Dezeen Magazine

Gallery with how-to segments on wall

Ten graphic design projects by students at Maryland Institute College of Art

Dezeen School Shows: a project that explores linguistic pronunciation and an installation that critiques internet "how-to guides" are included in Dezeen's latest school show by students at Maryland Institute College of Art.

Also included is a wall-mounted timeline that sheds light on the daily routines of people with ADHD and a visual representation of how a graphic designer visualises music.

Maryland Institute College of Art

Institute: Maryland Institute College of Art
Course: Graphic Design MFA
Tutor: Jennifer Cole Phillips, Ellen Lupton and Abraham Burickson

School statement:

"The MFA graphic designers at MICA use text, image, form and storytelling to construct engaging experiences across different types of media.

"Graphic design requires active thinking and making. Our dedicated faculty, vibrant curriculum and well-equipped studio environment help MFA designers build deep formal skills, nimble thinking strategies and rich professional portfolios.

"Graduates of the programme work nationally and internationally as creative practitioners, educators and thought leaders."

Gallery with walls covered in colourful artwork

Placeholders by Sara Austin

"Placeholders is a reflection on memory, pop culture and loss. This thesis leverages the power of storytelling in design to create a world that blends the widely recognisable and the deeply personal.

"Utilising a broad range of design methods including typography, type design, photography, illustration, 3D, photo editing and collage, this exhibition varies broadly in its execution but becomes a unified whole in its colour, typography and highly structured arrangement."

Student: Sara Austin
Email: saustin[at]

Gallery with pink wall and plant in front of it

Be Queer, Rest Here by Alfie Marsland

"Queer people are tired and need spaces of rest. This body of work creates conditions in which the audience can situate themselves to slow down. The target audience is queer people, though all are welcome to rest.

"In a capitalist society, being busy is glorified and idleness is stigmatised. The notion of rest as resistance is at the core of each piece produced in this collection of objects and images.

"A visual thread uniting much of the work is illegible type and lettering. Unreadable words act as visual metaphors for slowing down as they require readers to pause to decipher meaning."

Student: Alfie Marsland
Email: create[at]

Closeup of colourful plastic circles arranged along a wire

A Musician's Translation by Michelle Shin

"A musician's internal, abstract understanding of music is invisible to see, which makes it difficult to acknowledge. This understanding can be revealed graphically and translated visually.

"My thesis introduces a sophisticated interpretation of how I look at music as a musician through the lens of a graphic designer.

"Through my experiences, memories and subjectivity, I compose my own visual music by experimenting with abstract notations and creating a personal language."

Student: Michelle Shin

Gallery with timeline on wall

The ADHD Atlas by Hannah Abele

"The ADHD Atlas is a guidebook that explores the experiences of people with ADHD and the tools they have created for learning, growing and navigating their lives.

"Graphic design has been used strategically as a tool to clearly communicate information to people with ADHD and successfully hold their attention.

"The exhibition that accompanies the book – shown here – uses posters to showcase an exaggerated version of a day through the lens of someone with ADHD."

Student: Hannah Abele
Email: hannahevedesign[at]

Gallery with dark exhibition with abstract shapes

Visual Disturbances by Drishti Khokhar

"This thesis explores visual analogies of optical disturbances. It attempts to translate bodily experiences and symptoms of ocular migraines into visual forms in order to describe sensations.

"The piece invites the viewers to encounter these visceral effects through two and three-dimensional form.

"Experimental visualisations of unquantifiable feelings act as field guides toward understanding and sharing these disturbances, which affect many people during the course of their lives."

Student: Drishti Khokhar
Email: drishtikhokhar[at]

Gallery with segments containing different typefaces

Toaster Type Foundry by Hui Zeng

"Toaster Type Foundry presents three different typefaces: craft, reflect and cut. Craft reacts to calligraphic strokes and the sharpness of digital type.

"Reflect employs a repeated counter shape, striving to remain consistent at all costs, while Cut tries to be as inconsistent as possible. Each typeface explores the constraints and conventions of typeface design to create new and intriguing forms."

Student: Hui Zeng

Gallery with exhibition of pastel-coloured fabrics

Slow Cubicle by Molane Hu

"Slow Cubicle challenges the conventional ideals of efficiency by utilising iconic workplace objects as vehicles to explore slowness. It also revamps the grid system by infusing mindfulness with squares, lines and circles.

"Each Slow Calendar collects all the days of the week into a separate banner, overriding linear time in favour of lived experiences.

"The Slow Planner encourages present planning through poetic prompts and ethereal tasks, and Slow Sticky Notes urge deceleration with mind-provoking graphics.

"Together, these objects ask individuals to pause and contemplate amidst the modern focus on speed and productivity."

Student: Molane Hu
Email: molanehu[at]

Gallery with light exhibition of projected Chinese character in the middle of consecutive rings

A Poetic Space by Shuang Wu

"In Chinese, the word '诗' ('shi' or 'poem') means the language that expresses thoughts from the heart. The expressions in ancient Chinese poems can't be perfectly translated into other languages.

"The beauty of ancient Chinese poems transcends time and space, inviting readers from any era to reimagine the poems.

"A Poetic Space is an immersive visualisation of several nature-related Chinese poems, applying simple line drawings, sound design and typography in a physical, private space.

"The design goes beyond literal language, re-translating the poems in a 3D landscape and welcoming the audience to step into the world of ancient Chinese poetry."

Student: Shuang Wu
Email: shuanglunawu[at]

Gallery with how-to segments on wall

How-to How-to by Aumika Shetty

"This project explores the concept of 'how-to' guides and the role of instructional media in contemporary culture.

"It presents a series of satirical responses to Google's most commonly asked 'how-to' questions, using the vernacular of popular instructional graphic design.

"The project engages critically with ubiquitous instructional content, employing humour to undermine the perceived authority and power dynamics inherent in these types of materials.

"I invite viewers to question the impact instructional media has on the way we consume and understand information. 'How-to How-to' contributes to a broader conversation about design's role in establishing authority."

Student: Aumika Shetty
Email: aumikashetty[at]

Gallery with colourful circular arrangement on dark wall

The Matrix of Language by Christina Chahyadi

"According to the International Phonetic Association, the constituents of around 7,100 languages can be distilled into 107 sound symbols.

"The Matrix of Language shows the interconnectedness of languages and translates its sonic features and nuances into shapes, hues, sizes and locations. This exhibit visualises the 44 core sounds that are present in English.

"The network shows how sounds – the building blocks of language – are integral in forming and navigating linguistic systems.

"In practice, graphical guides provide an approachable tool for learning to pronounce words in new languages, empowering people to have agency over their linguistic journeys."

Student: Christina Chahyadi
Email: christinachahyadi[at]

Partnership content

This school show is a partnership between Dezeen and Maryland Institute College of Art. Find out more about Dezeen partnership content here.