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Animation. Graphic Design. Game Art.

Visual Design Schools in Washington State

Written by Michelle BurtonSeptember 5, 2012
Did You Know.....Full Sail University offers online degree programs in computer animation, game art, and game design? Learn more about Full Sail University's online programs.
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A visual design program can help prepare you for a variety of positions in the advertising, film, publishing, motion design, web design, information design, film and video, and more. A typical program curriculum includes courses such as design fundamentals, drawing, digital foundations, typography, visual communication design, and more. In addition to classroom instruction, students will spend a significant amount of time in a studio setting, where they can create visual designs for the final portfolio. Students will have the opportunity to complete an internship program, which could lead to a position in the field. Fortunately, several schools in the State of Washington offer solid programs for aspiring visual designers, and all have excellent internship programs and job placement services.

Before we discuss Washington’s best options for aspiring visual designers, let’s take a look at the state’s art and culture scene along with a few fun facts about the great outdoors, business, and technology. First, Washington is home to a variety of art museums such as Seattle Art Museum and Frye Art Museum (Seattle), Tacoma Art Museum, Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture, and the Jundt Art Museum at Gonzaga University (Spokane). Next, Washington is home to some of the most recognizable brands in the world including Microsoft, Starbucks,, and Boeing. 

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Finally, the State of Washington may not be the sunniest, but it is one of the most beautiful places to live in the world. Washington is one of the nation’s greenest states, it has more glaciers than the other 47 contiguous states combined, and it is home to four of the five longest floating bridges in the world. They include: Evergreen Point Floating Bridge, Lacey V. Murrow Memorial Bridge and Homer M. Hadley Bridge over Lake Washington, and the Hood Canal Bridge connecting the Olympic and Kitsap Peninsulas.

Washington State Visual Design Schools

According to the most recent report by the National Center for Education Sciences, Institute of Education Sciences (NCES IES), Washington is home to 85 Title IV colleges and universities.

More than a dozen offer programs for artists and designers. Several standouts offer top-tier programs for aspiring visual designers. Continue reading to find out which schools are tops for aspiring visual designers and what they have to offer.

Cornish College of Arts - Degrees Offered: B. F. A. with Concentration in Video Art; B. F. A. Design with Concentration in Motion Design, Visual Communication Design

Seattle Pacific University - Degrees Offered: B. A. Art with Emphasis in Illustration/New Pictures; B. A. Visual Communication Design.

University of Washington - Degrees Offered: Bachelor of Design (B. D.) Interaction Design, Visual Communication Design; Master of Design (M. Des.) Interaction Design, Visual Communication Design; Ph. D. Digital Arts and Experimental Media

Employment and Salary Trends for Washington State Visual Designers

According to the most current report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (March 27, 2012), the state of Washington is home to 41,400 artists and designers. This major group includes commercial and industrial designers, fashion designers, floral designers, graphic designers, interior designers, set and exhibit designers, and “other” designers. The population of artists and designers in the state has increased significantly since 2002, when the population was 36,100. Salaries have increased as well. The average salary for Washington artists and designers is $52,550, up from $46,040 in 2002.

The U.S. is home to an impressive 1,725,670 salaried artists and designers, up from 1,503,680 in 2002. The median annual wage for salaried artists and designers was $34,580 in 2002. Today, the average median salary is $43,640. Mean wages were $41,660 in 2002. Today, mean wages for artists and designers are $53,850. 

Aspiring Washington designers can find work in a variety of fields, but some of the most popular employment options include advertising agencies, architectural firms, design studios, environmental signage firms, film studios, government identity, in-house firms, motion design,newspapers, publishing houses, television stations, and web and information design. Creative agencies, production studios, publishers and more can be found in many cities across the state. However, some of the top employers in this field can be found in principal cities such as Seattle, Spokane, Tacoma, Vancouver, Bellevue, Everett, Kent, Yakima, Renton, and Spokane Valley. Bellingham and Redmond (home of Microsoft Corporation) are well worth exploring as well.