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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Graphics program teaches real-world design

NE student Randy Mappus drafts out an online portfolio for his Web Design class taught by Sean Foushee of the graphics program. This is Mappus’ first graphics class, and he plans to take more in the spring. Photo by Jason Floyd/The Collegian
NE student Randy Mappus drafts out an online portfolio for his Web Design class taught by Sean Foushee of the graphics program. This is Mappus’ first graphics class, and he plans to take more in the spring. Photo by Jason Floyd/The Collegian

By Cody Daniels/reporter

NE student Randy Mappus drafts out an online portfolio for his Web Design class taught by Sean Foushee of the graphics program. This is Mappus’ first graphics class, and he plans to take more in the spring.   Photo by Jason Floyd/The Collegian
NE student Randy Mappus drafts out an online portfolio for his Web Design class taught by Sean Foushee of the graphics program. This is Mappus’ first graphics class, and he plans to take more in the spring. Photo by Jason Floyd/The Collegian

TCC’s graphics program is taking a different academic approach to give its students a better chance of finding a job after graduation.

Faculty members have been trying to ensure the graphics program is reality-based. They want all students to learn what it is really like getting graphics jobs and to learn exactly what such positions will entail in the real world.

Although the program is 16 courses in its entirety, TCC, this school year, became the only community college in Texas with a web design certificate program, something students should acquire after graduation to enter the field. The certificate program is separate from the associate degree and takes an average of four semesters to complete.

Graphic communication instructor Sean Foushee said because no bachelor’s degree program exists for web design or most graphics-specific trades, the certificate helps qualify students for real jobs.

“Most kids sometimes mess around with Photoshop and say, ‘Look, I can do this,’ and they need to be taught that all working with clients is about is understanding concepts and translating those concepts conceptually into digital language,” Foushee said. “We want to point the program in a more commercial direction so students can learn to use the industry-standard Adobe software and learn to become profitable doing art they love.”

Students who get certified can provide “creative deliverables” for their clients as well as campaigns, political ads, commercial web design, gaming and animation.

“One of the most important things is learning to use the industry software, but the graphics program is solely about conceptualizing client ideas and transferring them digitally,” Foushee said. “If we can teach students to do this, they will be fine.”

Graphic communication instructor Chris Flynn said the program’s structure is based around actual career field tasks. 

“Nothing you wouldn’t see in a real job situation will appear in the curriculum,” Flynn said. “Everything has real-world implications.”

To aspire to a career in graphics, instructors urge students to have basic computer skills. They don’t need to be able to draw. From there, the program teaches the knowledge necessary to succeed in the graphics industry as a production assistant, staff designer or web designer.

“We are currently learning to create content for the iPad,” Flynn said. “We’re exploring a lot of new digital features that it presents regarding publishing and learning to create digital apps.”

Flynn said students love the process, but the one drawback is some students with lesser computer skills are having problems because the work is complicated and tedious.

Learning to create iPad content is an important part, however, in turning the direction of the program to a commercial standpoint.

“I love learning what we have so far this semester,” graphics student Connor Asphaugh said. “I was unsure about my field choice when I came into the graphics program, but I’ve quickly fallen in love with it. It’s tough, but the rewarding kind.”

The graphics sector includes a lab equipped with all the industry-standard software, which students spend more than 75 percent of their time practicing on.

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