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  • Otis Fine Arts hosts a Visiting Artist lecture series featuring Matthew Brandt, a Los Angeles-based artist. Read more about him here.
  • Otis Fine Arts hosts a Visiting Artist lecture series featuring Kerry Tribe, an artist working primarily in film, video, and installation. Read more about her here.
  • You are invited to a Movies that Matter Special Screening of the powerful new film shaping the debate about rape on college campuses, The Hunting Ground, on Tuesday, September 15 at 7:15 PM in the Otis Forum.  The Hunting Ground is a startling exposé of sexual assaults on U.S. colleges, institutional cover-ups and the brutal social toll on the victims and their families from the Academy Award-nominated filmmaking team of Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering.
  • Otis Books is pleased to publish Tim Erickson’s debut collection of poetry, Egopolis, a textual journey through destruction, resistance, city, and the Ego, from ancient times to the present day. Erickson’s work has appeared in the Chicago Review, Western Humanities Review, and the Salt Anthology of New Writing. He lives in Salt Lake City.

  • The Architecture/Landscape/Interiors Department at OTIS College of Art and Design is pleased to announce a lecture by 

  • Otis Fine Arts hosts a Visiting Artist lecture series featuring Hassan Khan, an artist who lives and works in Cairo, Egypt. Read more about him here.

  • Otis Graduate Writing students will read from their works-in-progress.


Senior Studio Electives

Senior Studio Electives

Adversiting major students may select 4 units in the fall semester and 6 units in the spring semester.

Graphic Design major students may select 8 units in the fall semester and 8 units in the spring semester.

Illustration major students may select 6 units in the fall semester and 8 units in the spring semester.


Students may select from a wide range of studio elective courses listed below:



Advertising Workshop

ADVT 240    2 credits

Introduces students to the world of advertising with real advertising assignments. They analyze famous ad campaigns to learn why they were successful and how they affected American culture. Advertising guest speakers along with field trips to award winning ad agencies in the LA area are scheduled.


Design Boot Camp

ADVT250    2 credits

This course is treated like an agency to prepare students for the real world. Students will design and develop multiple ad layouts to refine their design skills, expand their design vocabulary and fine-tune their execution skills to prepare them for the industry.


Advertising and Art Direction I

ADVT302    2 credits

An exploration of advertising through advertising projects call for brand recognition and marketing strategies with an emphasis on defining and articulating compelling concepts. Students analyze advertising styles, develop concepts with “roughs,” experiment with copy and practice presentation skills.

Prerequisite: COMD207 Communication Studio I and COMD208 Communication Studio II.


Advertising and Art Direction II

ADVT303    2 credits

An introduction to art direction with an emphasis on design execution, typography and layout leads to quality portfolio development. This second semester course adds the 4th dimension of time to both advertising concepts through storyboarding and animatics and art direction through talent direction and commercial concepts.

Prerequisite: ADVT302 Advertising and Art Direction I


Ideation Boot Camp

ADVT353    2 credits

Students are taught new and unexpected ways to approach the process of creating ideas. Where do they come from? How do you develop abundant thinking? What exercises work and when? How do you know that it’s a good idea? These and many other questions are addressed in this course.


Copy Concepts in Advertising Writing  

ADVT351   2 credits

Students work on developing and analyzing writing styles with an emphasis on the interactivity of image and text as experienced by varied and specific audiences. Students learn about editing as they begin to approach writing as a powerful tool of persuasion and entertainment.


Type and Image for Advertising

ADVT 355    2 credits

This class focuses on creating synergy between photography and typography. Students develop the skills needed to be a competent Art Director on professional photo-shoots through a series of hands-on commercial photography exercises and then develop dynamic typographic solutions that complement the photography and enhance the strategic communication goal.


Advertising and Art Direction III

ADVT400    2 credits

Students push their research, analytical and technical skills under the influence of advanced, in-depth instruction involving professional creative briefs to solve advertising and branding problems. Teamwork is essential as the students explore creative assignments ranging from individual print ads to complete campaigns, including television and interactive and convergent media.

Prerequisite: ADVT 303 Advertising and Art Direction II


Advertising and Art Direction IV

ADVT402    2 credits

Elements of professional practice are incorporated into this threshold semester where students fine-tune their professional competencies in the areas of traditional portfolio development, web presentation and career focus through continued networking and investigation of agency structures and business practices. Lectures, agency visits and critiques complement this professional preparation.


