The MVA Studio creates original and effective graphic design through fast and easy collaboration.


class information

  • description: “This course covers large-scale projects in branding, publications, signage, mapping and identity systems, as well as working with outside professionals to explore real-world needs.”

  • schedule: January 23rd–May 13th / Monday/Wednesday / 6:30—9PM / RM 440

  • office hours: Mondays 9–9:30pm (or via video chat on appointment)

  • instructor: Joshua Hardisty / / 612-308-2279

instructor background

bio: Joshua Hardisty is a designer, author, educator, and occasional artist. He and his wife, Kimberlee Whaley, are principals of the MVA Studio, where they work with a small group of collaborators designing books, t-shirts, and posters for Compatriot Snowboards, éS Skateboarding, Mark Batty Publisher, MCAD, the Soap Factory, and others.

The MVA’s work has been published in the best-selling design books “Hand Job: A Catalog of Type” and “Pulled: A Catalog of Screen Printing”, both by Mike Perry for Princeton Architectural Press. Their design for the book “DIY Album Art: Paper Bags and Office Supplies” was named one of 2010’s 50 best designed books by AIGA. Hardisty is also the author of three books about design and visual culture, including “New Skateboard Graphics” and “Function, Restraint & Subversion in Typography”. 


class micro-site: Students should check this site updated class information, briefs and supporting documents.

blackboard: Students should check course Blackboard sites frequently for updated class information. E-mail will be used for official communications outside of scheduled class times.

email: Email is used by college/administrative offices as the official means of communicating with the student body. Official college announcements regarding policy, classes, registration, deadlines, etc. are delivered via email. Students are expected to check their MCAD email frequently and are held responsible for all official information communicated to them via the email system. Misuse or misrepresentation of official communications by students will result in disciplinary action.

cell phone usage: Cell phones should be put on mute or vibrate during class. Calls can be made during breaks, as well as before or after class.

objectives: The goal of this course is three-fold: 1. Identify gaps in your portfolio between what you hope it to be and what it currently is and create the work to fill that gap; 2. Identify weaknesses in your typography that you believe are hindering your progress and focus on developing the skills to counter those weaknesses; 3. Identify weaknesses and/or stagnation in your creative process and develope new methods of ideation in order to expand your toolbox of “ways to get things done on time and excellently.”

methodology: Each class will be a mixture of in-class workshops, critique, presentations, and discussion. 

Critique: We will only have traditional group critiques to review final projects. These critiques will be modeled after thesis defense meetings. You will be expected to present your work and defend it (without getting defensive).

Homework: MCAD guidelines say to expect a minimum of 4.5–5 hours to out-of-class work. This is probably the bare minium you could expect to do and pass and, more importantly, to progress as a designer.

Deadlines: The ability to meet deadlines is especially crucial in design (and, yes, virtually all work but let’s focus on our micro-world here). We often have to turn our work over to various other parties (proofreaders, printers, mailing houses, development teams) and each day that we are late is like a vise tightening around our collaborators.

Project documentation: Before every presentation save an Interactive PDF in the shared Dropbox folder. Settings: 72-108 PPI / High-Quality images.


Notebook: Something convenient to capture feedback in during critiques, presentations and discussions. I highly recommend carrying around a pocket-sized Moleskin cahier notebook. They come in packs of three, they’re nice but not so nice that you can’t beat them up or jot down the occasional grocery list, and they easily fit in your back pocket.  

FSI (frequently shared interruption): “But I use Evernote / TextEdit / Word / Pages / Notes to capture things…” There are many times where typing notes isn’t possible but writing them down is. Also, I hate hearing typing when I’m talking to an audience. I assume others feel the same way.

In reality, the notebook thing is about more than just making sure you don’t forget things in class. There are always ideas, names, references and relevant information floating around (especially in the extended conversation that is a critique) and you will not remember the really killer ones. Its a great idea to get in the practice of “ubiquitous capture” (per the cult of Getting Things Done).

I’m going to put more emphasis on feedback capture in this class than I have in the past. It forces us to slow down as we speak in order for our thoughts to be captured, to have a record if we need to return to a discussion and point, and when we begin to work as paid designers its the hallmark of a professional who respects others’ time.

This is a requirement but I will not be evaluating your notebook. That said, if we’re having a discussion about last week’s critique and you don’t have any notes, well, I may change my mind about not evaluating them.

credit hour definition: In lecture/discussion courses requiring outside preparation, 1 hour of credit represents 50 minutes contact time each week in class, and 2 hours of work outside of class. Therefore, a 3-credit lecture course requires 2.5 hours in class per week and approximately 6 hours outside of class.

In studio/laboratory courses, 1 hour of credit requires a minimum of 1.5 hours contact hours each week in class and approximately 1.5 hours of work outside of class. Therefore, a 3-credit studio course represents a minimum of 4.5 contact hours in class and approximately 4.5 hours of work outside of class per week.

In online courses, 1 hour of credit requires approximately 3 hours of work per week for all activities (i.e., reading, viewing, making, scanning, responding to discussion threads, collaborating, etc.). Therefore, a 3-credit online course requires approximately 9 hours per week to complete the necessary activities.

student professional responsibilities: The classroom can always provide an opportunity for professional development. Think about class as a job interview.

attendance: The following is MCAD’s attendance policy:  MCAD requires high levels of attendance in classes. Full participation is essential to the successful completion of class work and integral to the quality of the educational experience.

