produce graphic solutions that will sell a client's products or services.

Rowan-Cabarrus Community College is excited to introduce a new in-depth, two-year professional preparation program that leads to an Associate in Applied Science degree in Advertising and Graphic Design. Offered at the Rowan-Cabarrus South Campus, this program will serve several populations of students with different career goals.

For instance, graduates of the Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Advertising and Graphic Design will be prepared to immediately enter the freelance job market.

"Students will learn to design advertising and corporate communications of all types – newspaper and magazine ads, brochures, booklets, company logos and letterheads, product packaging, posters, outdoor billboards, and much more," said Jenn Selby, program chair of the Department of Fine and Applied Arts at Rowan-Cabarrus. "This thorough course of study and practice covers a wide range of skills including illustration, design principles, computer design, typography, drawing, photography, and more. Students will also have the opportunity to take work-based learning (internship) courses as part of the degree program."

Students can also use this program to compliment the College's Associate in Fine Arts (AFA) degree program that began in 2009. The Rowan-Cabarrus AFA program is designed for students who plan to transfer to a four-year fine arts program. The AFA program is also suitable for students who want to focus on their personal creative development, expand their portfolios or work in related creative industries.

The College is working on articulation agreements with several four-year colleges that would allow students interested in transferring to a four-year college to achieve a bachelor's in fine arts specializing in graphic design to do so with the College's new A.A.S. in Advertising and Graphic Design.

"When you complete the program you'll have a professional-quality portfolio filled with your best work. It will demonstrate to potential employers your design skills, your understanding of the advertising and graphic design marketplace, and your ability to work successfully in it," said Selby.

Additionally, the degree program – or the shorter 12-credit certificate program – is perfect for a small business owner interested in creating their graphic design work in-house or improving the designs they currently do on their own.

"Small businesses often don't have the resources to hire a full-time graphic designer to produce their marketing materials. The certificate option gives them the opportunity to help train one of their current employees to produce professional-looking external publications," continued Selby.

The coursework could also apply to a seasoned professional looking to take their media publication skills to the next level with the latest industry standards.

"We are proud that our fine and applied arts offerings have grown so much and Rowan-Cabarrus can be an important part of the robust creative community in our area," said Dr. Carol S. Spalding, president of Rowan-Cabarrus.

To prepare for this new program, the College has pulled together an impressive group of advisory committee members to shape the curriculum and the direction of the industry-driven program. Advisory committee includes members such as Chris Cassidy, Associate Professor of Design at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro; David Brodeur, Associate Professor of Art & Graphic Design Area Coordinator at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte; Jerod Jacobs, owner of SixFootKitten; Mandi Boedicker, owner and graphic designer for DryInk Designs; and Phil Hardin, retired Executive Director of Technology for Rowan-Salisbury School System.

The North Carolina Community College System has approved the College offering this program and its program of study. Spring 2015 is the projected start of the program, but if accreditation approval comes in early, the College could possibly offer a condensed eight-week class this fall. Demand for the program is high with a group of eager students awaiting classes to begin.

The College is also offering new music and drama specializations within the AFA program. Everything from chorus classes to the History of Rock Music to Stage Movement I will be available. Additionally the program has developed an Introduction to Jazz class.

"When the Associate in Fine Arts degree first started, the primary focus was on the visual arts, but the College is working toward expanding the degree program to better include the performing arts," said Selby. "Introducing the Advertising and Graphic Design program really allows the College to prepare students not just in the visual arts started in 2009, but now in the applied arts. It's really strengthening both our applied science programs and our fine arts program. By offering the two programs alongside each other the College is presenting a hybrid model to higher education in the arts – by emphasizing collaboration and interdisciplinary cooperation the department of fine and applied arts seeks to be a regional leader in preparing graduates to enter the creative industries."

The program will use cutting-edge design technology such as Adobe's Creative Cloud. With Adobe Photoshop students will learn how to digitally correct and enhance photos, make precise selections, and effectively use layers in this detailed photo editing program. Students will also learn how to build impressive page layouts in Adobe InDesign by setting up master pages and frames, and by importing and manipulating text and graphics. In Adobe Illustrator, students will work with various graphic objects by creating and arranging shapes, drawing with the pen tool, using brushes and type as art, and more.

Anyone with an interest in the fine and applied arts should inquire. Previous experience is not a requirement. Questions should be directed to Program Chair Jenn Selby (jenn.selby@rccc.edu or 704-216-3820).

For more information about Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, please visit www.rccc.edu/finearts or call 704-216-RCCC (7222).