Vermont College of Fine Arts

Defining, articulating, and promulgating a new model in graduate arts education

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Formed recently from several other institutions, VCFA seeks to become a national center for graduate arts education. With its novel academic structure––high-intensity, on-campus residencies paired with closely-mentored work in between––the school helps mid-career writers, designers, visual artists, and musicians to re-focus on their goals and work, and helps them move their careers forward.

Through our comprehensive branding project, we’ve helped to define storylines and messages, and have developed a distinctive visual language that then informed a wide array of new print / digital / and environmental communications. 

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“Graduate-only, arts-only, low-residency national center for arts education in the hills of Vermont. Like other models that don’t fit people’s established notions, VCFA had to work first to build meaning in what and why their new model was––and how and when it fit prospects’ needs, budgets and expectations.”—Matthew Monk, Academic Dean, Vermont College of Fine Arts

We created an “umbrella” viewbook that is used in tandem with program-specific collateral. The College’s first alumni magazine, In Residence is bringing together cohorts of people who may not have shared any time on campus in a common enterprise.

“The fastest-growing school in Vermont, VCFA is increasingly gaining in national and international visibility for graduate education in the arts. The brand work by Sametz Blackstone is a critical element in that growth.”—Matthew Monk

Launched in the summer of 2013, VCFA’s new website provides (for the first time) a meaningful look across the institution. A generous approach to imagery enables previously silo’d programs to retain their unique flavor while coming together to create a meaningful whole—one that supports VCFA’s position as the leading national center for graduate arts education. A non-traditional approach to a “homepage carousel” showcases an ever-changing mosaic of activity. Spotlights, news stories, and a variety of social media feeds keep the site fresh (the social media work earned a CASE Excellence award). And robust work galleries elevate the efforts of students and faculty in ways not previously possible.

“The rebranding included an overhaul of the institution’s identity, recruitment materials, campus signage, and website. The new site puts us in conversation with well-established and respected programs at the national level while it dynamically reflects the outstanding quality of our programs. The year-over-year stats continue to be impressive.

“Historically, this college was thought by many to be only a collection of individual programs, each with its own challenges and accomplishments, one with a long history. One of the primary goals for VCFA with its new brand system was to help all of us—those of us inside the College and those from the outside—to see VCFA as a cohesive whole. The brand and new print and digital materials certainly do that. And while each academic program at VCFA has a distinct identity, the brand has helped express a greater sense of unity among these outstanding programs––and insured that program successes accrue to the whole college.

“The brand now says current, hip, 21st century center for arts. Prospective students see a place that is art and only art, and students who look like they do, and faculty they aspire to be. The brand both projects newness and solidity, flexibility and high quality. We aspire to be the top graduate arts college in the country. The brand foundation is there.”—Matthew Monk