Special Topics

ADVT403    2 credits

Students focus on advertising and branding solutions related to provocative and timely subjects and themes. The seminar is conceived as a professional multidisciplinary studio, in which students work in a range, individually and collaboratively, to produce quality portfolio pieces geared to their areas of professional interest.


Advanced Copy Concepts

ADVT452    2 credits

Extensive exploration of the power of effective copy for various media expands the students understanding of target audiences using the appropriate tone and level of formality. Developing clear, provocative and memorable copy is the goal for shaping brands and delivering their value to customers.


Interactive Advertising

ADVT 470     2 credits     

This course introduces students to the various opportunities for advertising in the online arena. They will be applying fundamental advertising concepts to emerging media such as online banners and web campaigns. This class will challenge students to be nimble and fluid with their campaigns.


Social Media

ADVT 472    2 credits

Students study online activity where people share opinions, experiences and other information. It is a powerful and unpredictable way of communicating today. Students gain a greater understanding of how people use social media. Special focus is given to current online media and how companies (big and small) use social media for marketing purposes.


On Screen Production + Concepts

ADVT473    2 credits

This course is designed for students to have a better understanding of how to produce commercials in a real world advertising environment. Producing commercials in an Advertising environment, students work in team(s) embracing a commitment of professionalism in their practice. They will view themselves as cultural producers who value the creation of work and their relation to clients and audiences. Students use fundamentals of advertising strategies—storyboarding design, sound design, art direction and video.


Drawing + Painting Studio I/II

COMD214/215      2 credits/2 credits

Students are introduced to materials and methods of drawing and painting, from traditional to conceptual visual thinking. Students learn that visual communicators use drawing as a means of ideation or decision-making. Special emphasis is given to drawing as a means for thinking, looking, making decisions, and training through thumbnails, sketching, roughs, and storyboards.


Experimental Typography

COMD 312    2 credits

Students investigate the denotative, connotative and conceptual potential of typography, by experimenting with letters, words and language. Students test the limits of typographic expression and expand the variety of creative strategies working in 2, 3 and 4D. They curate and edit their own content, experiment with the unfamiliar, and embrace ambiguity.


Type Design I

COMD313    2 credits

This course is an introduction to typography through a close look at the letterform and its construction. Through the presentation of historical references and the process of drawing and synthesizing signs, students develop an understanding of the relationship between calligraphy and typography, tool and structure, concept and craft.


Type Design II

COMD314    2 credits

This course offers a more detailed analysis and study of typographic design. Students are supported and encouraged as they seek to find their individual voice through personal history, everyday surroundings, or off-handed conceptualism.

Prerequisite: COMD 313 Type Design I


Image Making

COMD 323    2 credits

Images create visual allegory, messaging and storytelling. Students gain interpretive and technical skills to create meaningful images. Emphasis is on visual literacy and post-production. Short experiments focus on interpreting the content of existing images and lead to controlled content-based work. Weekly experiments build interpretive skills, followed by longer assignments.


Professional Practice

COMD354    2 credits

A required course for all majors in Communication Arts, has three components—traditional portfolio development, web-portfolio design, and career development specific to a major. Students leave this course prepared for an internship and/or employment. Lectures, demos, studio visits, visiting artists, and critiques, prepare students for working in advertising, illustration, and graphic design.



COMD 355    2 credits        

Students research a topic of choice and create a body of work on cultural, social and political issues. Students learn to understand alternatives to illustration and design as corporate service. Assignments include research and presentation on a relevant topic of choice; realization of visuals on chosen topic; and collaboration with community organizations when possible/applicable.

Print Lab / Lab Fee: $35


Sex and Gender in Communication Strategies

COMD353    2 credits

This course explores how the depiction of gender and sexuality contributes to varied communication strategies. Through studio work, lectures, research, and writing, students explore how sexually charged and gendered imagery shapes the way we understand and consume goods, information and pleasure. The class involves short and a long assignment addressing issues raised in class.


Design Lab

COMD361    2 credits

In weekly meetings students build formal and intellectual muscle in guided and free exercises like language games, free association, creative triggers, lateral thinking, mapping and experimental mayhem to arrive at unique and unexpected results. This elective is open to all majors.

