Graphic Design for Marketing

Graphic designers (also known as visual communication designers or marketing communication designers) function as creative problem solvers, design planners and strategists, as well as skilled communicators and technologists. They demonstrate a passion for design and creativity, high-level design and critical thinking skills, a solid understanding of business and marketing, well-developed research capabilities, and a broad-based understanding of the social, cultural, and environmental implications of design. They are team players, team leaders, and can be employees, freelancers, or self-employed entrepreneurs.

Today, the visual communications field is broader than ever before, providing graphic designers with wide-ranging career opportunities. Graphic designers may create such things as visual identities for corporations, marketing campaigns for businesses, fundraising campaigns for non-profit organizations, layouts for publications, promotional posters, websites and interactive applications, shopping mall way-finding systems, packaging for all manner of products, advertising campaigns, signage in museums, retail displays, user-oriented marketing communications, and more.

Who Studies Graphic Design for Marketing?

GDMA applicants come from diverse backgrounds and demonstrate a keen interest in design, particularly visual communications. They will have explored various aspects of art and design through such things as drawing and illustration, typography, photography, computer-based projects, video production, painting and sculpture, or perhaps through different types of crafts.  Some applicants may also have communications, marketing, public relations, or business-related experience.

Applicants may come directly from high school, or transfer from other post-secondary institutions, or they may already hold a degree from a non-design field. They may also be mature individuals who want to make a career change, or they may have experience in the graphic design industry and want to upgrade their credentials.

It is strongly recommended that applicants have solid English language communication skills, some computer and word processing experience, basic mathematics, an awareness of the graphic design profession and its significance locally and nationally, as well as an understanding of how graphic design and marketing fit together.

Department's website: kpu.ca/gdma

The field of visual communications design is fast-paced, exciting, continually changing and expanding, and today, it is broader-based than ever before.  The GDMA degree program prepares graduates for a wide range of entry-level graphic design positions.

Generalist Graphic Designers

GDMA degree graduates will qualify for entry-level positions as graphic designers in firms providing corporations, small businesses, non-profit organizations, and others with services that may include such things as the creation of marketing strategies, interactive media design, publication design, advertising design, direct marketing design, and display design. Understanding consumer behaviour and end-user needs will also qualify the graduate for employment in marketing, advertising, or public relations firms that offer graphic design as one of their services.

Specialist Graphic Designers

Throughout the curriculum, GDMA students are exposed to a range of specialty areas within the graphic design industry.  Professional graphic designers might choose to specialize in such things as marketing communications strategies, interactive design, packaging design, advertising design, display design, or the design of integrated media.

In-House (Resident) Graphic Designers

The diverse skills acquired by graduates of the GDMA program will equip them to work as in-house graphic designers in large corporations or institutions with their own marketing communications departments.

Self-Employed, Freelance or Entrepreneurial Graphic Designers

The GDMA graduate will have a solid understanding of the graphic design industry and marketplace through field studies and a mentorship, as well as business and marketing courses. They will have prepared a comprehensive portfolio along with self-promotional materials and marketing that will help them to effectively market their services to various types of clients.

Registration in some course sections is restricted to students in particular programs. See Timetables - kpu.ca/registration/timetables - for current section information.

Visit the BC Transfer Guide - bctransferguide.ca - for information about course transfer in B.C.

GDMA 1100  3 credits  
Typographic Design I  

Students will learn the fundamentals of type and text while designing basic print and digital communications that require typographic design solutions. They will select and apply typefaces to targeted messaging that combines measurement systems and typographic hierarchies with page layout, grid and image.

Level: UG

Co-requisite(s): GDMA 1110 and GDMA 1121

Attribute: DESN

GDMA 1110  3 credits  
Image Development  

Students apply design processes to develop concepts and images for basic marketing communications. They will learn and apply the elements and principles of design and colour theory, as well as develop basic technical and production skills. Through creating abstract, symbolic, and representational images, students will visually communicate ideas and emotions using a variety of mediums.

