My First VIS Class at Princeton (Visual Arts)

February 14, 2024
Jodie De Jesus

This past fall semester of my junior year, I was able to take my first ever class in the Visual Arts (VIS, for short) Department. Two of my best friends at Princeton are pursuing the VIS certificate and always raved about their classes. As someone interested in the arts, I knew I just had to take at least one VIS course before I graduated.

Now, VIS classes are infamously known for being hard to get a spot in. They tend to be capped at only 10 to 12 students each in order to ensure an intimate learning environment. Luckily, I was able to snag a spot in VIS216: Graphic Design: Visual Form

Taught by Professor David Reinfurt, the course was absolutely everything I wanted and more. It was so refreshing to have a class that was hands-on and project-based, especially to balance out my very reading and writing-intensive curriculum for my concentration. 

One of my favorite assignments was when we were tasked with coming up with two new symbols that were meant to represent “stop” and “go.” We had to think outside of the box and figure out how we could communicate these definitions, without relying on the usual colors of red and green or the octagonal shape of a stop sign. I ultimately came up with the two symbols below:

two original graphic design symbols in black

Can you tell which is which? I hope so! I genuinely enjoyed creating these and seeing what else my peers came up with. Throughout the semester, we also got to learn the basics of using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, how to make animated GIFs, as well as how to present our ideas during class critiques. 

Our final project was to reimagine the recycling symbol and system. Over the course of four weeks or so, we each brainstormed solutions to the recycling crisis, graphically or otherwise. I especially appreciated how open the project prompt was because it didn’t tie us to any one medium. I ended up designing an incentivized app similar to Fetch, where you could scan a QR code on recyclables to earn points and redeem rewards! I was really excited about my idea, and during our final critique, Professor Reinfurt brought in several of his colleagues to listen to our presentations and offer us feedback. Their insight and advice were invaluable. 

Reflecting back now that the semester has ended, VIS216 was an incredible experience! Even though I wouldn’t consider myself to be the most artistically inclined person, I’m super grateful that I had the opportunity to take this class. I’d highly encourage anyone with even an inkling of interest in art to try a VIS course. The department is made up of renowned faculty, there are tons of facilities and resources available to students, and it’s ultimately fun to have a class that lets you think a little differently than classes for your concentration. Take advantage of all that VIS has to offer!