Lab Fee $35


Introduction to Letterpress

COMD362    2 credits               

From metal type to digital plates, students experience the traditional disciplines of typography, letterpress, and printing while learning to integrate type and image, structure and content, process and product. Students work in the Lab Press, which boasts a large collection of wood and metal type, and Vandercook printing presses.


Bookmaking Projects

COMD 360    2 credits           

A culmination of the skills and techniques used in letterpress printing, typographic design, and edition bookmaking using both lead type and digital plate-making. Through model making and testing, students combine conceptual skills and printing technique in the bookwork tradition. Course assignments involve the integration of text and image, paper selection, inks and inking, color, serial imaging, surface preparation and press editions.


Visual Language

COMD364    2 credits

Students participate in a focused investigation, both historical and personal, of the links between visual motif and meaning. Coursework explores visual literacy and the use of traditional and experimental visual methodologies to illustrate and communicate while developing an effective personal style.



COMD365    2 credits        

This course introduces the skills, craft, materials, process and techniques used in making book structures and boxes. Students learn binding methods involving paper folding, cutting, sewing, gluing and other means of assembling individual sheets, signatures and text blocks with or without covers. This course may be repeated for credit up to two times.


Design Practice Research and Writing      

COMD369   2 credits

This course helps students develop useful and effective research tools and writing skills in their design practice. Through structured writing assignments, individualized research methodologies, discussions, written feedback from classmates, and presentations, students learn to convincingly communicate interests and decisions informing their work.



COMD 371    2 credits

This class focuses on team building, creativity/ innovation, risk taking, problem solving and overcoming inherent barriers and blocks to creativity. Through improvisational exercises and games in a safe environment, listening skills are improved that can lead to better communication and satisfying teamwork, presentation skills and production.


The Illustrated Book

COMD372    2 credits

An introduction to publication design, with a focus on children’s books. Working from selected texts, students develop a project from concept to completion: adapting a story, constructing a “dummy,” creating original images, integrating typography, and designing a book jacket, while exploring the role of the designer/illustrator as a visual storyteller.

Prerequisite: COMD218 Typography I


Advanced Letterpress

COMD373    2 credits        

For students that have taken Introduction to Letterpress and want to improve their expertise, the main objective is to achieve superior print quality and learn new techniques. The class covers the subtleties of handset type and the inking process including careful attention to make-ready, packing the press and adjusting roller height. Students learn how to print on dampened paper; how to make detailed, high quality photopolymer plates and alternative techniques such as pressure printing where prints are created from a low-relief collage attached to the tympan of the press.

Prerequisite: Introduction to Letterpress

For Book Arts minors, this course may be substituted with Bookmaking Projects.


Environmental Graphics

COMD381    2 credits

Students are introduced to site-specific three dimensional design systems, signage and applications for buildings, events, exhibits, and other spatial environments. Projects expand the students’ understanding of human factors, architectural scale, way-finding, materials, and methods for creating effective dimensional design.

Prerequisite: COMD218 Typography I


Information Design

COMD430    2 credits

Students are introduced to the concepts, techniques, and creative methodologies for applying a clear visual form to abstract concepts and ideas. An overview of historical and contemporary examples of information architecture informs assignments that employ visual thinking, resulting in “design for understanding.”

Prerequisite: COMD218/219 Typography I/II


Identity and Systems Design

COMD452    2 credits

Students learn how to create a visually distinct identity through structured and innovative methodology generating many ideas and designs in a short amount of time. They develop a rich visual language, the basis for a system that promotes an expansive development of the visual language beyond a logotype and its applications.

Prerequisite: COMD218/219 Typography I/II


EDG: Installation and Intervention

COMD 464    2 credits

This course explores Creative and innovative methodologies for engaging graphics and conceptual ideas in space. Students explore the environment with a critical eye through assignments that question customary design tools by exploring unconventional and multiple mediums, promoting the development of urban interventions, mediating time and space, and shaping  the immediate environment.


Ways of Thinking/Ways of Working (WOT/WOW)

COMD466    2 creditsFaculty work with students on project specific assignments. No two semesters are alike. Lectures, workshops, demos, and critiques give students exposure to practitioners who join the institution for brief and intense periods of time. In addition, the latest methodologies for working and conceptualizing are introduced.