Level: UG

Co-requisite(s): GDMA 1100 and GDMA 1121

Attribute: DESN

GDMA 1121  3 credits  
Graphic Design Software Applications 1  

Students will focus on developing technical skills using industry-standard software. Drawing on complementary courses in typography and image-making, students will learn how to generate, manipulate, and prepare graphic, typographic, photographic and illustrative images for graphic design projects. They will use systems for colour reproduction, typesetting, grid and document layout; file preparation and preflight; and digital asset management.

Level: UG

Co-requisite(s): All of GDMA 1100 and 1110

Attribute: DESN

GDMA 1140  3 credits  
Graphic Design and Society I  

Students will explore the social, cultural, and historical contexts of graphic design from the Renaissance to the end of World War I. By applying various research methods, students build their knowledge of the major movements that caused and catalyzed the emergence of graphic design practices.

Level: UG

Attribute: DESN

GDMA 1200  3 credits  
Typographic Design 2  

Students apply the fundamentals of typography and typographic theory (including typeface anatomy, classification, measurement systems, etc.) while creating typographic layouts for print and digital communication. They will enhance their skills with typeface pairing, typographic hierarchies, and fine typesetting. Students will generate design concepts by applying typographic communication research for marketing and promotion.

Level: UG

Prerequisite(s): GDMA 1100

Co-requisite(s): GDMA 1215 and GDMA 1220

Attribute: DESN

GDMA 1215  3 credits  
Concept Development  

Students will synthesize their knowledge of typography, image development and software skills into a cohesive approach to concept development for graphic design challenges. Students will gain confidence generating original ideas and translating them to the page, while understanding key differences between drawing inspiration from, versus copying from, other artists and designers. They will develop their curiosity, imagination, and risk-taking while combining graphic design skills with strategic thinking and messaging.

Level: UG

Prerequisite(s): GDMA 1110

Co-requisite(s): GDMA 1200 and GDMA 1220

Attribute: DESN

GDMA 1220  3 credits  
Graphic Design Software Applications 2  

Students design and produce layouts using industry-standard software. Building on previous work, students will refine their technical skills to produce graphic design solutions for creative briefs. They will integrate simple messaging into design concepts, and focus on developing production-ready visual assets for print and digital applications.

Level: UG

Prerequisite(s): GDMA 1121

Co-requisite(s): GDMA 1200 and GDMA 1215

Attribute: DESN

GDMA 1240  3 credits  
Graphic Design and Society 2  

Students examine diverse forms of graphic communication design and other related types of design that emerged globally from the 1920s onward. They will apply various analytical frameworks to consider historical and emerging ideas and theories relating to the design and communication of information, human interactions with design, and design's social, cultural, and economic significance.

Level: UG

Attributes: ASTR, DESN

GDMA 2100  3 credits  
Editorial Design 1  

Students design and produce editorial layouts to attract and engage a target audience and to organize and enrich the content of print and digital publications. They work with the key components of editorial design including typography, photography, illustration, page formats and grids, while developing their own art directorial voice.

Level: UG

Prerequisite(s): GDMA 1200

Co-requisite(s): GDMA 2110 and GDMA 2120

Attributes: ASTR, DESN

GDMA 2110  3 credits  
Introduction to Advertising Design  

Students will explore client and end-user needs and analyze market research data. They plan, conceptualize, design and produce advertising to promote products or services, raise public awareness, or communicate information in order to engage with specific target audiences.

Level: UG

Prerequisite(s): All of (a) GDMA 1215 and (b) MRKT 1199

Co-requisite(s): GDMA 2100 and GDMA 2120

Attribute: DESN

GDMA 2120  3 credits  
Print Technologies  

Students prepare electronic files and write specifications for mechanical, photomechanical and electronic prepress, print production and print finishing processes. Students also specify ink, paper, colour and other elements of a printed communication, and learn how proofing systems and other quality control procedures are used in the printing industry.

Level: UG

Prerequisite(s): GDMA 1220

Co-requisite(s): GDMA 2100 and GDMA 2110

Attribute: DESN

GDMA 2140  3 credits  
Communication Design and Popular Culture  

Students research and analyze contemporary visual communication and popular culture through the lens of design, marketing and cultural studies. Critically reviewing the design of diverse media (film, music, gaming, social media, comics, sports, etc.), students will apply personal interests and their knowledge of contemporary cultural phenomena and develop style and voice in their writing.

