Program offers design specialty

Southeastern Louisiana University has a program dedicated to environmental design.

“Environmental design is retail signage, typography, motion and digital projection,” said Tasheka Arceneaux-Sutton, assistant professor of graphic design at SLU.

The Louisiana Board of Regents awarded a $92,000 grant with a $38,000 university match to SLU’s Department of Fine and Performing Arts Graphic Design program. The grant will allow for new equipment and software and software to assist graphic design students advance their abilities and hone their design skills.

“We were the only school in the state providing an environmental design course and now we’re the only one able to offer this specialized technology,” said Professor of Graphic Design Gary Keown. “This will give our students an edge and unique experience in graphic design.”

The new equipment includes 23 Mac Pro computers with 27-inch screens. The technology will also enhance other areas within graphic design including illustration, print, motion and web design. The featured equipment: a large format printer/cutter and a ShopBot CNC router.

“The wide-format printer prints in multiple colors, including white and metallic inks, plus it will cut the printed shapes from vinyl,” Keown said. “And the CNC ShopBot will cut through plywood, metal, plexiglass and plastic.”

“People in most design offices and studios don’t even have access to a product like this, so this is a real advancement,” Arceneaux-Sutton said. “I don’t think the students really understand yet the importance of what we’re getting.”

Environmental design is considered on of the top five most important disciplines in the growing graphic design profession.

“It’s futuristic,” Arceneaux-Sutton said. “It’s not about decoration, but about orienting people. It interacts with the environment to serve a function or a purpose.”

“Talent in this field is in high demand,” Keown said. “This is going to benefit a lot of students and bring a lot of good career opportunities.”