Learn the fundamentals of graphic design in this design studio. Graphic design is all around you — on subway posters, websites, T‑shirts, candy wrappers. It is the medium in which words and images combine to communicate messages effectively. In this class, students focus on learning analog and digital creative problem-solving techniques and the basics of graphic form and expressive typography. Assignments will offer students the opportunity for maximum creative input while challenging each individual to be innovative thinkers and successful problem solvers. All assignments are framed within the graphic design methodology of research, concept development, critique, analog and digital production methods, professional output, and presentation.

info session:

session 1

topics: introductions, moodboards, where to find inspiration

session 2

topics: posters & history, fileformats, RGB vs CMYK, bitmaps vs vector, computer shortcuts

session 3

topics: How posters work, guest: Kaede Tatemura talked about Brand

session 4

topics: library info session. how to critique

session 5

topics: Typography intro, homage vs plagiarism

session 6

topics: monograms, history of typography, the purple cow, writing workshop

session 7

topics: Learning Center session, collages

session 8

topics: Admission’s office session, 

session 9

topics: guest: Genevieve Williams

session 10

topics: prepare all work for presentation


Student Work

the assignments:
Project 1: Me Poster (Self Portrait without a Face)
Starting with mood boards to introduce your personality, define a project that will serve as a self-portrait, revealing or concealing identity, without using a literal face. It can contain shapes of a face, just not a selfie.

Project 2: Monogram, Large Type Poster
Using a grid of checker-board squares (either 3 or 4 rows up and/or down) play with letters shapes & counter shapes. Sign the work with a monogram of your initials. This poster can be b/w or colorized in one or two colors, but the main focus should be the interplay of negative shapes.

Project 3: Valley of the Cute (and/or Evil) character design
Create a cute character, using illustrator vectors. It can later be turned into a silk-screened t‑shirt or fabric. If you have time, also design its arch-enemy antagonist and create a world and story around it.

Project 4: Artist Statement and “about” text in any application or cover letter
We always need a paragraph, or 2 or 3 to describe our work. This will be useful for your Linkedin, Tumbler about, resume, cover letter, etc. We will discuss several warm-ups and techniques.

Project 5: Animated GIF to post on social media platforms
to post on social media platforms. Choose a topic that reflects current world events, social issues, and personal experiences and interests as a springboard for your design inspiration. For example, you might choose issues of diversity and inclusion and how we can educate ourselves to contribute as informed participants of society.

Project 6: Figure-Ground Relationship poster. Some of the students already finished their assignments early, so this last poster is based on the idea that every shape has a counter shape and I wanted that both of those shapes are large and equally important.

we also worked on a collage and took pictures of typography around the neighborhood.

Ian Lim

My name is Ian Lim. I was born in Malaysia, grew up in Shanghai, and then moved to Jakarta for a few years. Since then, I have moved back to Shanghai. Despite having been to multiple places with varying climates, I still prefer to stay indoors. Being indoors allows me to freely generate ideas without the distraction of the bustling city, noisy passers-by, etc. I often base my projects in fictional settings, usually that of alternate or future history. This is essentially escapism. This emphasis on fiction stems from my interest in history and my imagination of how the world could be in a better or worse way than it is today due to the turmoil environment of today. An inspiration of non-modern art styles is my enjoyment of the 80s synth/cyberpunk-Esque art styles because of their vibrant neon colors, colors often absent from realistic paintings. 

Currently, my favorite and primary medium of art I specialize in is 3D modeling, primarily using the open-source software known as Blender. I have only recently moved from modeling objects and scenes to rendering them. I also sketch and sometimes use Procreate (software), watercolor, and acrylic paint, though these aren’t what I’m best at. Recently, graphic design has been a new interest of mine after discovering how versatile it is, especially at making logos and for post-processing (specifically with Photoshop). I see the ability to make icons and symbols quickly as a great aid to my world-building skills and also for school-related activities such as posters for student council elections, just to name a few. With the help of this pre-college graphics design course by Parsons, I hope to reach the necessary skills that let me consistently pump out top-notch high-quality work in the future. 

Yuechi Yuki Liu

Hi, everyone; my name is Yuki. I am the kind of artist who really likes to use cartoon characters for my work. In my “me” poster, I use blue and purple to make it feel like the fantasy in the anime’s middle of the poster. First, I think that the Anime character will catch people’s attention, so I use that as the main object in the theme poster. Many of my drawings use blue and purple. This is the two-color that I really like to use as my primary color because I want people to feel like the future. The logo that I made is one of the special ones in getting the idea forms the Winter Olympic 2022 (mainly I am Beijing that is a good thing to celebrate). I really like this class all the painting. I like how the teacher us. I am the kind of person who likes art, and I am also ways happy, so in the drawing, you maybe can feel happy. I will continue my work. Thank you.

Yi Yang Irene Song 

I am Irene Song, and I come from Beijing, which is a busy city. To escape the bustling and hustling life, I seek to create peaceful and quiet artwork to adjust my anxiety. I often develop art when I have strong feelings, such as a family trip, food that I like, or inspiration that caught my interest from the street. Then, I will record them down on my iPad or a sketchbook. Before I participated in Parsons Precollege graphic program, I mostly used apps such as Concepts and Procreate to draw. Now I have been introduced to new programs. They showed me how to use Photoshop and Illustration. These programs are more professional for graphic designers; however, everything starts with a good idea. 