Level: UG

Prerequisite(s): All of (a) GDMA 1240 and (b) ENGL 1100

Attributes: ASTR, DESN

GDMA 2200  3 credits  
Editorial Design 2  

Students research social, cultural, and historical factors and apply fundamentals associated with the design, production and distribution of print and online publications. They identify market opportunities, develop concepts, and produce comprehensive designs for print and digital publications.

Level: UG

Prerequisite(s): GDMA 2100 and GDMA 2120

Co-requisite(s): All of GDMA 2210, GDMA 2222 and GDMA 2230

Attribute: DESN

GDMA 2210  3 credits  
Web Design  

Students focus on design, content, and communications strategies for website design. Students apply critical analysis and problem-solving to create cohesive marketing communications experiences for target users using text, image, motion, and interactivity. Current aproaches to technologies, templates, and content management systems are introduced.

Level: UG

Prerequisite(s): GDMA 1220

Co-requisite(s): All of GDMA 2200, GDMA 2222 and GDMA 2230

Attribute: DESN

GDMA 2222  3 credits  
Video and Animation  

Students will use current industry-standard software to create short animations and videos that integrate image, text, sound, motion, and time. They will design and produce promotional and creative videos for diverse audiences, with a focus on storytelling techniques for motion design.

Level: UG

Prerequisite(s): GDMA 1220

Co-requisite(s): All of GDMA 2200, GDMA 2210 and GDMA 2230

Attribute: DESN

GDMA 2230  3 credits  
Introduction to Marketing Communications  

Students will develop marketing plans and formulate concepts and images that communicate messages to specific target audiences. They will design marketing communications for placement across multiple media channels and focus on the effective use of copy, typography, photography and illustrations to convey marketing messages.

Level: UG

Prerequisite(s): GDMA 2110

Co-requisite(s): All of GDMA 2200, GDMA 2210 and GDMA 2222

Attribute: DESN

GDMA 3100  3 credits  
Information Design  

Students will research, analyze, organize, and integrate informational hierarchies into design systems that respond to specific audience needs while incorporating contextual, spatial, narrative and navigational requirements. They will conceptualize, design, and produce visual representations of qualitative and quantitative information (i.e. ‘infographics’ and/or data visualizations) to make multi-layered information or complex data more accessible, understandable, and engaging to a viewer.

Level: UG

Prerequisite(s): Either (a) GDMA 2200 or (b) 60 credits from courses at the 1100 level or higher and permission of the instructor

Attributes: DESN, QUAN

GDMA 3110  3 credits  
UI/UX Design 1  

Students will learn the concepts and methods required to design interactive communications such as websites and mobile apps. They will employ user research, client journey maps, wireframes, flowcharts, site maps and prototypes. They will plan and create the information architecture, user experience, and user interface design required for digital interfaces that deliver desirable experiences for users.

Level: UG

Prerequisite(s): GDMA 2210

Co-requisite(s): GDMA 3122 and GDMA 3130

Attribute: DESN

GDMA 3122  3 credits  
Interactive Technologies: Design and Development  

Students are introduced to the methods and technologies used for interactive design and development. Coding languages and technologies, and their capabilities, are covered to provide insight and understanding on how screen-based design solutions are developed and brought to market. The function and features of industry standard software applications are reviewed and explored. Course focus is given to the principles and workflows related to current interactive design and development.

Level: UG

Prerequisite(s): GDMA 2210 and GDMA 2222

Co-requisite(s): GDMA 3110 and GDMA 3130

Attribute: DESN

GDMA 3130  3 credits  
Marketing Communications Design 1  

Students analyze and interpret a client's marketing objectives and formulate concepts, messages and images for integrated marketing communications plans across multiple media channels. Students connect strategy to outcome through comprehensive target market research, marketing metrics, and polished marketing communications pitches.

