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School of Visual Art and Design

  • student design on a coffee bag

Graphic Design + Illustration

We don’t just follow the rules, we create them. Graphic Designers understand the objects and interactions we create are part of larger systems and that we have responsibilities as message-makers. The Graphic Design + Illustration BFA Concentration brings together analog and digital methods with a focus on research and process throughout all our classes. We teach motion design, interaction and UX design, product design, packaging, typography, design systems, traditional illustration, drawing, and digital illustration.

Our alumni have design positions at Nike, Reebok, Google, Lyft, Bumble, Humana, Paper Source, The Florida Marlins, Aeropostale, RIGGS partners, ByFarr Design Studio, The Half and Half, Stitch, The Charlotte Hornets, Auburn University Athletics, University of South Carolina Football, The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and The South Carolina Lottery. With award winning faculty, GD+I students are set up to engage, explore, and achieve. Students leave our program with practical experience and a professionally reviewed portfolio prepared to enter the ever-expanding fields of design and illustration.

students in the clasroom at the white board and sitting at tables

Applying to GD+I

The Graphic Design + Illustration BFA does require a portfolio submission for upper level classes (300 and above)*. Once admitted, students take a tiered series of design and illustration courses including product, packaging, interaction, motion design, traditional and digital illustration. There is no application required to minor.

The GD+I Portfolio Review takes place every Spring semester. Students submit their portfolio and statement of intent after successfully completing ARTS102. For more information about the application process contact Stephanie Nace. For information on advising contact Brittany Sparks or Della Bryant. 

Read all about the program, see the curriculum and requirements in our digital GD+I FAQs brochure.

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GD+I Studios + Events

Something good is always happening here. Between the GD+I Visiting Speaker Series, our Monthly Meet Ups, and interdisciplinary projects across the School of Visual Art + Design, the College of Arts + Sciences, and the University at large, our students are presented with so many ways to engage with professionals and peers, practice and hone their craft as emerging illustrators and designers. 

Visitors to our program include Aaron Draplin, Stefan Sagmeister, Kelly Walters, Michael Beirut, James Victore, Chip Kidd, Stitch, Gil Shuler, Blue Ion, Jay Fletcher, Noah Scalin, Leo Espinosa, Chris Belheimer, Trollback+Co., House Industries, and Seymour Chwast.

Course Experience

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    Visual + Verbal Interaction

    Valdes leads junior-level design students on client-driven projects for real clients. This past year, the class collaborated with the USC Women’s Soccer Team to produce a 28-page full color and professionally printed publication that featured an in-depth look at what drives student athletes to success. Two students from the course were awarded a Magellan Scholar Award and were able to print 800 copies of the publication which were distributed at the soldout Carolina/Clemson Soccer game and to local soccer youths playing club and high school soccer.

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    Advanced Illustration

    Students in Dedas’ course explore self-driven content and further develop their illustration style. A combination of hand-drawn and digitally layered images widen the artistic depth within each student’s portfolio. Images for screen and print are explored. Projects developed include animations, posters and comics. Collaborations with local businesses are incorporated into this course to create experiential learning opportunities.

  • Process + Systems

    Professor Khalili engages students in process-driven assignments that require iterative practices and deliverables, indicative of working-world expectations. Designers are encouraged to highlight their unique strengths within each design solution. This course provides constant opportunity to present work to visiting professional creatives.

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    Visual + Verbal Interaction

    Professor Nace’s students for the last 20 years have been challenged with translating textual information to a visual poster and book cover forms. This project, The First-Year Reading Experience is a student competition that relates directly to real world client based work. The winner’s work in reproducted in great numbers and in many formats.

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    Professor Nace’s Structure class researches current topics that are affecting culture as well as investigate existing brands on the market today. They look at the strengths and weaknesses to learn how to better present the brand into today’s marketplace.

  • digital motion graphic of a girl brushing her teeth at a sink

    Time + Sequence

    Catherine Chi’s time-based motion design course challenges designers and illustrators to think critically about the narratives they develop and explore visually engaging ways to convey them.


Student Awards

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    Magellan Scholars 

    Rylei Brown-Campbell and Gracey Dorn granted UofSC Magellan Scholarships.

  • logo for Communication Arts Illustrated Annual

    Communication Arts Illustration Annual

    Josh Jackson, graphic designer and illustrator from South Carolina, now living and working in NYC. Josh is passionate about both design and illustration, and is happiest when he gets to bring those skills together to create something amazing and unique.

  • AIGA InShow design logo

    AIGA InShow Awards

    So many of our students win at the AIGA South Carolina awards! Our students, faculty, and alum have been awarded best of show and special judges awards.

  • logo for American Advertising Federation Midlands Addy Awards

    American Advertising Federation Midlands Addy Awards

    Our GD+I students, faculty, and alum win at the American Advertising Federation Midlands awards!

  • Photograph of Mitchell Zarkis

    Studio Art Rising Senior Award

    Mitchell Zarkis (2022)

  • Photograph of Kylie Wilkins

    Undergraduate Distinguished Service Award

    Kylie Wilkins (2022)

  • photograph of Gracey Dorn

    Undergraduate Studio Art Excellence Award, in honor of Ed Yahgijan:

    Gracey Dorn (2021)

  • photograph of Jahnna Blyden

    Undergraduate Distinguished Service Award

    Jahnna Blyden (2021)

  • photograph of Sam Spina

    Distinguished Alumni Award

    Sam Spina of Cartoon Network’s Regular Show and the upcoming HBO Max series Close Enough.




Accelerated Master of Arts

The MA degree has proven to be a valuable investment for students looking to spend additional time in the GD+I program to focus on improving their portfolios, learning new marketable skills, or gaining experience working with a faculty mentor to assist in teaching at the college level. GD+I is thrilled to work with students from other majors who discover the GD+I program later in their academic career and want more experience.

Watch this video to learn more about the accelerated degree.


Computer Recommendations

We love Apple products, but not to the exclusion of PC products. If students prefer to get something other than a MacBook, then the main requirement is being able to run Adobe Creative Cloud.

Students will want a minimum of the following: 

  • Windows 10 versions 21H1, 20H2, 2004, and 1909 (LTSB branches are not supported)
  • macOS 12 (Monterey), macOS 11 and macOS 10.16 (Big Sur), and macOS 10.15 (Catalina)

For an in-depth look at the system requirements, visit these links:

We have computers on campus that can be used most of the time. In the first year, students will likely need an external disk drive with a minimum of 1TB of storage.

Transfer Students

Applying with transfer credits or transferring from another school? Please contact Brittany Sparks, undergraduate advisor, at

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.