Graphic Design Workshop

By Christine Melvin

On October 23rd, GVSU Advertising Club hosted their second annual Graphic Design workshop. Chris Fredricks, Visiting Professor of Graphic Design, led this years workshop. The event was focused on better understanding design, and how to talk about design. Fredricks started his talk with a rather bold statement, Design is Everything. He made it clear that he did not mean design was a part of the final product, or even a big part of it. He meant that it is every single part of the project. An app, website, poster, etc. could have incredible content on it, but if it is designed poorly, you are not going to be as trusting in it, or have as much interest in it in general.


Within design, there are several different fields. Fredricks talked through the basics of a few of these, including logo design, branding, and User Experience (UX) design. Each field has specific rules that should be followed. For example, when designing a logo, you need to focus on how this one mark will look across several platforms, whereas when designing a poster, it’s important to pay attention to hierarchy, and quickly grabbing someones attention.

Creative suite, Photoshop,, Illustrator, InDesign and more are all used in graphic design

Fredricks then talked us through his proposed process for designing everything. As someone who’s been working in the design field for over a decade, he’s picked up on some key parts of each process. The steps to follow were:

  1. Define the problem
  2. Know your audience
  3. Know your focus
  4. Keep it simple
  5. Make it intuitive
  6. Use visual design to accomplish this
  7. Keep it consistent

The steps of this process are relevant to any type of design, whether it be UX, poster, logo, etc.


Fredricks then led the group in a poster redesign workshop. He chose a poster off the wall from a building on campus and dissected it for the group. A common problem with posters is that there is too much information forced onto them. It is hard to properly organize a poster that follows the elements of design if there’s too much going on.


As he went through the poster, Fredricks walked the group through the three biggest programs in the Adobe Creative Suite, Photoshop, Illustrator, and Indesign, along with introducing us to unsplash, a website that can be used to find stock free images. After using unsplash to find an image, Photoshop was used to edit the image. Once the image was edited, it was brought into illustrator where the poster was ultimately created. As we were creating the posters, Fredricks touched on the visual principles of design, which are always top of mind as a designer is creating something.
To take more (free) classes on branding from Chris, click here. You can find him on instagram at or @growupawesome.

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