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Why do you need a design coach?

Have you ever had a tutor, a personal trainer, or a mentor?

Don't spend time in a boring classroom!

What you get in addition to a fun challenge with innovative, portfolio level projects, and customized design lessons is a coaching interaction to help you complete successfully rather than a rote learn via tutorial.

Are you seeking to break your routine, learn new skills, or build a portfolio?

It's a perfect time to work with Design Coach Val.


Options, Membership PLANS & BUNDLES

plans & bundles
  • Choose any TWO PROJECTS and receive 20% off.

  • Choose any THREE PROJECTS and receive 30% off.




  • Member on-call for $30/month includes:
    one scheduled 15 min call and 2 email q/a critique/feedback per a month plus 10% off any project, - 3 month consecutive minimum commitment

  • Member on-call for $45/month includes:
    two scheduled 15 min call (or one 30 minute session) and up to 3 email q/a exchanges, plus 15% off any project. - 3 month minimum commitment

  • Monthly membership as needed. $60 includes:
    up to 45 min phone call (or split up to 3 calls) plus 2 email q/a exchanges


  • Critique your portfolio - $50 includes 20-30 min video conference consult after supplying url and/or up to 15 jpg images.


  • Taking one course at a University can range between $1700 and $3500 depending on the type of school and their program. A semester lasts about 14 weeks and could include up to four projects ranging in complexity and length of time dedicated to do the work.

  • Average cost of college per year is $30k and most often the design curriculum for your major will be approximately 1/4 of all course requirements in the 120 credit hours to graduate. This means that on average the coursework for the graphic design component is approximately $30k (can go up or down depending on the type of school and financial aid). Depending on whether the program is a B.A. or a B.F.A. you'll likely take between 5 and 11 design classes for your diploma along with the rest of the 90 hours of course-work for general education and other requirements.

Are you interested in adding more graphic design and creative thinking skills to your resume for that job promotion or better-than -lateral move?

PROJECT modules


Design Coach Val has spent more than two decades in the graphic design field and active in annual portfolio reviews as well as coordinating professional design feedback for students. Design Coach Val has listened in to others critique portfolios, discussed with professionals the work from portfolios they are reviewing, and critiqued many portfolios shown in various presentations from local and national conferences. It may help to know that (Design Coach) Val was the charter president of both AIGA Orlando (2000) and AIGA Nashville (2021) and became president of AIGA Rhode Island (around 2008/2009) as well as serving in a few other leadership positions in the organization. For a period of 15 years, she was extremely active in this important connection to the industry and still maintains personal connections.

Based on this level of interaction and work with individuals in the portfolio process, the following projects will provide you with unique and innovative design artifacts that will showcase your design voice to highlight in your portfolio.

If you are feeling confined by the work you are currently creating whether you are in an in-house, freelance, or another role that is bringing you work that you would rather not be doing, then this is the time to work with Design Coach Val to create the new portfolio that features the type of work you want to be doing.

What is included?

- Private portal on designcoachval dot com where you can log in with password to see material

- Project overview in visual format with recommended steps in the design process

- Previous examples

- Projects typically take about 4 weeks, but if you need more time or to meet bi-weekly that is an option

- 30-45 minute video conference sessions to review work and provide critique (includes up to 4 hours of face to face time over the course of you working on the project)

- Additional follow-up weekly via email to check on your progress or give written comments on the work.

What is not included?

- Technical instruction for software including, but not limited to, Adobe Creative Suite : Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, XD, Premiere Pro. Any technical needs may incur additional hours of coach sessions.

Each project is $249 including our face to face time.

Perplexed version2


expressive typography; connotation vs denotation; concept development, composition; design principles, elements, and process

FINAL ARTIFACT: 2 distinct posters

This is one of Design Coach Val's favorite assignments and is a perfect project to learn graphic design with emphasis on TYPE and IMAGE where you may create your own imagery (or type solution). Experimentation is encouraged as you explore as many methods of making type with objects from string to cut paper to potatoes and beyond. You may even use photography or a scanner in this process. You will learn a bit about the history of hand craft lettering vs mechanical. 



advanced level design project that emphasizes type, image and color building a uniform brand; design principles, elements and process includes hand craft vs digital.

FINAL ARTIFACT: 3 related wrappers

You should have a basic handle on typography for this assignment or can add-on extra lessons about type history and classification as you enter the design process for this fun project. Invent your own chocolate brand or redesign an existing brand. Choose three flavors and develop a basic concept. Learn about hand illustration, experimentation with pattern, and creating unity across the brand. If you want to learn a bit more about packaging and even pattern or surface design, this is a great project for you.


