Students at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD) come from all corners of the world to imagine, innovate, create and prepare for a career as a professional artist or designer. Students choose from five Bachelor of Fine Arts majors: Communication Design, Illustration, Interior Architecture and Design, New Studio Practice: Fine Arts and Product Design.
The First-Year Experience (FYE) nurtures growth and individuality of each artist and designer. It challenges students to ask deeper questions about the nature of visual culture, art, design, technology, media, materials, influences and process. In FYE studio courses, students are immersed in making in two, three and four dimensions. Students also meet professionals in the majors and learn digital technologies that are essential for today’s creative marketplace.
As future designers, art directors or creative directors in an ever-changing global community, students create work that informs and educates in new and inspiring ways. Communication Design students study typography, advertising, packaging and web design and a range of technologies to prepare them to communicate ideas in a variety of media, while also building presentation and collaboration skills. Students apply this knowledge on projects to build their professional portfolio through specialized electives, and work in design internships in Milwaukee and beyond. MIAD’s program is recognized as one of the top graphic design programs in the country by Graphic Design USA magazine.
MIAD’s Illustration program prepares students to be a professional illustrator by teaching the language of visual communication with an emphasis on creative problem solving. Students work in a variety of media, from traditional to digital and motion graphics, to create a personal style that distinguishes their work. Students build a professional portfolio and develop strong design skills while learning to properly prepare work for publication in multiple formats. Students gain real-world experience by working with professional clients and making professional connections through courses like MIAD’s Illustration Seminar.
Interior Architecture and Design
MIAD’s Interior Architecture and Design program is built on the premise that the composition, articulation, and finishing and furnishing of spaces affect people in deep, meaningful ways. Designers conceptualize, develop and communicate ideas for space that touch the body and engage the mind. Throughout the program, students develop the ability to solve spatial problems with solutions that embody both experiential and practical concerns. Real-world projects, with work ranging from computer modeling to built space, allow students to translate their vision and develop a professional portfolio. Graduates of the program work as commercial or residential interior designers, others work as interior architects, design/build professionals, furniture designers and product representatives.
New Studio Practice: Fine Arts
New Studio Practice: Fine Arts is a venue for contemporary creative thinking and making, grounded in the tradition of rigorous and committed studio practices, and enhanced by innovative approaches to marrying skill and concept in the creative world. Interdisciplinary exploration and integrated learning of fine art media — disciplines in drawing, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture and more — are supported by an increased emphasis on professional preparation and practice under the guidance of outstanding faculty mentoring and advising. Students apply learned knowledge to the creative world as a responsible art citizen and make visual work with a comprehensive understanding of how their creative identity relates to the world around them.
People, passion and innovation live at the core of MIAD’s Product Design program. Our designers tear down traditional barriers in order to see how we interface with products and processes. Product Designers ask questions and reimagine what people need. To find innovative solutions, students master creative tools and approach ideas from multiple perspectives: drawing and sketching to deepen understanding and activate ideas; conducting user research to uncover what people really need; engaging in design thinking strategies that open the mind to new possibilities; and of course, making prototypes and testing them for results. Students regularly collaborate on projects in the MIAD Innovation Center, earn awards in sponsored design competitions, patent their designs and land prestigious internships.
Artists and designers from different programs and backgrounds come together in Liberal Studies classes to explore new perspectives and unique interpretations. This collaboration is one of the interactions that makes MIAD a rich community of thinkers and makers who support each other’s work in academic and studio settings. Liberal studies includes courses in art history, the humanities, science and writing.
From studio minors to liberal studies to professional topics, MIAD minors widen worldview. Academic minors enrich student knowledge and customize students’ academic journeys. Minors also strengthen students’ problem-solving, communication, critical thinking skills and career preparation. Minors offered at MIAD include Arts Management, Book Arts, Digital Media Production, Furniture Design, Art History, Humanities, Sustainability and Writing. MIAD also offers additional minors in Advertising, Business, Copywriting and Psychology through a cross-registration program with Marquette University.
