Design school search

ivan_melendez's picture

I just moved to Reading PA. I was wondering if someone could tell me of any good design schools in PA.

Thanks
Ivan M,

dan_reynolds's picture

Reading is within "reasonable" driving distance of Baltimore, in Maryland. I would say that the Maryland Institute, College of Art (MICA) is better than any of the design schools in Pennsylvannia.

Graduates of Carnegie Mellon might disagree with me, though.

dezcom's picture

As a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, I would highly recomend CMU.
<http://www.cmu.edu/cfa/design/>
Perhaps this is a "Battle of the Dans" (Dan Reynolds, Linotype Intern, vs. Dan Boyarski, Chairman of the Design Department at CMU) :-)

Sorry Dan, I had to counter your endorsement. :-)

ChrisL

dan_reynolds's picture

That's OK, I didn't go to MICA. I am from Baltimore, originally, and I dreamed of going to MICA when I was in high school. After I got accepted, I realized that they didn't have a graphic design program (they do now), and I went to RISD instead. I would recommend that *anyone* go there instead, too, but Providence would be too long of a drive from PA :-(

dezcom's picture

Hans Van Dyjk is a Carnegie Mellon grad too :-)

ivan_melendez's picture

Thanks guys i appreciate it. They are both great choices. But which one is closer? Though Carnegie Melon is in Pittsburg PA I think MICA is closer. What do u think Chris.

dezcom's picture

Ivan,
They are about the same. I would look at both schools and make your choice on how they fit your educational plans. Pittsburgh may be 20 minutes closer but that is hardly enough to make a choice on. Carnegie Mellon is quite hard to get into. You must have outstanding grades and SAT scores. I have never heard anything about MICA so I can't say anything about it. Maybe Dan can fill you in. Also, check out there web sites and visit both schools. You might also look at PCA in Philadelphia.

Chris

dan_reynolds's picture

>From what I know, Carnegie Mellon isn't an art/design school, but rather a large University with a very good art/design department. The Maryland Institute is the oldest degree granting art school in the United States. For well over 100 years, though, it was just a regional college. Since the 1980s, it has also become a very good and competitive school on the national radar. They very much want to be the best art school in the country, and for things like painting, they might already be there. Design there is new. Just like graphic design isn't the most important major at Carnegie Mellon (that would probably be Engineering

dezcom's picture

Carnegie Mellon is a small university with about 5,000 students. Their long-standing design department grew out of the Bauhaus when designers left Germany because of growing resentment from political factions. Later, their was a strong Ulm influence with teachers like Marten Krampen and Gui Bonnsieppe. This was followed by a strong Basel influence. Their computer science department is ranked first in the country. Perhaps this helped bolster the human interface interaction design which is quite strong at CMU. They also have a world-famous drama department. One of their graduates in Painting was Andy Warhol.
CMU stresses high academic achievement and a very strong portfolio for entrance. There is a great stress on communication problem solving to complement studio skills. CMU design graduates are expected to be analytical thinkers who use their studio/computer skills to facilitate the entire design process. The class sizes are quite small and access to equipment is excellent.

Take a drive and see both schools. That is the only way to see firsthand.

Chris

William Berkson's picture

>One of their graduates in Painting was Andy Warhol.

I believe he dropped out ;)

Type designer Christian Schwartz I believe is a CMU grad. As is my son, a few years earlier, in computers.

Overall, an excellent and very demanding school in both fine arts and engineering (including computers).

dan_reynolds's picture

Warhol did graduate from the then-Carnegie Institute of Technology, somewhere around 1950.

dezcom's picture

Designer Dan Friedman graduated from CMU (then Carnegie Tech) a year after I did. He later attended Ulm and then went to Basel where he met and later married April Greiman.

CMUs more famous grads are astronauts Sally Ride and Judith Resnick and numerous actors including Paul Newman.

The most famous CMU graduate will certainly be my daughter Julia, now a junior music composition major :-)

ChrisL

Chris Rugen's picture

I went to CMU as well, and Chris L is right about CMU now. The Design School is quite good, but is much more focused on thinking and problem solving than it is on creativity and style. Depending on your personality/skills this could be a good or bad thing. There is a strong Swiss/International Style influence, particularly in the Basel-ish teaching methods of a few professors, but it doesn't completely subsume other schools of thought. CMU is great because it isn't strictly a design school, so you get exposed to excellent practioners from other fields. It's also very 'what you make it', so those who really strive to break out and initiate projects and programs can end up doing amazing things. Others will end up getting a good design education, but nothing truly remarkable. There was a leadership change a few years ago (Dan Boyarski is the head now), so it may be less cerebral (it got out of hand occasionally) and more creative now.

Grades are definitely a plus, but with the School of Design, it's all about aptitude and demonstrating an inquisitive and active mind, along with some creativity. I got into CMU on black and white work alone, but my portfolio was very organized, and demonstrated an eye for analysis and design foundations informing artistic decisions.

It's a great school and Pittsburgh is very underrated. If you want to know more, drop me an email.

One of my coworkers, who's quite skilled, recommends Philadelphia University. It's not a design school, but it has a good design program. If you want a broader education with your design curriculum, it might be more of what you're looking for, and closer than CMU. That's about all I know. Oh, and Drexel is quite active with AIGA, but I don't know much about their program.

PS: Dan, my only objection to your description of CMU is that of the Art Department. I saw very little at CMU that impressed me coming from the 'conceptually oriented' Art Dept. Some may disagree.

Chris Rugen's picture

'Objection' was probably too strong of a word. I agree with your general observations. Though, I'm not sure how admissions are weighted in terms of University (grades) vs. School (portfolio).

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