Currently, I am working on a “Me” poster, which is a poster that represents my personality without using a literal portrait. In the center of the poster, I used a heart to be the focal point; it defines me. Audiences can recognize and connect to this heart quickly because of its bright red color. This heart is surrounded and attacked by various animals with angry faces. They represent the intense forces and pressures society puts on me. The viewer can rotate the poster in any direction. I started with mood boards and sketches and then designed this poster using Illustrator and Photoshop, an innovative and new experience for me. In the future, I wish I could dive deeper into graphic design and get inspiration by studying how other designers work.

William Wang

My name is William Wang. I was born in America, but I moved to Shenzhen when I was one year old. Shenzhen is a fast-paced city; everyone here tries to do things as fast as possible. And for me, it is hard to understand a world that is so complex and fast. I enjoy being with myself; it is when everything is simple and easy and when I can organize my thoughts. I also enjoy being with my friends, and their ideas always inspire me. I like to keep myself happy, so I will try to remember the happy things by recording them down. Whether it is a crazy idea or a little thought, I believe that someday, it will inspire me when I look back at it.

I want to keep my designs and artworks simple. I will often use simple objects like shapes, words, and colors to demonstrate a greater meaning. For example, I tried to use simple shapes and words to express how if we don’t get enough sleep, it will be hard for us to learn in class. I am the kind of person that likes to sleep late at night, so this is also a poster that warns me. And through the process, I learned and got used to building shapes and drawing lines in Illustrator and Photoshop. I enjoyed recording and producing my ideas using this software. 

Yuhe Julie Xie

My name is Julie Xie. I grew up in Xi’ an, a large city and ancient capital in Central China. The climate there is mild, warm in winter, and cool in summer. When I graduated primary school, my family moved to Shenzhen, a more modern and fast-paced city. I enjoy traveling a lot because I am fascinated to explore new sites and accumulate knowledge. I like to take photos and videos to document my life during those travels, and I always carry a sketchbook with me. Those experiences inspire my artwork. At this point, these impressions are created just for myself, and about my emotions, and what I like and think, unconstrained and free, but in the future, I hope to study fine art and share my work more widely. 

I keep studying basic sketching, and currently, I am working on an installation work about a catapult trebuchet. Through the Parsons pre-college graphic design online class, I learned to use professional graphic design programs such as Photoshop and Illustrator. Before that, I only knew how to use Procreate. In addition, I also learned several techniques to record and guide my inspiration, like building mind maps and Mood boards. I recently finished designing a “Me” Poster. a portrait that represents me without a literal face. It is titled Daydream and about the many life experiences that I have planned. It is abstract and shaped closely like a heart or a flame. The whole composition seems fluid, representing my spirit and how it constantly veers towards many attractions. I seek to explore and accumulate more skills and knowledge to become an accomplished artist in the future.

Jiayi Daisy Xue

I am Daisy, and I am from Shanghai. I enjoy art a lot, it has been a hobby that I did for the longest through out my life. Under the current fast-paced society, me, an introvert person, sometimes feels disconnected. My friends comment me as a person who stays in their own world, and because of that, I choose to use surreal colors inside my Me Poster. Elements that represent myself were included, e.g. a computer that shows I use the internet a lot, and some kind of classical(?) curtain usually seen at the theater on top on the image to create a sort of “unveiling” feeling. I drew the illustration that was embedded onto the computer screen by myself, to make (at least a bit of it?) seem quite original. I am usually very passionate towards things that I enjoy, and the effort and love I put into art allowed me to escape from real life and be happy. 🙂

Daqian Max Zheng

My name is 郑大潜; the name means “earn big money / have great potentials” in Chinese. I prefer to be called Max. I am a 14 years old male human (apparently), and I am a pure Shanghainese who (weirdly) can’t speak the local dialect.

Thanks to my grandpa, who initiated my art career, I have been drawing since I can hold a pen. He is a great traditional Chinese painter and a skilled calligraphist himself, though I can do neither Chinese painting nor calligraphy well for various reasons. I love to sketch using pencil and fountain pen and script liner, apart from watercolor. I don’t usually apply any other pigments to color my artwork. I am recently experimenting with coloring my drawings using acrylic, but the progress is still unpredictable.

I hate themed design since a specific theme limited creativity (themed design here means something like “design a chair that can hold 20 people with an apple illustration on it,” not “design a chair” just in case if anybody misunderstands me). I am now studying Parsons’ graphic design course, an amazing lesson for a designer apprentice like me. During the course, we designed a “me poster,” a poster representing me without showing my face directly. I first drafted a fantastic poster, but as I found that I couldn’t entirely realize my Adobe Illustrator concept, I changed it fundamentally. The final outcome is, well, “intuitively abstract.”
It is intuitive because the figures in it are all very distinct, and it is abstract because there is no obvious connection between me and that “me poster.”

I seek to learn more knowledge relevant to graphic design through the course, and I hope to one day design a poster that’s as good as those other famed designers.