University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee

Art & Design BFA - Design & Visual Communication

BFA - Design & Visual Communication

The competitive field of Design requires practitioners who are intellectually curious, inventive, dedicated, critical, collaborative, and proactive life-long learners. The Design and Visual Communication at UWM prepares students to be just that sort of practitioner - a strategist, problem-identifier, problem-solver, business partner.

Students build a body of work demonstrating their mastery of tools, media and concepts to effectively communicate ideas to a target audience. The curriculum includes coursework in composition, typography, strategy and design process, design methodologies and research, portfolio development, web and multimedia design, design entrepreneurship and real-world internships in local design firms.

Our curriculum works as on-going design laboratory. Risk-taking, experimentation and productive criticism are central to our program. Students must augment their classroom experience with membership in professional design organizations like AIGA, attending lectures, field trips, portfolio reviews, conferences, studio tours, workshops, and much more. To be competitive in this profession, it is simply not enough to major in Design and Visual Communication. Students must be engaged in the larger world of design, and have an ongoing awareness of what is happening locally, regionally and globally in design practice, design research and design entrepreneurship.

View student work as well as other important information about the Graphic Design Program

Ongoing Events and Activities

Resolution: Senior Capstone Showcase. An annual event that happens each spring semester where graduating Design and Visual Communication majors exhibit their capstone project and portfolio at Kenilworth.

Wisconsin Portfolio Review. Students from all across Wisconsin can participate in the portfolio review, lectures/workshops. This is a critical annual event for professionals see our program and current students’ talents and abilities.

UWM Design Entrepreneur Showcase. An annual event that happens each fall semester where Design and Visual Communication majors exhibit their semester project from Graphic Design 2 at Kenilworth. The students exhibit a highly refined prototype, information graphics of their research, personas of their target audience, their company brand, and a dynamic story exhibited in the video screening room.

AIGA-Wisconsin, The Professional Association for Design. Each year AIGA student members attend AIGAWI events, workshops, portfolio reviews, professional studio tours and more.

United Adworkers Local 208 is a Milwaukee based organization dedicated to the pursuit of marketing communications excellence. Student have the opportunity to join for free and network with a close knit group made up of advertising practitioners, designers, directors, photographers, production professionals, and all other professionals and students interested in the fine art of propaganda.

Area Student Achievements

Many of our graduates are hired to work for firms in locally / regionally prior to graduation or just after.

VSA Partners (Chicago), David Weyer – Freelance Designer
Guggenheim Partners (Chicago), Gena Larson – Creative Director
Razorfish (Chicago), Nathan Frank – Presentation Layer Architect
Razorfish (Chicago), Danny Mancuso – Creative Apprentice
Alterra Coffee (Milwaukee), Scott Schwebel – Director of Marketing
Hanson Dodge Creative (Milwaukee), Dan Jecha – Associate Art Director
Cyd Design Ltd (Milwaukee), Kelly Carlstedt – Graphic Designer
Kohl’s Department Stores (Milwaukee), Shawn Bast
Communicor Inc. (Milwaukee), Terri Blahnik – Graphic Designer
Magnetic (Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN), Tony Bobrov – User Interface Designer
Loudhaus Design (Milwaukee), Scott Carlson – Creative Director / Designer
PowerSports Network, David Cookle – Web Designer
GMR Marketing (Milwaukee), Heidi Cronce – Associate Art Director
GMR Marketing (Milwaukee), Melissa Dahlman – 2D Designer
GMR Marketing (Milwaukee), Kelley Linehan - Designer
Shopko, Kayla De Groot – Creative Designer
Wednesday (New York), Justin Edwards – Associate Creative Director
Thirsty Boy (Milwaukee), Lucas Fitzpatrick – Junior Art Director
Communicor (Milwaukee), Ross Ford – Graphic Designer
Pixelube (Seattle), Robert Gaszak – Graphic Designer
Modibook, Kierston Ghaznavi –Graphic Design/Illustration Intern
Spectrum Brands, Joe Handy – Senior Designer
Spectrum Brands, Kirk Kempker – Graphic Designer
BizTimes Media LLC, Picara Hay – Lead Graphic Designer
Zywave, Samantha Korthof – Associate User Interface Designer
Boelter + Lincoln, Nick Krusick – Creative Intern
About Face Media (Milwaukee), Justin Linnemeier – Production Assistant
Milwaukee Art Museum (Milwaukee), Dena Nord – Designer
Designkitchen, Jeremy Mlodik – Senior Designer

