Thesis Guide


Richard Serra. Verb List. 1967–68. Graphite on paper, 2 sheets, each 10 x 8″ (25.4 × 20.3 cm).

Preparing for Design Thesis — Summer 2014

Think of your thesis as an independent study in design. The only requirement is that you identify a situation or idea you can address through design, and that you make work that is meaningful to an audience.

You can make your thesis work about any subject matter, problem or observation. Your work may take any form, as long as you use the methods of design to explore the material. You can make any kind of project that becomes public in some way. Means of making the work public include: web sites, publications, exhibitions, interventions, etc. Think about what you most want to make; weʼll help you figure out how to take it to an audience.

The following assignments are due for the first class meeting of Design Thesis in September 2014.

1. REQUIRED READING 2 Articles + 2 Books

Read these two articles:

Myth Today, Roland Barthes

Postmodernism and Consumer Society, Frederic Jameson

Purchase (or obtain from the library) and read these two books:

The Elements of Typographic Style — Robert Bringhurst

Grid Systems In Graphic Design — Josef Müller-Brockmann

2. LISTMAKING  Four Lists, 50 Items in Total

A. List ten words that you feel as though you enact when you make graphic design. These should be verbs. (see Serra verb list attached)

B. List ten independent projects you’d like to make, 1–2 sentences per project.

C. List ten object-scenarios / mediums you’d like to work with or are generally enamored by (ex. Magazine, Website, Short Film, Book, Video Game, Lawn Sign, Billboard, Interactive Projection, E-Book, Article of Clothing, Calendar, Toy, Data Visualization, Information Graphic, Typeface, etc., etc., etc.)

D. List five designers whose work you think relates to your own. List five artists whose work you think relates to your own. For each, choose a piece / work that exhibits this relationship & write 1–2 sentences about why you see a correlation.


Write and typeset an Artist’s Statement / Artist’s Bio. 200-300 words.


Please follow this blog on a daily basis. We’ll be posting inspiring events and exhibitions from the NY / NJ area. The ‘Always Go To’ and ‘Have A Look At’ sections are there to point the way towards interesting visits and experiences.

Enjoy your summer break!

Design Area, Visual Arts Department
Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University
May 2014