Cranbrook for Graphic Design

I’ve been reading with interest the recent threads about Cranbrook’s 3D Design program. I’m actually thinking about applying to the Graphic Design program, which they call 2D. I’ve looked at the department web site and done some research into alumni of the program and am quite impressed so far. Can anyone here tell me more? Are there any current or recent students on this board?

As a current 3d student I chose to take an elective in the 2d department just becuase of the head Elliot Earls. It also considered one of the best departments at Cranbrook if not the best…

Thanks, Frank. Can you tell me a bit more about the program and why it’s considered so good? Also, what’s an elective at a school without classes? What did you learn? How?

There was an article about the 2D Design department in the Italian magazine Sugo a couple of years ago. It went into the department’s philosophy, the kinds of students who go there, and what the work looks like. Maybe you can find the back issue online somehow.

Okie, I found the back issue for you in PDF form:

Let me know what you think.

hold up, the head of the department is a performance artist???

someone plz explain to me what that has to do with graphic design!

im confused.

Cookie cutters are so pragmatic.

I don’t know about cookie cutters, but I just found some info on the latest thesis show here:

Pragmatic? I don’t think so.

I’m very interested in Cranbrook’s program, philosophy, and the people there. I’m thinking about applying next year and have started putting together my portfolio. Trouble is, I don’t have an undergrad degree in graphic design. Will that hurt my chances of getting in? Can anyone here tell me what the school will be looking for in an application? What kinds of applicants tend to get accepted? What can I do in the next six months to strengthen my portfolio?

To get into the department, your portfolio has to be off the wall and your personality has to be very dynamic.

Basically they don’t want any cookie cutters they want people that are going to bring a piece to the table that will add dialogue and innovation to the program.

I don’t know if this will help, but I had a professor explain the difference between art and design as: art is the ‘pure research’ and design is the ‘applications’.
Without re-starting the art vs. design debate, as designers we attempt to make solutions to peoples problems. What Cranbrook will be looking for is the ‘laboratory research’ ideas of possibilities that don’t neccessarily answer a question…yet.
think of yourself as the aesthetic version of a chemist who’s rearrainging of molecules in the lab has no purpose other than it’s possible and things like: producable, profitable, product etc are of no concern…yet.

Thank you for the tips. No spec, your advice is quite reassuring, as I don’t yet have a clear sense of what I’m doing, just a lot of random experimentation. What is an off-the-wall portfolio? Weird, not just good? Different? And what do you mean by a dynamic personality? I can’t exactly change who I am, though I’m definitely trying to grow and become a better person.

As a person who has BFA in Fine Arts and working on masters in ID, I feel like I have observed many faces of both parties.
What I feel thesedays is that:
Design in general now has many faces-you can call it a monster born from the global media or pure ego of survival or struggle to becoming something else.
ID in U.S and some European countries have been emerged with Fine Arts movements & Arts and Craft movement a while ago-not only in its context but in its idea of eliticism.
Recently, I think this ideology of becoming arts and craft has been dominated many schools in Western area while many Asian countries are in their early step of adapting or experimenting with ID in technology and science.
Many design and Fine arts magazines publish same kind of works and similar context. Graphic design has been experimenting with source outside the academia just like Fine Arts long ago, and again in ID, it has emerged with the ego: self-reflection of who made the object and return to the soul: going back to good old days concept of rejecting the new technology and upcoming history of design.
Furniture shows are now not much different from Venice or NY’s Whitney Museum shows, movie stars use gallery shows as their social events as well as it is becoming similar in design exhibitions now.
Young designers fashion themselves to sell whatever to survive, and those who are new to design gets easily influenced by all this melting pot of different markets/ideas/$$/fame and ego.
I am not trying to say what is good and what is bad.
Whatever it is working for one is fine for themselves. People use design as similar tool as becoming a fashion model, MTV show cast, Next Sensation show or just simply to fit into the group that they think it is cool.

What I wish in ID schools is that academia must balance the situation and not getting too much involved in making stars, or blow the air into every students’ lungs and turn them into some sort of performance artists of the era.
Someone recently told me that those design stars are probably already good business men/women. They are probably top notched statistic people who could survive doing anything and still make $$.

It is just funny how design students are acting like Fine Art students now, and still in Fine Arts scene, designers can’t be accepted in their circle, yet.
As a poor and confused current ID student who wanted to become a surviving Fine Artist, I wish to stop learn how to play the similar game and take more practical education to survive in the real world. Now I believe this will last much longer.

I’m in the same boat as the other people who have expressed interest in C’brook’s program. I’m also without an undergrad degree in design but looking into 2D there. Thanks for the link to the thesis work. Not knowing people’s majors there, it’s so hard to tell what people went there for. Is that good? I don’t know. New Pratt Kid, thank you for your thoughts. I’ve been thinking much the same stuff lately. It seems like the disciplines are conflating, and the line between art and design is getting so blurred that I’m not even sure it exists anymore. What am I saying, if I referred to it, then of course it exists. My point is simply that things are complicated, which makes it an exciting time to contemplate grad school. I’m hungry for something different, something new. I want to be one of those people on the scary egde of things. Are there any current students or recent alumni who can tell me more about the department?!?

It is true that the line between art and design is becoming very blurry. If you can get a interview with Elliot I would highly suggest giving Cranbrook a strong lookif thats what your interested in. However, not to be Cliché but you need to visit the schools. If you decide to visit Cranbrook, they will give you a room to stay in and access to crits and events of any department. Everything is very open and a visit would definitely answer any questions about what the hell goes on here. The joke at Cranbrook is came in as an Architect left as a painter. People are expected to follow there passions and develop a point of view and POV is something than can be critiqued no matter what department your in.

There was a quote we had written on the chalk board in the 2d/3d design department, “Dare to be a flamboyant failure” from Malcolm McCallum. I think this says a lot about what goes on here at Cranbrook.

Heres a link to our Graduate Show gallery

Guest, thanks for that. In fact, it’s a bit troublesome to me. The one thing that worries me A LOT is what kind of position a degree from Cranbrook would put me in. Remember, I don’t have the professional undergrad degree, and as much as I admire Cranbrook and the work of many of the alumni, I worry that this degree won’t pull professional rank either. I have to seem overly practical about school, but this is definitely an issue for me, even though I try to focus on experimenting in my work and just growing creatively. Any thoughts on that?

My bad its Malcolm McLaren. Had a few drinks last night.

well, i think this wannabe student hit the nail on the head about actual credentials. i mean, great, you can get your fancy-ass degree but, for someone without a prior graphic desgn degree or prior big-time work experience, could it possibly mean much? don’t get me wrong, i absolutely adore and faithfully follow the work coming out of cranbrook, but i have to wonder about what happens to those rock-stars-in-the-making once get they graduate. maybe someone from cranbrook could provide some answesr?