Level: UG

Prerequisite(s): GDMA 2230

Co-requisite(s): GDMA 3110 and GDMA 3122

Attribute: DESN

GDMA 3140  3 credits  
Interactive Technologies and Society  

Students critically analyze the social and cultural impact of interactive technologies. They examine theories relating to interactivity, human factors, and user-centred design, and apply design research methods to analyses of various types of interactivity. Students will respond to a design problem by developing concepts for a range of interactive experiences to suit a particular social context and target audience, and present and rationalize their design ideas.

Level: UG

Prerequisite(s): GDMA 2140

Attribute: DESN

GDMA 3200  3 credits  
Branding 1  

Students explore the idea of branding from the perspective of developing, monitoring and managing brand from an in-house perspective. They will conduct in-depth research to learn how the brand is expressed, and what methods are used to connect with target audiences. With a clear understanding of an organization’s context, offering, and challenges, students will apply their marketing communications design skills to creating an integrated campaign in support of a specific brand.

Level: UG

Prerequisite(s): GDMA 3130

Co-requisite(s): All of GDMA 3210, GDMA 3220, GDMA 3225 and GDMA 3230

Attribute: DESN

GDMA 3210  3 credits  
Packaging Design  

Students learn principles and strategies to design packaging that meets client and consumer needs. They will learn to work with regulatory requirements, environmental factors, and client marketing objectives and budgets while creating three-dimensional prototypes for pitch presentations.

Level: UG

Prerequisite(s): GDMA 3100

Co-requisite(s): All of GDMA 3200, GDMA 3220, GDMA 3225 and GDMA 3230

Attribute: DESN

GDMA 3220  3 credits  
UI/UX Design 2  

Students will research, strategize, conceive, develop content, design and produce a screen-based project for a specific audience. They will create an interactive user experience to meet specified marketing communication outcomes. They will learn strategies for meeting business, marketing, and communication goals; allocating resources; evaluating elements of user experience and user interface; and applying interactive and web-based design processes to deliver prototypes, templates, and/or style guides.

Level: UG

Prerequisite(s): GDMA 3110 and GDMA 3122

Co-requisite(s): All of GDMA 3200, GDMA 3210, GDMA 3225 and GDMA 3230

Attribute: DESN

GDMA 3225  3 credits  
Typographic Design 3  

Students will further develop their typographic skills using advanced techniques and work flows across print and digital projects. They will focus on refining their Adobe InDesign knowledge, and on integrating complex hierarchies, content meaning, structure, and type selection into longform and multi-page design documents. Students will combine aesthetic principles, including type, image, and interactivity into their finished design projects, while understanding how typography connects strongly to concept, target audience, and brand voice.

Level: UG

Prerequisite(s): GDMA 3100

Co-requisite(s): All of GDMA 3200, GDMA 3210, GDMA 3220 and GDMA 3230

Attribute: DESN

GDMA 3230  3 credits  
Marketing Communications Design 2  

Students analyze and interpret corporate strategies in business-to-business marketing plans. They create communication and design strategies to support marketing plans, and design marketing communications solutions using digital and print media. Students integrate messaging and storytelling into industry-ready pitch presentations.

Level: UG

Prerequisite(s): GDMA 3130

Co-requisite(s): All of GDMA 3200, GDMA 3210, GDMA 3220 and GDMA 3225

Attribute: DESN

GDMA 4100  3 credits  
Branding 2  

Students will focus on creating a brand by formulating brand positioning and designing a brand visual identity. Through research, critical analysis, and design thinking students identify, position, design, and develop brand communications. Students focus on the strategic and tactical opportunities that can be leveraged to maximize the utility and effectiveness of brand assets to support business and marketing objectives.

Level: UG

Prerequisite(s): GDMA 3200

Co-requisite(s): GDMA 4120 and GDMA 4130

Attribute: DESN

GDMA 4120  3 credits  
Capstone Project  

Students will demonstrate their ability to synthesize and apply the skills and knowledge learned throughout the Graphic Design for Marketing program to a major design project identifying a proposed client. They will outline research methods and processes to be implemented, and will articulate and rationalize their design and communication strategies. Students will complete a major project incorporating the design and presentation of a significant and substantial body of work.