Visual Narrative and Sequence I

COMD469    2 credits

This course is a focused introduction to the principles of storytelling, narrative structures, sequence, rhythm, audience, and point-of-view. Students learn tools and techniques of ideational sketching, thumbnails, and storyboards as means of communicating and developing visual ideas.


Advanced Image Making Projects

COMD468    2 credits

Students explore methodologies that foreground inspiration, motivation, intention, impression, interpretation, decision, consequence, analogy, chance, coincidence, predictability, message, ambiguity, literacy, manipulation, privacy, intimacy, memory, subjectivity and media in the process of image making. Students learn to integrate and discern levels of communication in and through their own and other’s processes.


Web Presence

COMD 477    2 credits

Covers the conceptualization, planning, organization, design and production of each student’s portfolio website. Students examine various approaches and review available technologies to determine which are the most appropriate. A basic understanding of HTML, CSS and Adobe Dreamweaver is critical.


Web Design I

COMD478    2 credits

This course explores the concepts and structures of online communications, as an extended communications medium with applications for businesses, education entertainment, and advertising. Discussion and individual and team assignments address navigational structures, systems, identity, audience and intent in the design of Web site prototypes. Practical questions are also explored.


Digital Innovation: Web Design II

COMD479    2 credits

This course offers a more in-depth look into Web site design and the future of this ever-evolving medium. Students will analyze existing sites; explore and experiment with formal and conceptual development that is unique, personal, and innovative.



COMD482    2 credits

This course assists students in researching the perfect internship. Using a mentorship principle, faculty are available throughout the internship to answer questions, troubleshoot, and ensure a quality experience in the professional world.

Prerequisite: Professional Practice in the major.


Entrepreneur 101

COMD483   2 credits

An intensive introduction to all facets of running a business—marketing, promotion, developing a client base, pricing, legal, ethical and financial aspects. Students learn best-business practices from: clients, an accountant, an attorney, a banker, and vendors. This course teaches students how to plan, establish, and sustain a meaningful studio, office, and/or agency. Recommended for ComArts graduating seniors.


Translation for Distribution

COMD485    2 credits

Design seniors work with a senior from another department, in the production of a publication as a document of the other person’s work. With the benefit of objectivity students  focus on the idea of designing as the attempt to translate the nature and intentions of the originary work; the specific possibilities and limitations of the situation, and approaches to distribution.


Contemporary Design Issues

COMD488   2 credits

This course is a total immersion into graphic design. Students examine critically important work and figures in a particular focus. Through lectures, a series of small making experiments, student presentations, and a larger final project, students examine how their personal interests and obsessions find a place in their work and the larger graphic design practice today. Continued research and understating is encouraged.


Independent Study

COMD999    1-6 credits

Independent studies provide students with an opportunity to extend their work on assignments that extend the scope of their current interests, or expand their expertise. Applications for independent study projects are reviewed and approved by the Department Chair based on proposals submitted by interested students.


Drawing and Painting for Illustration

ILUS310/311   2 credits/2 credits

Students refine their expressive and observational drawing, painting and composition skills, as they relate to illustration as a means of visual communication. Studio sessions encourage experimentation and improved technique, leading to the development of personal style.


Visual Storytelling               

ILUS330   2 credits

Course focuses on learning aspects of visual. Students do comic jams, arrange new stories using layouts from pre-existing comics panels, and draw the same short script in different ways using various storytelling approaches. The differences between narrative forms are explored. Lectures include case studies, universal structures and contemporary styles. Students make short books and comics using the techniques learned.


Comic Book

ILUS340    2 credits

Students learn to complete a finished eight-page mini-comic. They focus on writing and story structure, comics, storyboarding, screenwriting and children’s books. They learn how to become a great director. The focus is on point of view, angle, lighting, the composition of each panel and how to make those panels read together in an effective and compelling way.


The Politics of Color

ILUS341    2 credits

This course is an investigation of the potent symbolism of color and its relationship to visual communications. Assignments vary in complexity, media selection, technique, audience and application.


Off the Wall and Off the Page

ILUS343    2 credits

Illustrators are visual artists who are involved in events, products, installations along with traditional mediums such as original art, print and screen. The students have the opportunity to explore other areas of expression that are available to illustrators, to develop the goals and messages associated with these media and gage their success based on these goals.