TYPE 101

type history; type classification; the design process in selecting typography; design principles, elements and process

FINAL ARTIFACT: a set of 5 book covers

Upgrade your type sensibility with this project. You will learn about typography and typographic history. Examine type styles thru a series of exercises in the discovery research portion of the assignment. Learn how to find the best type for your solutions, how to get away from the default type options that are pervasive and available to every with a computer, and how to integrate hand craft with digital solutions. In addition, you will learn about visual hierarchy, gestalt principle in creating dynamic compositions, and how to create a unified series within a system. 



brand design; gestalt theory; figure/ground; sketching; understanding vectors; design principles, elements, and process

FINAL ARTIFACT: design process book, logo and brand guidelines, collateral

In this project, you will learn about logo and branding thru the design process of concept development, research and ideation with sketching, how to take ideas from the sketchbook to Adobe Illustrator, refining your ideas to a solid image. Branding includes a typographic solution and a system so you'll learn more about color and type in this lesson. If needed add-on extras about type history and classification so that you can move beyond the default options on the computer. This fun project will take you out of your comfort zone into an imaginary yet realistic world of retail. 



brainstorming, innovation mechanism in concepts with visual rhetoric; marrying type and image cohesively; hand craft vs digital, design principles, elements, and process.

FINAL ARTIFACT: book cover (+ a surprise component)

This is recommended as the third lesson in the series of discovering graphic design thru typography with an emphasis on design research requiring you to read a book from a choice of 4 options. Once you've completed the book as research, a short book review and character, plot analysis will start your creative adventure in developing a visual solution for the book cover. You will be required to develop 3 or more concepts in the sketch phase that will be critiqued, narrowed down, combined, altered etc. as you work thru developing a cover that represents that concept with cohesive type and image solution. Once completed you will be given a second, yet related in some capacity, assignment to understand taking your concept into different forms and even sizes. 

r.ochab_blurb -32_edited.jpg


research and writing; layout; concept development; design principles, elements, and process.

FINAL ARTIFACT: curated book

It is very important to have a connection and understanding of the past in terms of how design and culture relate. In this mini session of the Time Traveler which is also available as an in person workshop, an XXL travel experience, or an online course, you will explore the history of type and design thru a curated investigation resulting in a dynamic use of word and image. The goals in the process are understanding page layout and book design with a comprehensive thematic concept to which you refer to for all decisions from color, grid system, and even hierarchy. Learn about how a semiotic matrix may help you in the various visuals integrated into the final product. 

Q & A

are you in a holding pattern?

things to consider right now...


5 Course Info


  • Colleges /Universities are slow to adapt to contemporary needs of the Graphic Design industry.


  • They have not caught up to the fact that individuals have access to learn design at earlier ages or on their own with variety of resources. As a former academic insider, Design Coach Val knows firsthand that curriculum takes a long time to change due to internal systems, checks and balances, and an extended system that often doesn't understand the industry.

  • Most degree programs only include about 1/4 of the required courses for a diploma in the major meaning that your main focus is 1/4 the entire cost of the diploma averaging about $30k for two semesters (depending on the institution) equally $3,000 per class.


  • Design Coach Val has created an innovative program series that includes THE MOST IMPORTANT ASPECTS OF A CURRICULUM of those 10 CLASSES INTO 5 COURSES, plus an optional in-person experience.



She has created a methodology that also incorporates fun. The variety of work in each course includes short 'speed problems to flex your creative muscles', demonstrations of relevant technology, references to contemporary and historical design examples, and multiple projects to complete at the portfolio quality level.


You will be encouraged to explore in the design process and learn to recognize happy accidents as a creative philosophy for innovation.

What is included in each course?

- Private portal on designcoachval dot com where you can log in with password to see material

- Speed problems and 2-4 projects some more expansive in scope than projects above.

- Relevant technology demonstration and instruction as well as q/a during trouble-shooting.

- Previous examples

- Courses can be arranged over 8 to 12 weeks depending on your availability and goals.

- Approximately 10 hours of face-to-face time over the schedule we set up.

- Additional follow-up weekly via email to check on your progress or give written comments on the work.

What is not included in each course?

- Access to Adobe or other technology or your own equipment.

- The in-person option as a retreat, does not include transportation or food.

The courses start at $1,000. START NOW




This course emphasizes the creative process of wonder, experimentation, observation, and excitement that is integral to the design process and key traits of successful graphic designers. It is exploratory in nature and will provide solid foundation of design principles and elements through investigation of various assignments that require you to be curious, inquisitive, and a risk-taker. You will be encouraged in the coaching process to understand how to recognize happy accidents, implementing trial and error in learning, observation turned into practice, and a bit of fun thrown into the mix.

Course outcomes:

• Learning and utilizing graphic design principles and elements and creating compositions.
• Learning various tools including handcraft, ie. sketching and collage that leads to basics of Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign.

