What can you do with an art and design degree?

All graduating Interior Design students at Harcum College receive a thorough portfolio critique from their professors before the Spring Show featuring their work.

By John Hayden, Vice President of Institutional Advancement at Harcum College

While many a caring parent has fretted that their artistically inclined child might grow up to be a “starving artist,” the reality is there are many essential, satisfying, and rewarding careers in the art and design space where beauty and functionality meet user needs and wants.

Whether it is the clothes we wear or the spaces where we live, work, and play, these are all the province of fashion designers, fashion merchandisers, and interior designers.

Being an accountant by training, I think and communicate like one. We all have a sense of what that means, being numbers focused and bottom-line driven. Likewise, everyone knows what it means to think like a lawyer, where words are mastered to defend any side of any argument.

Just prior to the Annual Fashion Show, all Fashion students meet with an independent third-party panel of judges from the fashion industry who review their creations.

What many do not realize is that artists and designers also have a valuable and special way of thinking called “design thinking” that transcends words and numbers, turning ideas into form. Design thinking is perfect for our fast-paced, highly visual, increasingly virtual world that is user-centric and solutions-focused. The result? Endless opportunities in technology and the visual arts for graphic designers and commercial photographers.

Bottom line, you can make a good living and a great life through art and design. That’s why Harcum College has redoubled its commitment to prepare the next generation of artists/designers by opening a new Art & Design Center in Bryn Mawr, which consolidates our art and design programs while allowing for their growth. Our value proposition includes equipping students to enter the world of work, their associate’s degrees in hand, which they readily do as graduates from our Fashion Design, Fashion Merchandising, Graphic Design, Interior Design, and Photography programs.

Harcum believes in artists and designers and their value in the wider world. Having sent generations of students on to gainful employment designing homes and offices, creating and selling clothing lines, creatively directing high-end magazines and websites, and capturing and marketing images for use around the world, we can say with confidence, no starving is necessary.


Before rejoining Harcum College in 2018 to head up the Advancement Office, John Hayden was President of the Antonelli Institute in Erdenheim for eight years. He previously served as Chief Financial Officer at Harcum College. When Antonelli closed its doors in 2018, its renowned photography and graphic design programs were welcomed into the Harcum College curriculum and are now majors located at the new Art & Design Center at 270 S. Bryn Mawr Avenue.

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