Graphic arts department brings imagination to life


The definition of graphic design, according to dictionary.com, states: “The art or profession of using design elements (as typography and images) to convey information or create an effect.”

The act of being a graphic designer, however, can’t be explained with such a straightforward definition. Designers, students in this case, watch ideas come to life in more ways than with just a pen and paper.

The Graphic Arts Department offers students a way to learn information they need to know while at the same time offering real-world experiences and projects.

Approximately 15 years ago, the Graphic Arts Department came into existence, according to Professor Melanie Marshall.

“We do all kinds of graphic arts. We do things from silk screening to creating banners, websites, books and do a lot of stuff in the community to help the community out. Just wherever we’re needed,” said Marshall. “What’s really important about doing that is that the students get real world projects and are able to do things that are set by another person so they have timelines and they have requirements that they have to meet.”

Students have done work for the Stockton Animal Shelter, Micke Grove Zoo, Stockton is Magnificent and the College Square Shopping Center.

They’ve also designed pins for Delta College and posters for the dance department.

Michael Oliva is an adjunct instructor and instructional support assistant for the department.

“If you want to work as a graphic artist, you have to know all the programs that we teach here. It’s the adobe line of software applications. Everything we teach you here, you can use to to start a portfolio. People look at your portfolio, your body of work. I’ve been a professional artist for 40 years. I’ve never once been asked for a degree…they want to see my artwork.”

Oliva has worked for Disney and currently maintains two sites: olivagrapix.com and smartprojectstockton.com.

Students in the program use the Adobe line of software applications, as Oliva stated earlier.

The programs include Adobe Photoshop which is digital imaging, QuarkXPress which is page layout, Adobe Illustrator which is computer art, DreamWeaver which is web design and Adobe InDesign which is publication design.

“It’s a very good program, it teaches students how to use Adobe illustrator and Adobe products in general. It teaches you about typography and the whole process of creating advertisements and layouts. It’s a really good class, it teaches you all the fundamentals and it prepares you for what’s to come for this type of job,” said Alicia Rivera, a student in the program. “I would definitely recommend it because not only is this for people who love graphic arts, it also helps people who are in businesses understand ‘this is what makes a good logo’.”

According to Marshall, the classes just finished up two big projects.

One of the projects was a logo for California Community Colleges and the other was a poster for the candidate forums that took place on Oct. 13-14.

“It’s been good. It [the program] has been pushing me to learn the details of all the software and different tools and whatnot. It’s giving me a thorough learning of everything,” said Steven Mendoza, a student in the program.

For students who want to pursue a career in this line of work, two options are available: an Associate of Arts Degree in Graphic Arts and a Graphic Arts Certificate of Achievement.

According to the Graphic Arts pamphlet, students who complete these certificates will demonstrate skills, knowledge and training for entry-level employment in the field of graphic design, or transfer to a four-year college.

Sascha Perry, one of Marshall’s former students, received a job while still in the program.

“I work for a company called Powertank. I work part time as an in-house graphic designer. I get to work on my own time, it’s pretty cool,” she said.