Graphic Design

Study Graphic Design in Auckland at Whitecliffe, New Zealand's leading arts and design school.

Whitecliffe Graphic Design graduates are thinking practitioners with an understanding of both contemporary practice and traditional mythologies of the sphere of Graphic Design. Their broad technical skills mean they are well equipped to explore and articulate a diverse range of visual outcomes for design projects, making them highly sought after by the industry.

Programme Overview

The Whitecliffe programme prepares students for a life-long career in Graphic Design, an industry that offers a broad range of creative and commercial possibilities.Your favourite magazine, beautiful books, functional maps and signage systems, movie credits, the latest company brands and packaging - everywhere you turn, you see the work of a graphic designer.

Our students explore how to communicate visual messages to the world - to use their conceptual and visual skills to inform, persuade and educate. Whitecliffe students graduate with a broad range of technical skills, creative ability, commercial awareness and historical perspective. So they are well equipped to explore and articulate a diverse range of visual outcomes for design projects, making them highly sought after by the industry.

The Whitecliffe curriculum gives students a well-rounded understanding of the (at least) century-old, and ever-changing field of graphic design. Students explore all technologies, software and content development needed to produce projects across print and digital media.


Click on the image below to view or download the BFA GRAPHIC DESIGN prospectus




at bottom of this page 


For a personal tour or for any queries

Open Day 2019

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Life After BFA Graphic Design

Employment opportunities abound because of the ever-increasing scope of the Graphic Design industry. Links to industry develop through guest lecturers and an internship in a commercial environment, such as a publishing house or design studio.

Students are also encouraged to do freelance work, organise their own exhibitions and enter competitions. Graduates find work with local and international firms across a range of possible work environments. Graphic designers often work in small boutique firms of two to 10 people, but there are also a number of large design studios with over 30 employees. Many businesses employ graphic designers for in-house design roles. There are also a growing number of freelance opportunities for entrepreneurial designers who prefer the flexibility of self-employment.

Graphic design is a vital industry in New Zealand and overseas. It is increasingly important for companies and organisations to communicate clearly and engage with an audience across print, web and interactive media. The field also continues to grow with developments in branding, interactive design and design management.

Graphic design skills are used in many areas of design and industry – anything that needs to be communicated visually can be created by a graphic designer. Some graphic designers specialise in a particular skill, such as typeface or publication design, whilst others may bring a strategic understanding of complex public projects, such as company identity design.

BFA Year One

In Semester One  students begin by engaging in a broad range of art and design projects that introduce them to the fundamental processes, theories and practice of being a tertiary level visual-art student. Students are guided through structured projects and examine the process of drawing, art making and design within the compulsory courses: 5101 Drawing, 5102 Design, 5103 Materials & Processes, before starting their specialism in the second semester.

Students also participate in intensive week-long workshops that enable them to collaborate in teams and/or work independently to produce collective creative outcomes. Workshop projects may include co-producing a graphic novel, a short film/video, tikanga Māori and harakeke weaving techniques.

In Semester Two

Graphic Design students engage in projects that introduce them to the fundamental processes, history, mythologies and practices of graphic design studentship.

Students will be required to complete the specialist Graphic Design course: 5400 Studio Practice Graphic Design throughout the second semester. The course is considered fundamental to graphic design practice and will include a balance of contemporary and traditional skills and knowledge. For example, the course content may include the following: image design, design methods, print media, typography, publication design, web and user interaction design.

BFA Year Two

Students continue to develop their design skills by engaging with increasingly specialised conventional areas of graphic design, including publication design, identity design, information graphics and web design. Students also explore both traditional and contemporary techniques and technologies needed to materially realise their ideas.

Studio Research assignments, projects and/or workshops are mainly lecture-initiated but largely student-directed and are based around a series of in-depth, Graphic Design topics that support students to evaluate complex issues and discuss critical frameworks relevant to contemporary practice.

Entrepreneurship I also provides an opportunity for Year Two students to apply their creative, practical and theoretical knowledge with an introduction to small business start-ups, marketing and public relations that lead to more integrated and substantiated studio research projects and prepare students for their careers beyond completing their degree.

BFA Year Three

At the successful conclusion of Year Three students will achieve their Bachelor of Fine Arts.

The focus of Year Three is for students to create a body of work, or a series of projects that are relevant to contemporary graphic design. Together the projects enable students to reflect on and propose their own individual area of inquiry. In the second half of the year this culminates in students proposing their own self-directed project. These projects may be a mix of conventional graphic design industry projects like website, magazine or identity design, or they may produce something more speculative such as typeface design or engaging in self-publishing.

BFA Honours (Year Four)

Whitecliffe BFA graduates are industry-ready at the end of their three-year degree. 

Included in the suite of Whitecliffe post-graduate programmes, Whitecliffe offers an additional one year, stand-alone BFA Honours qualification, directly following on from the BFA degree, with places available by application only. Its purpose is to consolidate the learning and achievements of the BFA through the realisation of a sustained practice-based, studio-centred, research inquiry and to further prepare students for professional life as creative practitioners or for ongoing postgraduate study.

Graphic Design Honours students engage in the development of a year-long body of work that allows them to fully explore a self-proposed, individual area of inquiry into the rich visual culture of Graphic Design.

Attainment of this qualification allows for a five-year pathway to Masters degree completion for those students interested in further academic study. 


Applications for the February BFA intake close on 31 October of the previous year. (Late applications will be considered)


Read more student and graduate stories here

Caroline Konarkowska

"I felt incredibly supported by the lecturers who consistently go the extra mile. They not only teach you, but give you the tools to teach yourself. Whitecliffe was a life-changing experience, that left me well-equipped to be doing what I do today. Further than technical skills, Whitecliffe taught me how to be curious."

Caroline Konarkowska

Graphic Design

Paul Phanoulas

"The Graphic Design department at Whitecliffe really lets you explore the side of the industry that interests you as a designer. The lecturers were exceptionally supportive of my exploring uncharted territories, providing insights and support along the way. In the final year, they still provide direction but almost take a back seat and let you find your own feet so you learn to keep control and mark your own space as a designer."

Paul Phanoulas

Graphic Design