February 13–April 17, 2014
(10 weeks)

Do you have a design project that you want to start, but don’t know where to begin? Has your day job taken some of the passion out of your portfolio? Have you started a personal project but are having a hard time completing it without the benefit of regular feedback? Perhaps you just miss showing new work to a group of trusted fellow designers or colleagues?

Created specifically for graphic designers looking to refresh their portfolios, this class is based on an MFA mentorship model. The class was created to provide the structure necessary to make a real project and offer quality feedback to challenge and push students. Without concrete milestones and helpful feedback, projects can languish indefinitely.

Students in this class will propose one project, receive feedback on its viability and promise, and then meet weekly for group critiques and individual consultations with the instructor. Students who know they are in need of new work but are unsure where to begin will work with the instructor to assess needs and find a suitable project. This class is open to students interested in creating new design-driven projects in print, web, and motion.

Instructor Namdev Hardisty has been teaching at MCAD since 2008 and helped dozens of students bring personal projects from an idea to completion.

More details and financial assistance information at MCAD Continuing Education.


Schedule: Thursdays, 6:30-9:30pm
Instructor: Namdev Hardisty
Non-Credit Tuition: $380.00

Registration opens January 6th

Sign up for our teaching newsletter Class Action and get an email reminder as well as early announcements of new classes.

* indicates required


Why should I take this class? 
Do you keep telling everyone that you want to do a personal project? Do you have a project that you keep meaning to start but haven’t been able to? Has your portfolio taken the “Day Job Hit” where your 9–to-5 doesn’t contribute to your book? Do you have a technical skill (motion graphics, type design, development) that you haven’t been able to apply to personally-gratifying work?

Those are all legitimate reasons to take this class.

It come down to this: Do you want to do new work that is exactly what you need to do right now?

I’m a print designer, can I use this class to learn web design?
No, I wouldn’t be able to help you. You need the technical foundation to do your work already. You should take one of MCAD’s introductory HTML/CSS courses.

Have you taught this class before?
No. But I have worked with students to produce about 2 dozen self-created projects including a graduate thesis.

How will the class be structured?
Classes overall will be a mix of individual consultations, informal group critiques (meaning participation not required), design presentations and guest critics.

All other time aside from scheduled presentations and individual meetings will be dedicated to working.

Guest critics will do 1-on-1 meetings and portfolio reviews with students whose projects would most benefit from that person’s feedback.

Who are the guest critics?
March 13th—J. Zachary Keenan, The MVA Studio (formerly of MPR, Olson, and MCAD DesignWorks; expertise in branding, campaigns, illustration, and print design).

March 20th—Maranatha Wilson, Sr. Art Director, Curb Crowser/Adjunct Faculty, MCAD (formerly of WCCO and Shinebox Creative; expertise in retail branding and strategy, and motion design).

March 27th—Todd Paulson, VP Creative Director, KNOCK, Inc. (expertise in advertising, branding, packaging and strategy).

April 3rd—Andrea Hyde, Designer, Walker Art Center (expertise in book design, exhibition graphics, and branding)

I’ll announce more guest critics as they are confirmed.

How much homework should I do?
A minimum of 5 hours a week. I have little faith that anything less than that will result in a substantial project. I think 8–10 hours would be ideal. This could be one weekend afternoon and 2 evening “TV” sessions (in duration. Don’t actually watch TV).

Before the class starts you need to schedule and commit to how much time you’ll spend working during the class. We can’t make sure you meet your goal without knowing how much time you can give it. Be prepared to share this schedule with me the week before class. 

Would it be ridiculous to spend 20 hours a week if I work part-time?
No, that would be an incredibly smart investment in yourself.

I only see print design in your portfolio but I want to do a motion graphics piece. Will that work?
Yes. I’ve mentored students in print, motion, branding and exhibition design. If you choose to work in motion, web, illustration or data-visualization you may also want to seek out an additional specialist who can give you more refined feedback. This would only strengthen your work.

What do you mean by “advanced”? 
Advanced meaning that you have a body of work and the skills to make new portfolio-worthy work. The problem might be that there are certain disciplines (identity, film titles, book design) or  industries (publishing, museums, skateboarding) that are absent. Or there could be an area of research (architecture, surfing, Kubrick) that you want to explore through design. 

I just graduated. Should I skip this class?
Depends. Is your current portfolio an adequate representation of who you want to be as a designer? Is it the best you can do? If no, then you should join us.

My friend and I want to take the workshop and do a collaboration. What do you think?
Great idea. Just set expectations up front about how much time you’ll put in and what it is you each want to get out of it. 

Ok, I’m definitely taking this class. What should I do while I wait for registration to open on January 9th?

Part A—Answer these questions:

  1. What’s missing from your portfolio that you really want to do? Is it a type of work (website, book cover series, an app, branding) or a business/cultural sector (skateboarding, journalism, agricultural equipment, track bikes) that you want to work in? 
  2. Is there an area of design that you have dabbled in but haven’t been able to re-visit? What is it?
  3. What area of design do you wish you were stronger in or would like some more experience?
  4. Whose work makes you jealous? Why?
  5. If you had to come up with your own assignments for the class, what 3 projects would you give yourself? Please don’t worry about whether they’re “appropriate” or hard enough.

Part B—Realistically assess your schedule from February 13th–April 17th.  How many hours can you spend per week on this project? Determine if there’s anything you can delegate for 10 weeks or TV shows that you can wait for them to show up on Netflix so that you can carve out more time? Do you have some vacation time you could take in there to make a bigger dent? No matter what just remember to be realistic. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment.

More questions? Just ask.


Have you checked out the rest of our Spring 2014 classes?

10 week courses in typography, experimental-image-making and personal mapping for beginning and advanced-level designers.

Find them all here.