The Design and Visual Communication curriculum provides students with the skills and confidence to also start their own companies. During their senior year in the Design and Visual Communication program students engage in design entrepreneurship and exhibit their work at the UWM Design Entrepreneur Showcase. This year it is DECEMBER 6th from 5-9pm at the MiKE Innovation Lab at the Grand Avenue Mall.

Cog Magazine and Flavor Cycle, Kevin Sparrow (Co-founder, Designer and Serial Entrepreneur)
U The Center, Monte Eady (Co-Founder, Participanting in the VeTransfer lean startup business incubator program to launch U The Center)
Collura Creative LLC, Nick Collura – Photographer / Owner
Lily Red Studios, Suzy Rohan – Designer / Owner
Studio 29 Photography (Milwaukee), Ren Davis – Photographer / Designer
The Art Dept. (San Fransicso), Sarah Mick – Designer / Owner

Prospective Startups
Abakus The Math Adventure (mobile app), Founder Hunter Ruth – Honorable Mention 2013 BizStarts Collegiate Business Plan Competition

Bethany Armstrong, faculty The Art Institute of Chicago
Andrew Whitcomb, Visiting researcher at Veryday as part of the DESMA (Design + Management) initiative, Stockholm, Sweden

Scott Schwebel, Director of Marketing, Alterra Coffee (Milwaukee, WI) August 2011-Present
Vice President / Executive Creative Director, Hanson Dodge Creative, February 2004 – August 2011
VP Entertainment Marketing, GMR Marketing, 2002 - 2003

Andrew Whitcomb, Visiting Researcher, Veryday, Stockholm, Sweden (2012-2013)
PhD candidate, University of Gothenburg, Sweden (expected dissertation date 2016)
MGD, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, 2012
BFA, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 2008

Nate Frank, Razorfish (Chicago) 2007-current
Currently Senior Presentation Layer Architect
BFA, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 2004

Kevin Sparrow, Freelance Designer and Entrepreneur
International Intern, Agence Seenk, Paris, France (2013)
Co-founder, COG Magazine (Milwaukee) (2007-2012)
BFA, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 2012

Samantha Korthof, Zywave (Milwaukee)
Associate User Interface Designer (2012-current)
BFA, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 2012

Gena Larson, Guggenheim Partners (Chicago)
Creative Director (2010-current)
BFA, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 2006


For a list of current faculty and staff with contact information and biographies please visit the Art & Design Faculty & Staff page.


The Design & Visual Communications program facilities include a design center (small design library, book making facilities, conference area, exhibition space, and studio space), several digital labs, a letterpress studio, and spacious critique and classroom spaces.

For a list of all facilities offered within the Peck School of the Arts - Art & Design departments please visit the Art & Design Facilities page.

Admission Requirements

For a list of Peck School of the Arts admission requirements please visit the UWM Undergraduate Catalog

Go to laptop requirements for more information about the required hardware and software for the Design and Visual Communication program.

All students wishing to major in graphic design are required to go through a portfolio review after completing the First Year Program coursework and the introductory courses in Design and Visual Communication.

Course Descriptions

For a complete list of current offered courses please visit the UWM Peck School of the Arts Undergraduate Catalog


For updated curriculum please visit the curriculum section of the UWM Peck School of the Arts Undergraduate Catalog


For more information:

Lisa Moline (Area-Head)

Kim Beckmann

Adream Blair