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)


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.

The Degree

Progress Sheet

The Classes

Course Descriptions


Digital Artist Ashlee Kranz (’16) talks freelancing as a career on Leading the Pride

June 5, 2019

Leading the Pride continues in the month of June by talking with Digital Arts and Animation major, Ashlee Kranz (’16). Kranz is a freelance digital and graphic artist at her own company, Dream Chaser Studios in Goodman, WI. She has recently been involved with the movie series, Northbound, which is filmed in the UP. Listen to more of her story here.

Owner of This is Folklore Hat Co. John Fish (’10) featured on Leading the Pride

April 3, 2019

Leading the Pride continues this month by talking with International School of Art and Design alumnus, John Fish (’10). Fish, originally from Iron River, MI, came to Finlandia as a graphic design major to learn how to apply graphics to skateboards. During his time at Finlandia, he spent a large amount of time in the fiber studio and wood shop because he enjoyed building and working with his hands. Listen to his story here.

Levi Grannis and Hannah Scott-Moore
Senior art students Levi Grannis and Hannah Scott-Moore discuss upcoming Diploma Works Exhibition

April 20, 2018

Levi Grannis and Hannah Scott-Moore dropped by Finlandia Fridays this week to talk about the annual Diploma Works Exhibition. Both students are graduating from the International School for Art + Design (ISAD). The exhibition highlights work from the graduating class. This year 10 seniors will have work on display. Read more here.


  • Communication: Communicate of the Elements & Principles of Design within selected medium.
  • Analytical and Critical Thinking/Creative Insight: Integrate knowledge of basic business practices as they relate to entrepreneurial ventures, exhibition opportunities, and professional presentation & portfolio development.
  • Analytical and Critical Thinking/Global Perspective: Resource the relevance of history, theory, and criticism, using perspectives and scholarship drawn from the students’ major field and at least one other field.
  • Personal Perspective/Global Perspective: Measure decisions involving social, environmental, and ethical issues concerning the production and consumption of Art & Design.
  • Creative Insight:  Assess the possibilities and limitations of materials and processes, including the potential and current uses of existing and developing materials, technologies, and production methods.
  • Personal Perspective:  Support an attitude of curiosity, determination, and reflection that will persist beyond graduation.


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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
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