Clemson’s Art program adds graphic design studio

June 5, 2024

Clemson University’s Department of Art is expanding with the addition of the graphic design studio in response to the growing demand for interdisciplinary skills in digital media. Beginning in Fall 2024, students in the BFA Visual Art program can choose graphic design as their studio area.

Drew Sisk, Assistant Professor of Graphic Design, will lead the studio.

Sisk is a versatile designer and artist. With an MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University, Sisk’s career spans academia and professional practice, including roles at Duke University Press and EM2 in Atlanta. His client portfolio, focused on nonprofits and cultural institutions, boasts collaborations with organizations like Georgia Aquarium and UNC-Chapel Hill. Recognized by the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) and others, his work blurs art and design boundaries, exploring media, politics and technology. Sisk’s self-published works are housed in prestigious collections of artists’ books at Yale University and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), among others. As co-founder of Utilities Included, a small exhibition space and publishing initiative in Chapel Hill, NC, he champions creativity beyond academia.

He noted that the graphic design curriculum will prepare students for professional practice in creative industries, including visual identity design and branding, user interface and user experience design and advertising, along with work in the broader fields of art, media and design.

“Students learn industry-standard tools for creative work while remaining nimble to constantly changing technology,” Sisk said. “An expanded, inclusive understanding of design history and contemporary practice helps students situate their work within an informed and global context.”

Establishing the graphic design studio marks a significant milestone for the department, aligning with recommendations outlined in the 2015 National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) Visitors Report, which serves as the accrediting body for all colleges and universities. Drawing on the interconnected nature of graphic design, this emphasis integrates emerging technologies and innovative artistic strategies with traditional forms, materials and methods.

The roots of graphic design at Clemson run deep, with the legacy dating back to the appointment of the first Art Department Chair in the 1960s, a graphic designer. Building upon this strong foundation, Sisk has spearheaded the development of the curriculum for the graphic design area, paving the way for a new generation of creative thinkers and visual communicators. His commitment to graphic design was featured on campus by collaborating with the Clemson University libraries to create the inaugural “Clemson Art Book Fair and Zine Fest” to showcase student work. This event, which took place this past Spring semester, included a mix of zines, artists’ books, posters, and other printed matter.

Art Department Chair and Professor Valerie Zimany, championed bringing the graphic design studio to fruition under the direction of interim dean of Clemson’s College of Architecture, Art and Construction George Petersen.

“The BFA Visual Art Graphic Design curriculum fosters effective visual communication within a dynamic global context,” Zimany said. “Emphasizing concept development, human-centered design, and visual techniques prepares students for impactful work. Aligned with ClemsonElevate, it prioritizes top student experiences and equips them to navigate evolving professional landscapes.”

For more information about the graphic design studio area, contact Art Department Chair and Professor Valerie Zimany at [email protected] or Assistant Professor of Art, Graphic Design, Drew Sisk [email protected].