Attendance in classes is mandatory. There are no officially excused absences. For classes that meet twice week, four absences will result in the loss of one full letter grade. Two additional absences will result in the loss of one half of a letter grade. Repeated tardiness will result in the loss of a letter grade. 

Note: Students will not be penalized for absences due to religious observance. However, students must inform the instructor at the beginning of the semester of specific dates or times of these conflicts.

classroom laptop usage policy: Participation in a classroom community has many benefits, but students will also find that along with those benefits come responsibilities:

  • Students are responsible for bringing laptops to class when scheduled to do so.

  • Student laptops should be in good working condition. If a student is experiencing problems with a laptop, it is the student’s responsibility to go to Computer Support for help. Technical difficulties such a problems printing, uploading, saving, or retrieving files do not excuse late or missing work.

  • During classroom discussion, demonstration, or lecture, students should not be connected to network resources unless students are specifically instructed to do so.

  • Chatting, using social media, or emailing is no more acceptable than talking on a cell phone during class time. Non-class related use of a laptop during class time, including working on homework for other courses, may result in restriction of laptop use or a grade penalty.

  • Unless otherwise indicated, students should never use headphones during class time.

  • Students should always store copies of files in two backup locations. Students should never store the only copy of a paper/project on the student server space in case the server is down, and students are unable to access the paper/project.

Grading and academics

grading policy: Grades at MCAD are based primarily on the quality of outcomes. Grades consider student’s performance of assignments listed on each course syllabus, participation in class, magnitude of improvement, attendance, level of project difficulty, timeliness of project completion, compliance with class policies, and effort/dedication.

  • A  Excellent work, progress far beyond expectations of effort and outcomes, and full class participation.

  • B Good work, completion of course requirements and preparedness for the
    more advanced study or next course in a sequence.

  • C Average work, completion of course requirements and preparedness for the more advanced study or next course in a sequence.

  • D Passing but below average work, some promise of improvement if the class were repeated.

  • F Work not acceptable or not enough course requirements completed to receive a passing grade.

Plus and minus notations on letter grades indicate which side of the grade spectrum work and performance falls, whether above the assigned letter grade but short of the next higher one; or short of the assigned letter grade and at risk of falling to the next lower one.

academic deficiencies: MCAD notifies students of deficiencies in academic performance throughout the semester. Notices are placed in student mailboxes. Students are encouraged to contact the faculty member immediately and take steps to remedy the deficiency.

If a student has two or more deficiencies at mid-semester the student will be contacted by the Dean of Student Affairs. A subsequent meeting will be scheduled to help the student analyze the problem and make realistic plans to remedy the situation and succeed in school.

midterm grade notification: All students will receive from their faculty member notification of current standing at the midpoint of the semester.

academic integrity/scholastic dishonesty: Academic integrity is essential to a positive teaching and learning environment. All students enrolled in MCAD courses are expected to complete coursework responsibilities with fairness and honesty. Failure to do so by seeking unfair advantage over others or misrepresenting someone else’s work as your own can result in disciplinary action. 

The MCAD Student Handbook defines academic dishonesty as follows: Submission of false records of academic achievement; cheating on assignments or examinations; altering, forging or misusing a College academic record, document or funds; taking, acquiring or using test materials without faculty permission; acting alone or in cooperation with another to falsify records to obtain grades, honors, awards or professional endorsement in a dishonest manner; plagiarizing.

  • Plagiarizing: Quoting uncited materials, visual or written; presenting the work of others as your own; using work of other MCAD students without their express permission.

  • Using the Same Work in Different Courses: Students may not submit the same work for more than one class without the knowledge and consent of all instructors.

    Consequences for plagiarizing and double submissions may include failing the assignment or the course, or academic probation.

Within this course, a student who is responsible for scholastic dishonesty can be assigned a penalty up to an including an “F” for the course. If students have any questions regarding the expectations for a specific assignment or exam, they should consult with their professor 

Using the same assignment in different courses: Studio projects are assigned and assessed according to the specific learning objectives for each course. Occasionally students may be assigned a project in one course that shares many of the learning objectives of an assignment given in a different course. While turning in the same assignment for two courses is not encouraged, students who wish to do so are required to first notify the faculty member of each course and get permission. Faculty may assign additional requirements. Failure to notify faculty can result in failure of the assignments in both courses.


learning disability accommodation: Any student with a registered Learning Disability can choose to seek accommodations for his/her courses. At MCAD, all students who are seeking accommodations are required to meet with the Learning Center Director to formalize this process. Accommodations are decided on an individual, case-by-case basis by faculty, the Learning Center Director, and the Vice President of Student Affairs.

Depending on need, students may be eligible to receive some or all of the following services: recorded texts, notetaker, extended test time, distraction-free testing, etc. For more information about these services, please contact the Learning Center Director. Students can access a wide variety of online tutorials at using their MCAD login information: 


archiving your work: All students must turn in images of their work from each class every semester. The image format should follow MCAD archiving standards, which are found at: 

Images should be accompanied by a Word document containing relevant information, found at: 

typeface: Maple regular, 20 pixels, black