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Spring 2021 ︎ SUNY Purchase ︎ (DES4990 & 4991) Senior Projects I & II

Introductions & Expectations

(please note that this is pretty long so that you can reference it later.)



The Senior Project is the culmination of undergraduate studies at Purchase. It carries six to eight credits and is heavily emphasized within the culture of the school. The Senior Project is the vehicle for every BFA or BSVA candidate’s development of a coherent body of personal work within a discipline, or between or among disciplines. It is considered an extension and refinement of work which is already three years underway.
Each Senior Project consists of a body of work elaborated by a thesis paper that is at least 1500 words, includes documentation of the project, and a final bibliography. The paper serves both as a close analysis and broad reflection on a student’s influences, taking into account relevant art-historical and contemporary issues while outlining the project’s premise, its evolution and the resulting body of work.
Students solicit faculty sponsorship during the semester preceding the one in which they intend to begin the project. They generally seek the guidance of teachers with whom they have had significant prior contact. A first draft of the written portion should be given to the sponsor one month before the end of the semester. Seniors and sponsors will discuss the time frame for intermediate drafts of the paper. Students choose a second reader of their thesis, who may or may not be Art+Design faculty.
The second reader brings a fresh eye and a different perspective to the review of the project. The sponsor and the second reader will critique the completed project and the written paper. Some Boards of Study may require a formal review of each project by the entire faculty membership of the Board


This is it! This is the Senior Project and your opportunity to shepard a project of your own design into fruition. I will be here to help guide things, provide feedback and make sure you’re on the right track. We’ll also make attempts to reach out to other people who can help where I cannot. I will be doing the following things slightly differently this year (outlined below). You can think of this as a way to step towards a possible career opportunity, get an idea out before you have said career opportunity, or possibly, a reflection of your time at Purchase.

Required Outcomes

  • Your project as well as, to the extent that it is applicable, it’s installation and documentation
  • An online folder containing all your research, progress, writing and final piece(s).
  • Your Senior Project paper
    • The written content here must total 5000 words. This translates to ~20 pages, double-spaced.
    • The final document must be designed and typeset.   
    • A minimum of 10 images of your own work (this does not include detail images). Students are also welcome to include additional images of influences.
    • Proper captions per image (title, date, dimensions, medium).
    • Final published projects should also include a proper bibliography.
  • A project journal.
    • You can keep this on paper or digitally. Just keep legibility in mind, and photograph or scan your journal if it is in paper.
    • Grammar is not important.

Why the longer paper & journal?

The longer paper is largely because 1500 words (the current minimum) is barely enough to explicate your thoughts. This word count is meant to help you write with a bit more nuance about your ideas and motivations. The journal will work in tandem with this. Often in design, the simplest, most succinct solution is the most valued. Having a journal allows you to write, in longer form, what you’re thinking and interrogate why you feel that way. You also will be able to track your idea as it develops and have a basis from which to draw from for your paper.

Required Materials

(If you have an issue with any of these let’s at least talk about and see what is possible to make things work)
  • Computer with Adobe Creative Cloud
  • Access to Adobe’s Fonts (through Creative Cloud)
  • A Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive or similar file sharing account with which to share your homework assignments, progress and sketches.
  • Reasonably stable internet connection (for synchronous Discord sessions).
  • A sketchbook of some kind, that you are prepared to document and share. (I’m partial to the Muji Passport Memo pads as they are easy to keep in your pocket. Rhodia also makes a similar book. This can also be partially or completely digital. Milanote and Notion, tools like are.na, or pinterest are also useful. I might be one of the five people still on tumblr, but I like tumblr as well. Be prepared to share this supplemental work with each of your assignments).

Your First Tasks

Please complete the following tasks as soon as possible:
  • Let me know your preferred days and times for regular meetings.
  • If you are graduating this semester, add your project to the Senior Project Portal.
  • Join the discord (please make sure your nickname looks something approaching your name)
  • A cursory outline of your proposed timeline for milestones in your project (research, prototypes, writing, etc.) Also note if another circumstance puts you off track from the suggested milestones below for example, having to write a paper in another department you have a minor in or having content ready for a performance or book fair unaffiliated with the department or college.


I will simply leave the attendance policy here. This class is more unusual in that it has no official meetings, but please make sure to maintain your meetings and be ready to share your progress when we talk.

Grading (the class)

For the first semester if your project is over the course of two semesters, you receive simply a pass/fail which you very likely to receive a satisfactory grade if you are doing the work. The second semester you receive an actual grade. I will base this on an even division factors I previously have used for individual assignments: effort, exploration, development, and craft/execution. This is a bit more nebulous for this particular class, but in situations where things are nebulous they usually will benefit your grade. See the following link for SUNY Purchase’s Grading Guidelines︎

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