• Discovering concepts such as figure/ground and gestalt that provide fundamentals for design problem solving.
• Exploration of the design process which includes brainstorming, research, ideation, conceptualization, exploration, and actualization.

Projects will include smaller speed problems that are not necessarily completed; an image-based assignment in place emphasizing Photoshop and InDesign; and creating shapes, marks, characters from hand and digital for a final fun project.

brand bon voyage _edited.jpg



Branding is storytelling. In this section of the program you will use skills developed in the previous classes to hone in on brand identity. The primary client is yourself for personal branding, resume development, portfolio production. You'll be asked to go through a skills and goals assessment process to begin the foundation for concept development. Because it's tricky to design for yourself, you will try out this methodology for two other brands first which will provide a broad array of portfolio quality work. In addition, you will work on creating your personal website and brand space on various social networks such as indeed, linkedin and behance.

Course outcomes:

• transforming the design process into a self-evaluation in creating one's own brand.
• Learn about skill assessment and goal setting to use also as concept development for your brand.

• Reinforce the use of gestalt, figure/ground, and innovative typography in your visual solutions.

• Exhibit understanding of brand identity and brand story through creation of identity manual and collateral material.

• Create a comprehensive portfolio, resume, and website that reinforces your personal brand.

We'll start with your own goal assessment and brainstorming process, but to allow the brain to mull all that over you will move into two smaller brand projects along with exercises to stretch your creative muscles with symbols.




Step to is to become a wanderer in the mind and in physical action. This course is a combination of thinking and making. You will be introduced to the basics of typography including anatomy, history, and classification. You'll be encouraged to explore hand lettering versus digital solutions and within the digital become adept at hand-eye coordination of composition. The design process is emphasized and the projects become more complex building on what you learned in WONDER100. An emphasis will be placed on the meaning of words (connotation vs denotation) and the personality of typographic expression.

Course outcomes:

• Learning and utilizing typographic forms from hand lettering and hand craft to digital solutions.
• Understanding the historical context of typography and the classification and anatomy to be able to make good conceptual and aesthetic decisions.

• Exploration of the design process and a more complex problem-solving challenges including grids.
• Become a wanderer by allowing for experiments in the design process.

• Understand how meaning is communicated with word & image.

Projects will include smaller speed problems that are not necessarily completed; a a research based exploration of the typographic form, and at least one actualized project with expressive typography. This will include digital solutions but have less digital instruction than WONDER 100.




This is an advanced level graphic design course. What is the role of the designer in society? What does it mean to be a citizen designer? What are the more advanced creative innovation tools one can use to become a design thinker? You'll explore forms of visual rhetoric and examine symbols and communication with a semiotic matrix as part of the design process for the assignments in this module.

You'll become an explorer physically and mentally as you develop the skills for advanced critical thinking.

Course outcomes:

• Understanding of creative innovation tools including visual rhetoric and semiotics.
• Become an explorer as you examine objects, time and place in developing a creative artifact.

• Integrate all of the skills you have learned so far, but with coaching continue to stretch yourself.

The assignments will have creative prompts but open ended as far as solution to allow the process to determine outcome using the ideation tools you'll discover and practice more than once.




This is a journey into the history of graphic design. We'll start in the 1980s with the introduction of the Macintosh and jump back in time to discover threads between cultures, social, economic and historical contexts. Having a contextual foundation for the discipline of design and how cultures communicate can inspire and inform your decision-making in the design process. Perhaps you are an appropriator or attempt to be a pure modernist. This course will include reading, links to contextual videos in content that exists in the interwebs along with short lecture style overviews of course material, and critical thinking exercises to make connections over time. You will be encouraged to produce a short writing assignment that will be integrated into a design project that emphasizes the book format producing your own document using InDesign primarily and other digital or hand craft tools to complete the visualization process. Throw out the test anxiety syndrome and take this course for the love of learning and discovery as if you were a time traveler.

Course outcomes:

• Understanding of the historical context and significance of graphic design and visual communication throughout recorded time.
• Flex muscles in a creative way in a research investigation as a time traveler.

• Utilize your evolving design aesthetics for actualizing design artifacts that integrate copy.

• Overview of the grid and visual hierarchy, how to structure a book format, and creating a unifying visual statement.

One large project combining word and image in a multi-page document with a smaller assignment sprinkled through the production of the other work to give your brain the breaks it needs for a-ha moments.




Taste. Trek. Globetripping.
Three unique in person workshops including travel opportunities.

Once you complete the sequence of five modules, it is highly recommended that you participate in at least one in person workshop with several others (maximum 12 participants). Taste is all about food and design, from farm to table experience gardening, cooking, and even making pottery not only as creative inspiration but as potential subject matter for creative project.

Globetripping is a travel experience emphasizing designer as author as you explore an immersion in place. Some destinations include Dublin, Japan, Italy, and Spain.

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