The four schools

ACAD’s degree programs are housed within four administrative schools.

Our degree programs are housed within The School of Craft + Emerging Media, The School of Visual ArtsThe School of Communication Design, and The School of Critical + Creative Studies.

School of Craft + Emerging Media

The School of Craft + Emerging Media is a unique combination of material and immaterial forms of practice and expression. Home to ACAD’s four craft programs, (Ceramics, Fibre, Glass and Jewellery + Metals) and the Media Arts program, the SC+EM provides both a rigorous and experimental environment that charts new territories in how materials, technology, and ideas connect to objects and experiences. Our team of faculty and technicians includes three Governor General’s Award winners, inspiring our students and re-defining the boundaries of art, craft, design and technology.

Our vision is focused on making, experimentation, collaboration, exploration and the development of a new form of knowledge. To achieve this vision, we participate in his focus in a variety of initiatives, including:

  • Turangalila – a collaboration between Media Arts students, faculty and the Calgary Symphony Orchestra
  • Tex(t)ech – interactive laboratory initiative with the Banff Centre In(ter)ventions Residency
  • Delicate Spaces – a collaborative student show at the John Fluevog Peanut Gallery, Calgary
  • Materiality and Embodiment, Symposium, Workshops, Studio Visits, Presentations – featuring Gwendolyn Yoppolo, Jocelyn Prince, Thomas Tucker and Nicole Burisch
  • Underwater Basket Weaving – Alumni Panel on Entrepreneurship and Creativity featuring ACAD alumni Tim Belliveau, Natalie Gerber, James Jensen, Jennie Vallis and Kari Woo
  • Public Art as Negotiation – a lecture by Jørn Mortensen plus a panel discussion featuring Quyen Hoang, Rodney LaTourelle, Jørn Mortensen, Sans façon and Amery Calvelli

Operationally, the school continues to grow and develop through the establishment of the Academic Growth Plan and the development of new and engaging curriculum. In 2015, SC+EM welcomed Martina Lantin, as a new permanent faculty member in the Ceramics program, and launched the Medalta Residency Award, a month-long residency at Medalta for a 3rd or 4th year undergraduate Ceramics student.

This coming year, SC+EM will prepare for the renovation and expansion of the Jewellery + Metals facility. In September 2015, SC+EM welcomed its first cohort of graduate students into ACAD’s inaugural graduate studies program, a Master of Fine Arts in Craft Media.

Number of Students: 131

Interim Chair: Paul Robert


Ceramics major, BFA, MFA

Fibre major, BFA

Glass major, BFA, MFA

Jewellery + Metals major, BFA, MFA

Media Arts major, BFA

School of Visual Arts

The School of Visual Arts (SVA) engages students in the exciting, ever-evolving world of visual art. SVA incorporates strategies that stimulate students’ knowledge of theory, criticism and material making though the areas of drawing, painting, print media, and sculpture.

The SVA has initiated a series of program evaluations, as well as incorporating a minor structure to its development plans. This allows for future academic growth and development within the school, and provides students greater access to cross-program opportunities in the future.

The faculty and technicians of SVA facilitate creativity and innovation in our students by supporting artistic expression and imagination within the boundaries of our ethics and principles. Through the Symposium Steering Committee, SVA organized and presented a symposium on Research Ethics, Academic Freedom and Artistic Creativity in 2015.

Number of Students: 251

Visiting Artists:

  • Ushio Shiriohara and Noriko Shiriohara
  • David Mach
  • Eleanor King
  • Jennifer Marman and Daniel Borins
  • Mike Hein

Site Visits:

  • Art Gallery of Alberta Geoffrey Farmer exhibition
  • Banff Centre

Interim Chair: Heather Huston


Drawing major, BFA

Painting major, BFA

Photography major, BDes

Print media major, BFA

Print media minor

Sculpture major, BFA

School of Communication Design

The School of Communications Design (SCD) program offers a professional degree in design, preparing students for successful careers as culturally aware, responsible professionals and leaders in the disciplines and practice of design, advertising, illustration and character design. The relevance of curriculum and program standards for professional practice is aligned to industry, and industry standards as defined by relevant professional organizations.

The SCD's curriculum contributes to a culture of entrepreneurship, cultural and social awareness, and independence, within the context of the creative economy. SCD is also expanding its number of community initiatives which create real-world project experiences for students.

In the 2013–14 and 2014–15 academic years, SCD students collaborated with a range of stakeholders on a variety of exciting public and private projects, including graphic and motif designs used by Bobsled Canada on their Olympic sleds in the Sochi Olympics, window displays for the Holt Renfrew luxury department store and J.Crew – a first for Calgary – and illustrations for Inglewood Bird Sanctuary, and Ralph Klein Park in partnership with the City of Calgary. Future opportunities include the creation of interpretive panels for the City of Calgary Parks and Recreation and an exciting partnership with Innovate Calgary.

SCD’s work on streamlining degree requirements and improving curriculum mapping has successfully optimized programs. The School of Communication Design develops opportunities for interdisciplinarity through collaborations with other programs within ACAD, as well as the creation of an Illustration Minor and future Graphic Design Minor. These developments will provide future students with greater opportunities to grow within the current curriculum.