Level: UG

Prerequisite(s): All of GDMA 3200, GDMA 3220, GDMA 3225 and GDMA 3230

Co-requisite(s): GDMA 4100 and GDMA 4130

Attribute: DESN

GDMA 4130  3 credits  
Small Business Essentials  

Students will learn fundamental business procedures relevant to working as employees, employers, or freelancers in the graphic design profession, including the design of targeted self-promotional materials for industry engagement. They will estimate costs and formulate pricing strategies, prepare proposals, budgets, and schedules, and create components used in the day-to-day management of a design practice.

Level: UG

Prerequisite(s): GDMA 3200 and GDMA 3230

Co-requisite(s): GDMA 4100 and GDMA 4120

Attribute: DESN

GDMA 4200  3 credits  
Advertising Design  

Students will work collaboratively to create advertising campaigns to be implemented across communication channels including print, digital and social media, sales promotions, events, and direct marketing. They will evaluate target audience data to develop concepts and design solutions for a variety of media-based marketing plans and strategies. Students will use project management and stakeholder communications skills to navigate complex timelines and approvals for multiple design deliverables.

Level: UG

Prerequisite(s): Both (a) GDMA 4100 and (b) MRKT 3000 or MRKT 4177

Co-requisite(s): GDMA 4221 and GDMA 4230

Attribute: DESN

GDMA 4216  3 credits  
Advanced Typographic Communications  

Students will employ advanced typographic methods and techniques to strategize, conceptualize, design, and produce refined interconnected systems of typographic communications for a variety of purposes. They will focus on requirements such as client and end-user needs, strategic positioning, content meaning and structure, information hierarchy, technical and aesthetic development, and typographic form, selection, and composition.

Level: UG

Prerequisite(s): All of (a) GDMA 4100, (b) GDMA 4120, (c) GDMA 4130, and (d) MRKT 4177 or MRKT 4201

Co-requisite(s): All of GDMA 4200, 4221, 4230 and 4240

Attribute: DESN

GDMA 4221  3 credits  
Strategic Portfolio Development  

Students demonstrate proficiency in marketing communications design through rigorous refinement of previous project work that reflects their preferred areas of professional practice. They create a personal marketing strategy that is represented through research and the design, production, documentation, presentation and defense of a comprehensive portfolio of work.

Level: UG

Prerequisite(s): GDMA 4120

Co-requisite(s): GDMA 4200 and GDMA 4230

Attribute: DESN

GDMA 4222  3 credits  
Special Topics in Interactive Technologies  

Students will engage in the study of a particular issue or technological application in the discipline of interactive technologies. They will critically analyze the topic from a broad variety of perspectives, and articulate understanding through both designed and written outcomes. The Special Topics container allows for agility in an adaptive field: topics address emerging issues, recently identified skills, knowledge, and/or attitudes and behaviours relevant to design and technology.Note: This course may be taken only once.

Level: UG

Prerequisite(s): Either (a) GDMA 3220 or (b) permission of the instructor

Attribute: DESN

GDMA 4230  3 credits  
Mentorship for Professional Practice  

Students will research and analyze procedures, practices, and issues relevant to gaining employment and working in the graphic design profession. They will prepare an employment search plan, gain industry experience and report on a mentorship placement in a professional advertising, design or marketing environment.

Level: UG

Prerequisite(s): All of GDMA 4100, GDMA 4120 and GDMA 4130

Co-requisite(s): GDMA 4200 and GDMA 4221

Attribute: DESN

GDMA 4240  3 credits  
Contemporary Issues in Graphic Design  

Students will develop a critical awareness of social, cultural, philosophical, environmental, technological, and professional issues that impact contemporary graphic design practice. They will actively discuss and engage in multifaceted research and analysis. Students will consider the ethical gray areas surrounding key issues and the spaces in which emerging designers can contribute to the future of graphic design practice.

Level: UG

Prerequisite(s): Either (a) GDMA 3140 or (b) 60 credits at the 1100 level or higher, including ENGL 1100

Attribute: DESN

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