Advancing Your Practice

ILUS352    2 credits

Three-hour seminar for advanced students who will discuss ideas of a personal practice through viewing each other’s work. The seminar class covers timely issues and topics relating to cultural production, emphasizes group discussion and student participation including readings, lectures, screenings, and field trips. The class aims to expand student’s understandings and perspectives of communication by placing them into broad artistic, social, political, and geographical contexts and thereby expand students’ individual practice.


Alternative Materials and Procedures for Illustrators

ILUS353    2 credits

Course focuses on the use of mixed media and alternative materials for image construction. The class explores the “use values” of different mediums and how they effect communication. Some materials explored are graphite, paint, paper collage, cloth, digital collage, transfers, oil bars, duct tape, resin, inks, wax, etc. Exploring and experimenting with different combinations of materials is encouraged.


Editorial Illustration /Visual Translators

ILUS357    2 credits

Editorial illustration gives opportunities to solve diverse conceptual problems. Publications rely on images to illuminate articles. Editorial assignments call for clear visual ideas in response to a written text. Assignments range from political and social to environmental issues. Through each assignment, students begin to develop a keener awareness of how to translate a text.


Experimental Printmaking

ILUS355    2 credits            

An opportunity for formal application and experimentation through alternative printmaking processes. Emphasis is placed on problem-solving through process, substance, and style. Students consider content, subject, and formal attributes of independently proposed projects. Readings, discussions, and lectures will address relevant topics such as multiplicity, historical predecessors, and critique.


Special Topics: Oil Painting

ILUS358    2 credits

Students are introduced to traditional and contemporary painting approaches and concepts, with emphasis on its formal language and the fundamentals of artistic expression. It helps prepare students for the field of illustration. Painting from observation and from imagination in conjunction with reference materials and various other painting methods along with an historical context are introduced.


Image Development and Creation          

ILUS 359    2 credits

This intermediate course develops conceptual strategies available to visual artists, establishing a professional relationship between text, idea, and image. Creative approaches in terms of content, execution, chance-taking, personal voice, and future market places are stressed. Portfolio level projects are assigned focusing on idea creation, strengthening concepts, experimentation, and appropriate execution strategies.


Illustration Concepts: The Power of the Story

ILUS457   2 credits

This intensive studio is designed to strengthen critical problem solving and imaginative skills, concept development, character design, staging development, and techniques, with an emphasis on, and analysis of drawing skills. Projects involve innovative image making, from preliminary sketches to developed solutions, using a variety of media.


Independent Study

ILUS999    1-6 credits

Independent studies provide an opportunity for students to work closely and collaboratively with communication arts faculty on assignments that extend the scope of their current interests, or expand their expertise. Applications for independent study projects are reviewed and approved by the Department Chair based on proposals submitted by interested students.


One over One   

PRNT245    2 credits

1/1 is a classic method of describing a print that does not exist in an edition. Exploring how unique prints are made is the focus. Students use the matrix to create singular images that act alone or as part of larger whole, synthesizing individual and collaborative projects. Techniques such as silkscreen, monotype, and collograph, are used, as well as home printing methods such as plaster, gelatin, trace transfers, automobiles, and sun.


Printmaking I        

PRNT267   3 credits       

A basic printmaking course introduces methods, such as monoprint, relief, intaglio, silkscreen and lithography as well as various approaches to making and printing plates in each medium. Through individual and collaborative projects students learn to produce editions, wallpaper, and installations. Students gain an understanding of the historical and contemporary printmaking.

Lab Fee: $35


Printmaking II  

PRNT270   3 credits     

An advanced course offers the opportunity to work intensively on individual projects using the multiple. Students learn to develop all stages of the multiple using the print method best suited for their work conceptually and technically. Emphasis is on development of personal imagery and exploration of the media.

Prerequisite: PRNT 267 Printmaking I or equivalent experience is required.

Lab Fee: $35


Printmaking III

PRNT370    2 credits

Students refine their vision in advanced projects developed with an emphasis on practice and critical dialogue. Visits to local printmaking presses, artists and print exhibitions throughout the semester explore the role of the print as a historical and contemporary medium, and the significance of the multiple in contemporary art.

Prerequisite: PRNT 267 Printmaking I or equivalent experience is required.

Lab Fee: $35