Graphic Design

Graphic Design - BFA

Before applying, please make sure to familiarize yourself with the Graphic Design Program, faculty, facilities, curriculum and student work.

Please note that you must complete all Admissions Requirements as well as the portfolio requirements to be considered for admission. The Bachelor Graphic Design program requires all of the following:

  • Online Portfolio

  • Designer Statement

  • Video Introduction

  • Two Letters of Recommendation   

Please review the general application requirements and the details of the additional requirements below.

Important: If you are interested in character design and storytelling in animation, please consider applying to the Character Animation and/or Experimental Animation programs instead. CalArts does not offer a program in Illustration nor in Comic Book. 

You cannot make any changes to your applications after it has been submitted.

 

Graphic Design - MFA 

Before applying, please make sure to familiarize yourself with the Graphic Design Program, faculty, facilities, curriculum and student work.

Please note that you must complete ALL Admissions Requirements as well as the Portfolio Requirements to be considered for admission. The Master of Fine Arts Graphic Design program requires all of the following:

  • Online Portfolio

  • Designer Statement

  • Video Introduction

  • Two Letters of Recommendation

  • Interview

Please review the details of these requirements below.

Important:
– It is preferred that applicants for the 2-year MFA have some professional work experience beyond an undergraduate degree.
– If you are interested in character design and storytelling in animation, please consider applying to the Character Animation and/or Experimental Animation programs instead. CalArts does not offer a program in Illustration nor in Comic Book.

You cannot make any changes to your applications after it has been submitted.


Portfolio Requirements (BFA)

In Slate, use the portfolio section to upload your files. You may upload still images or video works. For each slide, include a short synopsis (one- or two-sentences about the context and concept of your piece), date, medium, and size. If a project was a collaboration please tell us your exact role in the project. 

Once your portfolio is uploaded, it can be viewed and rearranged until the final submission is made. No changes can be made following the final submission of your portfolio. Please be advised that CalArts is not able to view your work until the final submission is made and your payment is received. Be sure to submit your portfolio to the correct degree level and program. 

Your portfolio should consist of 20 pieces minimum. Present work that shows your point of view as a designer as well as your technical ability. Please include work in any of the following: graphic design, typography, illustration, animation, web design, 3D design, photography, painting, and drawing. 

  • One image per slide; detail shots in a separate slide (we are not able to zoom-in)

  • Acceptable file formats: jpeg, pdf, png, gif, mp4 and mov

  • Acceptable external links: Vimeo, YouTube, personal website. We discourage Google Drive and zipped files. 

  • Important: Do not submit a pre-formatted portfolio completed previously. Each slide should show an individual work with synopsis information in the caption area.

Optional Graphic Design Project (PDF) This is highly recommended for applicants who need graphic design samples for their portfolio. 

If you experience technical difficulties while uploading your portfolio, you may send an email to the Review Coordinator, Ani Kazandjian, at akazandjian@calarts.edu.

 

Portfolio Requirements (MFA)

In Slate, use the portfolio section to upload your portfolio of digital files. For each work, include a short synopsis (one- or two-sentences about the context and concept of the piece), date, and any other notes. If a project was a collaboration please tell us your exact role in the project. You may upload still images or motion graphics.

Your portfolio should consist of a minimum of 20 pieces. Present work that shows your point of view as a designer as well as your technical ability. Please include professional or student work in any of the following: graphic design, typography, image-making, motion graphics, UI/UX, photography, and type design.

  • One image per slide; detail shots in a separate slide (we are not able to zoom-in).
  • Acceptable file formats: jpeg, png, gif, mp4 and mov
  • Acceptable external links: Vimeo, YouTube, personal website. We discourage Google Drive and zipped files. 

IMPORTANT: Do not submit a pre-formatted portfolio completed previously. Each slide should show an individual work with synopsis information in the caption area.

Once your portfolio is uploaded, it can be viewed and rearranged until the final submission. No changes can be made after the final submission. Be advised, CalArts is not able to view your work until the final submission is made and your payment is received. Be sure to submit your portfolio to the correct degree level and program.


Designer Statement (BFA)

In your statement, please write specifically about your interest and knowledge of graphic design. Describe your design projects, any design related experience(s) you have had and your future design goals. It is recommended that your statement be between 500 and 1000 words.

 

Designer Statement (MFA)

In your statement, please write specifically about your interest and knowledge of graphic design. Your designer statement should concisely address your objectives and goals as a designer in the context of current issues in design practice, as well as how these goals serve as a basis for graduate-level study. 

Please include information that answers the following:

  • Why you want to study graphic design at the MFA level?
  • Why you want to study in the Graphic Design program at CalArts?
  • What kind of work are you interested in making as an MFA student?
  • Please choose ONE project from your portfolio and reflect on it. This allows the committee to understand how you use research, process, and critique.

It is recommended that your statement be between 500 and 1000 words.


Video Introduction (BFA, MFA)

Applicants are required to submit a video introduction. We would very much like to meet you and since this would be impossible in practical terms, we ask that you send a brief video introducing yourself. 

Please tell us about yourself and your interests.

  • Duration: minimum of 30 seconds, maximum of 90 seconds.

  • Speak directly to the camera.

  • No edits.

  • No special effects or on-screen overlays.

  • File should be uploaded or linked directly in your portfolio.

  • Cellphone camera video is okay.


Letters of Recommendation (BFA, MFA)

Two letters of recommendation are required. All letters of recommendation should be received by the application deadline, so it is highly recommended that you contact your recommenders months before the application deadline.

At least one recommendation should be written by a person who understands your designer work, such as a performance instructor or art teacher. We request that you submit the requests for your letters of recommendation through the online application, as it will allow you to track when we receive your requested letters.

Only if this is not possible, you may download the Letter of Recommendation Form (pdf) and have your recommender send their letters by mail to the Office of Admissions. Please choose only one method – either through the online application (preferred) or by mail – per recommender. Letters of recommendation will not be accepted via credentialing services such as Parchment or Naviance.

Mailed letters of recommendation should be sent to:

CalArts Office of Admissions
24700 McBean Pkwy.
Valencia, CA 91355
United States of America

Please note, letters of recommendation must be written in English or accompanied by a certified English translated document.

MFA Interviews

Applicants who have passed the preliminary selection process will be notified in mid-February. At that time, candidates will be invited to visit CalArts in March for an interview and to meet faculty and students. The interview is required of invited candidates and is an important component of the final selection process. Video chat interviews are available in exceptional cases, however we like to emphasize the importance of having an in-person interview as part of the application process for prospective students. Additionally, it gives you an opportunity to see the school and meet and talk to the faculty.