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Integrating fine arts and liberal arts

Spark group photo

2021 grad Annie Wheeler (front, center) landed a job at Spark DSG before she graduated. She has since been promoted to senior UX/UI designer and is the youngest senior designer Spark has ever had.

An Augustana liberal arts education introduces students to the world of ideas, and gives them the tools to explore that world. As an artist or graphic designer, you’ll have the best background and raw material for your original ideas, allowing you to create anything out of your own curiosity and chosen media.

You can major or minor in studio art or graphic design, or choose the art education specialist program if you want to teach art in secondary schools.

Studio art majors focus in one of seven areas: ceramics, drawing, painting, photography, sculpture, fibers or printmaking. Some double-major in such areas as art history, multimedia journalism and mass communication, psychology, biology, education or business.

Graphic design majors begin with study of typography and design in both digital and analog contexts, continuing through digital illustration, 3-D modeling and animation. You’ll have opportunities to join courses that are experimental studio environments focusing on current topics in the profession, and the role design plays in shaping culture.

A faculty advisor will work with you to integrate your experience, including art-related internships, toward future goals. That often means preparing for graduate school or a career in art administration or education, art therapy, medical illustration or museum work or with a design agency.

All throughout, you’ll work closely with professors and other students in small classes and studios. Building your own design rationale and style, you’ll complete a body of work to present in a senior exhibition, and for your portfolio for employers or graduate schools as proof of your versatile skills and creative thinking.

What you'll learn

Creative thinking

Creative thinking

Combine ideas to create something new. Use imaginative ways of solving problems.

Disciplinary knowledge

Disciplinary knowledge

Gain a deep understanding of your subject and how it connects to other subjects.

Intellectual curiosity

Intellectual curiosity

Set yourself up for lifelong intellectual growth. Take responsibility for your own learning.

Intercultural competence

Intercultural competence

Understand real and imaginary similarities and differences. Use more than one perspective to view issues.

Critical thinking and information literacy

Critical thinking and information literacy

Judge and construct arguments, raise questions and define problems. Make a conclusion based on evidence.


• Beginning classes have only 15-20 students, and upper-level courses are usually smaller. The close faculty-student relationship is especially important for hands-on work in studio art and graphic design. Students learn to express their own ideas and emotions through art, and at the same time learn about larger social and disciplinary contexts.

• The art department is housed in six buildings on campus with separate facilities for painting, fibers, 2D design, weaving, ceramics, sculpture, photography, drawing and wheel-throwing. The ceramics studio has a wood fired kiln and a rolling gas car kiln, high-quality kilns generally available only to graduate students.

• Art and graphic design majors also take art history courses, and draw from their liberal arts education (valuable background for every academic field). As a result, they develop both deeper perspective and broader awareness, fueling their creativity and originality. 

• Through traveling exhibitions and the extensive permanent collection in The Augustana Center for Visual Culture, students view works of art as primary texts for class discussion and research, and as inspiration for their own original work.

• Along with internship opportunities, art and art education majors can work as assistants for Augustana’s summer Kaleidoscope art classes for children and in local schools, gaining skills for their future careers. The Quad Cities also has different-sized commercial graphic design studios and companies for potential internships.

• Many Augustana study-abroad programs include an art component. Art and graphic design majors have joined Augustana programs in Ghana, Morocco, Senegal, The Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Japan, Italy, Greece and more. $2,000 with Augie Choice helps cover living and travel expenses.

Recent grads

Annie Wheeler '21 is a senior UX/UI designer at Spark DSG, based in Philadelphia.

Austin Elledge '20 is a graphic designer/animator for the National Football League in Los Angeles, Calif.

Monica Wierzbicki '18 is a medical illustrator and graphic artist at Body Scientific International in Chicago.

Comet Blecha '18 is the art director and senior designer at Present. in New York City.

Kelsey Kammerzelt '15 is the manager, project management, at Cendyn, based in Boca Raton, Fla.

Nicole Gomes
More Than I Imagined Nicole Gomes Pacheco
“I loved that I got to take classes in different areas that guided me through deciding which majors were my best fit.”
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Jack Harris
More Than I Imagined Jack Harris
“Coming into Augustana, I knew I wanted to pursue writing and design. Not a lot of colleges have that combination of degrees!”
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Brianna Jepson
More Than I Imagined Brianna Jepson
“My biggest influencer is my art advisor Megan Quinn; she has always helped me to achieve my goals and challenged me in the classroom.”
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Hannah Johnson

Johnson ’23 creates first model of prehistoric creature

When Hannah Johnson ‘23 learned of an opportunity to create the first model of a recently discovered prehistoric creature, she put her art and geology majors to work.

Keem and Caden

Roommates, teammates, business partners

Anyone who’s unsure of what a liberal arts experience can look like — meet Augustana’s Caden Foulke ’24 from Brentwood, Tenn., and Aykeem Spivey ’24 from Gurnee, Ill.

Haider Ali poster presentation

Students, faculty share new knowledge in Celebration of Learning

The breadth of a liberal arts education was on full display at the Augustana College Celebration of Learning, where students and faculty presented their academic work for the year.