Beyond the Classroom
At MIAD, a vibrant array of sponsored and client partnerships, exhibitions, visiting professionals, field experiences, study abroad and off-site coursework provide opportunities to go beyond the traditional classroom. One experience unique to MIAD students is the annual Interior Architecture and Design cardboard shelters project. Students design and build cardboard shelters, and then sleep overnight in their shelters in Catalano Square, across the street from MIAD’s main academic building.
Collaborations with Businesses and Nonprofits
MIAD has a long-standing tradition of students designing products and campaigns through curricular projects sponsored by businesses and organizations such as Delta Faucet, Colectivo Coffee, Fiskars, Fromm Family PetFest, GM, Penfield Children’s Center, Trusted Media Brand magazines and 88Nine Radio Milwaukee.
Study Abroad and Travel Programs
Study abroad and travel programs provide students with unique opportunities to broaden their worldview, immerse themselves in another culture or environment and positively influence their work as designers and artists. One example: MIAD Illustration and Product Design students worked alongside scientists from the Carthage Institute of Paleontology in a fossil excavation partnership in Southeastern Montana. Each MIAD student recorded and illustrated discoveries in a field journal. MIAD students found a T-Rex tooth, uncovered the vertebra of a Triceratops from a surface collect and unearthed a 66 million-year-old turtle shell.
One of MIAD’s core values is Community, to positively contribute to the world around us. MIAD students make an impact in the Milwaukee community through volunteering thousands of hours at more than 200 area nonprofit organizations each year as part of the college’s Service Learning program. All students complete the Service Learning requirement.
The MIAD campus is a hub of creativity. It is an interactive, dynamic, breathing space where students learn and connect with peers through research, creation and discussion. MIAD’s campus — our main academic building and our residence hall — are located in Milwaukee’s vibrant Historic Third Ward. The main academic building is home to the MIAD Innovation Center, MIAD’s Galleries, the Emerging Technology Center, the 3D Lab (the largest woodshop in the state), among other labs and student studio spaces.
Emerging Technology Center
The Emerging Technology Center is where innovative thinking and independent inquiry converge enabling students to successfully navigate a world of rapid technological change. Students can explore new digital technologies — from rapid prototyping and laser cutting to virtual reality and augmented reality technologies and more — that they can immediately test and apply to their practice, regardless of discipline or area of study.
3D and Sculpture Lab
MIAD’s 3D and Sculpture lab space boasts approximately 20,000 square feet of workable space for students in all disciplines to work and create. The lab supplies the needed machinery and technology for working in wood, metal, plastics, vacuum forming, model building, bronze casting, ceramics, clay and much more.
MIAD Innovation Center
The MIAD Innovation Center is a space for students and community members to engage in entrepreneurial and innovative thinking; to challenge MIAD students’ individual interests; support academic programming; and connect students with professional projects for Milwaukee businesses, nonprofits and entrepreneurs.
Two50Two Residence Hall
MIAD’s residence hall Two50Two is conveniently located across the street from MIAD’s main academic building. Two50Two is much more than luxury apartment- style suites where students study and sleep. Our residence hall provides opportunities for students to get involved in campus activities and social groups, take on leadership roles within the community, meet new people and immerse themselves in the thriving art and design district of Milwaukee.
MIAD Senior Exhibition
The MIAD Senior Exhibition is the culminating experience of a MIAD education and showcases the work of emerging creative professionals representing MIAD’s Bachelor of Fine Arts majors and minors. The MIAD Senior Exhibition is the largest exhibition of its kind in Wisconsin.
Life after MIAD
MIAD graduates are individuals whose passions have become lifelong careers. MIAD alumni are employed in every facet of visual art and design. Nearly 30 percent of MIAD graduates own their own businesses; many begin freelancing before graduation. MIAD graduates work for employers such as Engberg Anderson Architects, Kohl’s Corporation, GE Healthcare, Google, Hanson Dodge Creative, Laughlin Constable, the Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee Tool, Nike and Pokémon.