Course Description

Project Lab is a series of online courses geared towards helping you build your skills as a graphic designer. These intermediate-level courses offer:

  • flexible learning options
  • no more than 20 students in a class
  • personalized feedback on your work every week
  • a digital certificate that demonstrates your accomplishment. 

Read our FAQ to learn more.

Course Description

Although the internet provides us with instantaneous, unlimited content, the printed publication offers us a curated material and tactile experience of content that the screen cannot replicate. This course in publication design offers an introduction to the practical and conceptual skills involved in the design of print publications. Through an iterative process, you will make and develop multiple idea-driven approaches to the design of a representative set of spreads for a proposed publication. Basic type setting skills will be further developed and refined by creating and developing typographic systems and structures that specifically relate and respond to the content of the publication.

Because visual literacy is also a key aspect of every graphic designer’s practice, we will build a collaborative library of visual references during this course. Every other week, you will be asked to find and document a publication you would like to share as a notable example of some aspect of publication design (exquisite refinement in type setting, inventive use of grid, inspiring type palette, clear relationship between idea and design decisions, etc). The final project, a content-driven publication design, is not an end in itself, but an artifact of a robust iterative process. In addition, to document the evolution of your project, you will make a process book that documents all research, presentations, homework, iteration, and final outcomes as well as a reflection/analysis of your own process. 

Please note this is a process-intensive course. You will be asked to submit work-in-progress and/or specific assignments every week for feedback from the instructor. Doing so will help you succeed in the course, and it will also make you a better designer. To learn design, you need to make design! Read our Online Course Readiness Guide for more information.

Learner Outcomes

  • Building typographic craft, including typesetting and refinement/detailing skills
  • Learning the fundamental vocabulary and technical terminology of publication design
  • Learning the fundamentals of creating and systematically using a type palette
  • Rehearsing the development and production of a proposal for a publication design
  • Exploring and building an iterative design process working that invests in inquiry and conceptual development, leaving the final outcome open-ended


  • It is strongly recommended that you complete CalArts’ course Introduction to Typography on Coursera prior to enrolling in this course.
  • Familiarity with print production/prepress, typographic refinement, and book structures (ie the book as physical / material object + binding) would be very helpful.
  • Open to artists aged 18 and up. 

This course is not available for enrollment at this time. Click "Request Information" to be notified when enrollment for the next section opens.