International School of Art and Design

Graphic Design

Experiment with different ways to convey messages

It is simply the art of visualizing and communicating ideas-clearly, effectively, and if done well, memorably.

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Our graphic design students learn how to solve any visual communication problem through a creative, targeted, and effective design process. They also learn that good design doesn’t always result from knowing the right answers to give, but knowing the right questions to ask.

Students have ample opportunity to meet one-on-one with, not only your instructors, but your peers as well. You’ll have studio spaces linked together with other students, providing an experience that allows students to freely bounce ideas off of each other. It’s an atmosphere that allows for your creativity to be seen and heard. 


The graphic design labs at Finlandia are constructed in a way that mimics graphic design labs in the real world. Our labs, equipped with a full suite of Mac computers and drawing tables have an open environment, allowing for lots of team collaboration.

Today, most companies are shifting toward this open-styled layout for their graphic design studios, and FinnU wants to ensure that you’ll be able to collaborate with a team and be ready to work within such environments.



Our instructors bring all their professional experience directly from their studios or corporate work into the classroom, providing our students with a real-world, practical insight and focus. They also encourage you to see the world differently; to challenge cultural, social, and even visual, perceptions; to reach beyond your own life experiences and freely explore their undiscovered potential. Explore past your comfort zone. Taking classes like ceramic or fashion design may help you discover new interests and explore your strengths. 

“What I love about Finlandia is that no matter what your declared major is, art students are required to take courses that really help them explore other areas of art. This was huge for me. It helped me hone my design skills when I got to apply my ideas in a hands on way, from sculpting in ceramics classes, to screen printing in textile courses. I have been able to apply that knowledge to my industry and even put it into practice.”

Hayley Laban ('11)

"I knew what I wanted to do, but it was eye opening to see all of the opportunities, especially for such a small school. Once I progressed in my specialty, I was able to work very closely with my graphic design professor. Professors don’t always see the potential that students have, when they aren’t applying themselves fully, and take the extra time that they really need to push them outside of their comfort zones. At Finlandia I was able to get that."

Jessica Ingold ('13)

"What ultimately made me feel confident in choosing Finlandia was looking at the curriculum. When I was at Adrian College, the concentration in Graphic Design only offered three classes. Finlandia opened that category so much more with classes like Package Design, Critical Thinking, Typography, Environmental Design, etc. I felt like Finlandia had more to offer in that sense."

Haley Neri ('15)

Exploring the Graphic Design Degree with Professor Tom Adolphs


Graphic Design majors learn the latest industry-standard computer programs and how to use them on a professional level. But computers are only tools. A powerful concept is a designer’s greatest strength, and computers don’t create concepts. Generating ideas – lots of ideas – workable, effective ideas, is the foundation of good design and the backbone of the industry.

Check out Denia Bent ‘s (’20) full style guide by clicking the image above.

The Degree

Progress Sheet

The Classes

Course Descriptions


lia tervo brule scholarship art and design graphic design
Calumet grad, Lia Tervo, named 2020 Brule Scholarship recipient

September 03, 2020

Calumet graduate, Lia Tervo has been selected as the 2020 Brule Scholarship recipient by Finlandia University’s International School of Art & Design. The Brule Scholarship, funded by Dave and Elsa Brule, is a $20,000 competitive art scholarship for new students. Tervo plans to major in Graphic Design, which she hopes will lead to a flexible work-from-home career that will allow her to travel.

“My biggest goal in life is to travel the world someday so if I have a  […] Read More

2020 Bachelor of Fine Arts Diploma Works Exhibition

May 06, 2020

Exhibit Dates: October 22 to November 24, 2020 Reception: Thursday, October 22, 7:00 p.m.

Finlandia University Gallery has rescheduled the gallery exhibition for the 2020 Bachelor of Fine Arts Diploma Works Exhibition for October, 2020.

Finlandia University’s International School of Art & Design (ISAD) celebrates its seniors this week as they complete their Diploma Works Exhibition artwork.  Graduates Annah Smiddy, Chelsea LaPalme, Denia Bent, Mindy Aho and Shannon Chouinard faced many challenges as they completed their culminating artwork for graduation during the […] Read More

Graphic Design alumna
Distributing Design in the Lone Star State with Graphic Design Alumna Marina Dalton (’19)

February 21, 2020

Class of 2019 alumna Marina Dalton has been hard at work heading the design department at Great Plains Distributors, located in Lubbock, Texas. A San Francisco native, Dalton studied graphic design during her time at FinnU. She was a force to be reckoned with on the volleyball court; in her senior season, Dalton led the team in kills, hitting percentage and blocks and is among the top five in school history for kills and […] Read More


1. Communication/Creative Insight: Students demonstrate the vocabulary, grammar, and sense of context required to successfully
navigate and adapt to the changing demands within the profession of graphic design.
2. Analytic and Critical Thinking/Creative Insight: Students demonstrate an independent ability to seek out and discover the resources
required to make cross-platform connections that function to solve unforeseen design problems.
3. Communication: Students demonstrate a consistent awareness for the importance of collaboration and feedback within the design
4. Personal Perspective: Students demonstrate a passion for self-development through reflection and integration of peer feedback, as
well as a commitment to the need for continual exploration within the field of graphic design.
5. Global Perspective: Students demonstrate a keen awareness that the strongest design is ultimately for others, and hence, requires
that one see and explore beyond oneself.


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Faculty and Staff

Tom Adolphs

Assistant Professor, Graphic Design

Denise Vandeville

Dean, International School of Art & Design Associate Professor, Ceramic Design
Safe Open Plan Fall 2020Latest Updates
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