Professor Valora Bliss began teaching art classes in 1919 as part of NNU's domestic science and art programs. From the beginning of the school’s history, painting and drawing were considered essential to the curriculum and combined with the "practical" sciences of cooking and sewing. The development of an independent Art Department began in 1942 when Arnold Finkbeiner joined the faculty and worked on creating a department specifically dedicated to the exploration of artistic design and the development of highly trained young artists. This is a recurring theme in the University’s history—professors passionate about education affecting transformation in the life of the school and its students.

Today, the department has grown to include several major areas of study: graphic design, studio art and art education. Students have the opportunity to experience everything from letterpress and screenprinting to high-end web and interactive design and have exclusive access to 9 different creative studios on campus, including a ceramics building, photographic darkrooms and a high-end computer design laboratory. Relevant, practical curriculum and accomplished, talented faculty make NNU’s graphic design major a premier program.

The effect of this growth is not stopping at the classroom level, as NNU’s program is making an impression in the design world through the skills of its graduates. Students are graduating and getting phenomenal jobs working for brands such as the Seattle Seahawks, Disney, ABC, Brooks Running, Nike and Carhartt, as well as a variety of top design studios and agencies. Graduates from NNU’s graphic design program are being recognized at regional portfolio reviews and in publications such as British Vogue, and are preferred by multiple design studios over graduates from larger state universities and private competitor programs.   

Are you interested in exploring a degree in graphic design, studio art or another one of our art majors at NNU? Fill out an information request today and find out why you will love your education at Northwest Nazarene University. You can also visit our Department of Art & Design webpages here.

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