Notably, the ongoing commitment of faculty and alumni to the school continues to exceed expectations. Last academic year, ACAD won 22 Applied Arts Student Awards:

  • SCD Alumnus Sam Weber designed a collector’s coin and commemorative stamp for The Royal Canadian Mint and Canada Post that depicts the Ghost Bride said to haunt the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel since the 1930s.
  • Jillian Tamaki was the winner of the 2014 Governor General's Award for illustrating children’s picture books for her New York Times bestselling YA graphic novel This One Summer written by Mariko Tamaki. This One Summer also one a Caldecott Honor Book and a host of other awards.
  • In the last year, Fiona Staples was awarded and nominated for multiple Hugo awards for her work on Saga written by Brian K Vaughan. She also won several Eisner Awards and a Joe Shuster Award.
  • New York Times best-selling illustrator Renata Liwska was nominated for a 2014 Governor General's Award for illustrating children’s picture books for Once Upon a Memory written by Nina Laden and published by Little Brown in December 2014. Other books she has had published recently include Boom, Snot, Twitty written by Doreen Cronin and Published by Viking in March 2014 as well as its upcoming sequel This Way that Way to be released June 2015. Other books Renata is currently working on include Dormouse Dreams written by Karma Wilson (Disney Hyperion) and Places to Be written by Mac Barnett (Harper Collins). Other awards for 2014 include Society of Illustrators NY, The Original Show, and Communication Arts Illustration Annual.
  • Mike Kerr and Renata Liwska have received a two book children's picture book deal with Bloomsbury USA.
  • Jacqui Lee has new children's picture books in the last year, Murilla Gorilla and the Hammock Problem (Aug 2014) and Taffy Time (March 2015) both written by Jennifer Lloyd.
  • Joy Ang has two new books coming up -  Mustache Baby Meets His Match written by Bridget Heos (March 2015) and Behold! A Baby written by Stephanie Watson (June 2015).
  • Cartoonist Dave Whamond was a winner of 2014 National Cartoonist Society award for magazine illustration.
  • Riley Rossmo's most recent comic series is Rasputin written by Alex Grecian and published by Image Comics.
  • Serena Malyon was a 2014 Spectrum award winner.
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition was named Game of The Year for 2014 and includes work by several ACAD alumni including Art Director Matthew Goldman.
  • ACAD instructor and alumni Sandy Nichol's newest book release is a true classic. Alligator Pie Board Book was written by Dennis Lee and Illustrated by Sandy Nichols.
  • Faculty member Tivadar Bote created three coin designs based on the Arctic Fox, the Pronghorn Antelope and the Wolverine for a series entitled Untamed Canada, in gold and silver. The first coin was on the best-seller list and all three coins received high ratings by reviewers and coin collectors.
  • SCD alumnus and Faculty member Silas Kaufman led workshops at the National Art Education Association National Convention in New Orleans, disseminating the research he and Naoko Masuda have done in the pedagogy of design to educators from across North America, to resounding positive feedback.
  • Faculty member Jamie Morris was commissioned to do a portrait for the Calgary Highlanders of one of their most revered members, Lt. Col. Ross Laird Ellis, DSO, CD who distinguished himself as he led the Battle of Walcheren Causeway during the Battle of the Scheldt.
  • Professor Emeritus Dennis Budgen had an exhibition titled In-finite: Reflections on Ellesmere Island at the Okotoks Art Gallery. Dennis Budgen’s artwork is based on his experiences and research of the Canadian Arctic.
  • Kelley Hartman gave presentations at GDC events in Calgary and Medicine Hat on the Art of Book and Magazine Design, was a judge for the JUNO Awards, will be a judge for the national design competition "uVu Design and Print Excellence Awards" in Montreal in June, and also won two design awards this year.
  • Faculty member Jackie Bagley was a designer for the Emmy award-winning Show “Fargo”
  • SCD Alumnus and Faculty Kyle Chow opened a new store Plant.
  • Alumnus Matt Luckhurst became Graphic Design Lead at Airbnb in San Francisco.

Interim Chair: Scott Cressman


Visual Communications Design, BDes


Advertising major

Graphic Design major

Illustration major

Illustration minor

Character Design major


School of Critical + Creative Studies

The School of Critical and Creative Studies (SCCS) provides students with a wide variety of non-studio academic courses, which collectively comprise a quarter of total required credits in the Bachelor of Fine Art and Bachelor of Design degree programs. SCCS Faculty members represent a wide breadth of disciplines and experience, and their teaching practices are rooted within their active professional engagement. The diverse courses offered in SCCS – Art History, Visual Culture, English, Humanities, Social Sciences, Natural Sciences, and Professional Practices – provide students with an historically aware, critically engaged, and socially responsible understanding of the study and practice of art and design in the contemporary world.

SCCS is further strengthening its curriculum by developing a range of school-specific and cross disciplinary minors, expanding upper-level course offerings, and establishing the necessary graduate level academic courses to support ACAD’s Master of Fine Arts.

The upcoming academic year will see The School of Critical and Creative Studies actively exploring the possibility of offering collaborative degrees in SCCS’s areas of specialization – art history and visual culture. This new enterprise for SCCS will further develop relationships with other provincial institutions and promote ACAD as leader in art education throughout the province.

Faculty in SCCS helped organize and participated in the ACADFA/ACAD sponsored public symposium FIELDWORK: Artistic Research, Ethics and Academic Freedom. Faculty participated in a wide range of academic conferences nationally and internationally, and published extensively in peer reviewed journals, reviews, and books.

Interim Chair: Dr. Mark Clintberg


Liberal Studies