Speak UpA Former Division of UnderConsideration
The Archives, August 2002 – April 2009
advertise @ underconsideration
---Click here for full archive list or browse below
Design in Bloomfield Hills

Surrounded by nothing, Cranbrook Academy of Art sits in Bloomfield Hills, MI educating, in their own way, great designers (and other creative folk, but we’ll focus on designers) like if there was no tomorrow. Experimentation is expected, and not in the David Carson overlapping typography kind of way, but in way you think and create. Every student, and there are only twelve or so per class, has to come up with their own projects. There are no classes, no classrooms. The work is driven and formed by critiques from other students and the few artists in residence who serve the role of “teachers”.

Great people have headed the 2D Design program. Katherine McCoy, Laurie and P. Scott Makela and now Elliot Earls from Emigre fame, has the tough chore of doing just that. In an interview with Steven Heller appearing in Print Magazine Elliot says “This is not a program for someone more interested in social entanglements or drinking with the boys. Intensity is everything.” And rightly so, the results are always excellent.

I consider Cranbrook to be in the top three graduate programs in the US, and if I had to get a Masters Degree I would go there without a doubt.

Any insights on Graduate programs?

Maintained through our ADV @ UnderConsideration Program
ARCHIVE ID 1282 FILED UNDER Design Academics
PUBLISHED ON Oct.22.2002 BY Armin
Darrel’s comment is:

"Any insights on Graduate programs?"

From a purely career advancement standpoint, I'm not sure how much value a masters degree in design is. I think a masters in marketing/business/sociology would probably benefit the commercial graphic designer more. From personal growth/etc, then I think that'd be a great place to go.

On Oct.22.2002 at 11:16 AM
Armin’s comment is:

I have always debated if designers need to get a Masters or not. If I were to get one, I would do it later in my career to sort of freshen up and see what the wild kids are doing. Get a shot in the butt.

And if money is what you want, a Masters can add up to 5-10k extra a year. Is this true? or am I just making it up?

On Oct.22.2002 at 04:13 PM
Darrel’s comment is:

"And if money is what you want, a Masters can add up to 5-10k extra a year. Is this true? or am I just making it up?"

Well, I've never been with a firm that would care if you had a masters in art or not. They may very well care if you had a masters in marketing or some other tangental business subject, though.

On Oct.22.2002 at 05:29 PM
Jon’s comment is:

I've always figured a Master's would be great if I wanted to teach design. Otherwise, no design firm is going to really care. I'd agree with Darrel that knowledge of other fields would definitely be looked kindly upon by future employers.

On Oct.22.2002 at 09:09 PM
Jose Luis’s comment is:

We had a production artist and a receptionist at this firm both with master degrees, not design but fine arts and film respectively.

My point being that a master in the arts is an intangible that doesnt necessarily translates to career advancement.

On the other side if I had the time and money I wouldn't mind joining a nice program such as the one offered at Cranbrook. After all who woudln't want to spend their day doing all that crazy fun stuff, not to mention that two of my current favorites Owens and Corbitt are Cranbrook alumni as well.

On Oct.23.2002 at 01:44 AM
mark ’s comment is:

I am currently in a masters program in gd and it has been a wonderful decision. It allows you to teach and work anywhere. I would think studios would be more inclined in hiring mfa designers because they have shown a serious commitment to design and have taken time to critically analyze process, form, conceptual, and all the things you would not have time to think about in the office. It isnt for everybody I guess. Anyways there isnt really anything exciting happening in graphic design anymore. Everyone is recycling everybody elses ideas. Cranbrooks work is very formal. It is hard to decipher what work at cranbrook is saying. Is gd suppose to be communicating something? Isnt it quite selfish to strictly make work that you only understand? It seems that work at cranbrook really work on a few levels. Maybe just one(formal farts). I would be wearisome of putting to much emphasis on the program at cranbrook. It is emotionally driven and that to me, seems unbalanced, and unpractical. Of course we need inspiration and maybe cranbrook is a place that does it. But what if you could inspire on all levels? Any other good masters programs?

On Feb.07.2003 at 09:24 PM
Nacho’s comment is:

My sister attended Cranbrook during the Makelas era. She told me that living there was like being in a design monastery, people worked all night and day non stop, trying to give sense to all the new theory and ideas they were getting as input.

As the only foreigner (mexican) of her generation, she felt she was treated different and had to battle with a lot the cultural misconceptions. I visited her two times and was very impressed with the intense atmosphere of the design lab, you could feel and see new ideas being created daily.

The Makelas were very friendly and helped their students economically by inviting them to participate in their professional projects so there was always a connection between the experimentation and the real world.

I'm really curious to hear from the current generation and their experiences with the current head of the 2-D program Elliot Peter Earls.

On Dec.01.2003 at 02:47 PM
Ryan ’s comment is:

Perhaps I can answer some questions you have.

I graduated from cranbrook 2 years ago, had 1 year of Laurie & 1 year of Elliott.

On Dec.13.2003 at 08:29 AM
graham’s comment is:

considering that american education (generally speaking) is about a step behind education at all levels in the rest of the world, i'd say that a post-graduate/masters course in art is almost essential. the more time to think and make in as pure, open and honest a way as possible, the better. an msc might be interesting as well-but never ever a business/marketing course. worthless waste of time.

one thing: a lot of the questions here about education tend to be of the 'where is an inspiring place?'/'what do they give me?'/'what can i get out of it?' variety. thats a really skewed way to look at it. what can you bring to a place? why should you be there? will you waste their time? will you waste your time? time-time and your peers. that is the best college can offer-and there is nothing better, nothing more necessary.

On Dec.14.2003 at 04:27 AM
Ryan’s comment is:

I don't think I would agree with the statements:

'considering that american education (generally speaking) is about a step behind education at all levels in the rest of the world'

I have done all of my studies in America, but now live and practice in Europe. My experience with design schools in Europe has never led me to believe American schools are 'a step behind'.

I know of many Europeans who have traveled to America specifically to study.


"where is an inspiring place?'/'what do they give me?'/'what can i get out of it?' variety. thats a really skewed way to look at it'

I agree that one should also consider one's place in a program, but all the top programs select candidates based on this criteria, i.e. how well the prospective student will fit in/what they can offer.

If one 'goes' to school to retain some sort of knowledge, experience, or tranformation then why is it so skewed to ask what you will end up with, where is it most inspiring?

On Dec.14.2003 at 07:50 AM
graham’s comment is:

the 'skewed' thing wasn't that clear-place (the environment one desires) is important if you have the privilege of choice, as is a good sense of the history of the college and therefore it's potential. but to 'expect' anything beyond the fact of 3 or 5 or however many years of hard work amongst a group of people who will be sharing similar experiences but probably not a similar ethos is only self-defeating. again, college 'gives' you time and a context, the students around you, but time most of all to find a voice, lose it, make work every day because of or in spite of the place and the people, but every day following or unravelling a thread, always changing, one piece of work at a time then another-time, only time. what will you end up with? apart from the certainty that we'll all die one day, how could you hope to know, and why would you want to?

On Dec.14.2003 at 11:19 AM
Armin’s comment is:

Graham, I think one can definitely expect different things from different programs. If I was considering a graduate program at Yale and a graduate program at Cranbrook I would very much like to know what they offer. I do agree with you that you must ask yourself what you bring to them. But it is essential that you know what to expect from different places. If, like you say, I am going to put 2,3-5 years worth of hard work I better be sure that the place I end up at will make the best of that effort.

On Dec.14.2003 at 02:36 PM