English for art and design project: Artist / designer promotional catalogue (1998)

This project walks students through the planning and process of constructing a promotional catalogue and maps out entrepreneurial career planning.

R.J. Preece (EFL)
English for Art & Design | 23 August 2011
This educational project brief was previously published in Peter Master & Donna Brinton (Eds.), New Ways in English for Specific Purposes (pp. 130-1) (1998). Alexandria, VA, USA: TESOL, with the title "Promote the artist in you". Click to see the English for Art and Design overview page.
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EFL Language Level
Intermediate +

> Create an artist’s /
designer’s statement

> Describe and promote
artistic work

Class Time

Preparation Time

> Promotional catalogues
about the work of
designers and artists

> Visual arts books with

For teachers: In the following project, geared toward students at least one semester into their art or design specialty (in the United States, after the third semester in a bachelor of fine arts program), students create their own promotional catalogues illustrating their work and ideas. For the catalogue, students write personal and professional statements about their inspirations, organize their work into categories, write statements for each work to explain the image in some way, learn and practice writing captions (the format and information under a picture), and write supportive essays on the work of other students. Design catalogues can be created by individual students or can represent the work of an art or design team.


1. Bring a few promotional catalogues to class and outline the project.

2. Ask the students to brainstorm about why these catalogues have been created. For example, ask, “How are they different from other books?” “How is written language important in this catalogue?” “Who has editorial control?” “How could these catalogues be useful in business?”

3. Ask the students to observe the structure of the catalogue (e.g., introductory essay, categories for certain work).

4. Ask the students to determine whether they would like to do the project individually, in pairs, or in small groups. If they choose groups, consider requesting that the artists or designers create an art or design collaborative group with a group name, a logo, and an explanation for the choice of each.

5. Divide the tasks that you select into a series of components, which can include the following: title page; contents page; positive statement by a critic (an introductory statement by another student); introduction to the designer or design team (two to three pages), including philosophy, objectives, inspirations, and influences; captions for each image; and 100- to 200-word descriptions of individual images. For material, the students can draw from their previous designs and sketches, perhaps add new ones, and make color copies of photographs of their work.

6. Bring in a few art or design books, or ask the students to bring in theirs from other classes. Ask them to look at the captions and to observe the format. The captions may include, for example, a number, the artist’s or designer’s name, the title, the year, the medium, and the size. Others may simply offer a brief comment about the design.

7. Ask the students to decide on a caption format to use throughout their catalogue (but emphasize that more than one format exists for writing captions).

8. Ask the students to suggest three different organizational options (e.g., chronologically, by category— posters, logos, package design) for the catalogue; subsequently, have them determine which is the best for their catalogue and explain why.

9. Ask the students to select the typography and layout for the catalogue and justify their choices.

10. Ask the students to generate a finished catalogue of their own work.

Caveat and options

1. Change the time reference by telling the students to imagine that it is 10-15 years from now. Have them include their resumes (including awards, commissions, and other honors) and histories in the catalogue.

2. Have other students critique the catalogues as promotional material.