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Why Craft?

Oregon College of Art and Craft’s 109 year tradition has centered on the study of Art through Craft as hand and mind united - in concert – as the single most important component of both art and design. At OCAC we know that craft combined with content is essential to every successful artist and designer; just look at our alumni who thrive in their abilities and knowledge to execute their ideas. Our students study with faculty in a mentor-based environment surrounded by the supportive ethos of Portland that values the hand-made, locally sourced, and ethically entrepreneurial. They use techniques that best serve their work, from hand tools that are centuries old to the digital technology of the twenty-first century and go on to be illustrious alumni.

Colleen Flanagan, Post-bac - Designer of life-supporting substrates to regenerate devastated coral ecosystems.

Jeanine Jablonski, BFA 2001 - Founder and owner of Fourteen30 Contemporary Gallery, Portland, Oregon

Joe Gibson, BFA 2009 – Designer, entrepreneur, small business facilitator and co-founder of Revolution Design House.

Ask any artist or designer:

Learning to work with materials as your partners - intensively studying materials – gives you the ability to express your ideas clearly as paintings, sculpture, furniture, photographs, jewelry, books, drawings, installations, or functional object.

Have you ever thought “if only I could paint, build, shape, form this terrific idea”? Have you been frustrated by not knowing how to proceed to choose the best material for your ideas…or having finished a piece been disappointed in how it looked?

At OCAC you develop deep skills in using materials and extensive knowledge to realize your conceptions. This focus sets OCAC apart from other programs.  At OCAC, you work in small classes, directly and intensively, with your faculty, artists-in-residence, and your fellow students in a creative community that encourages experimentation, investigation and innovation.

Working across the centuries of making, you select the tools and techniques that best serve your intentions.

Our photographers use 19th century image capture and digitally scan their images to print them mural size. Our book artists create text by selecting from the array of typographical choices -- from 15th century moveable wood type, five centuries of hand-set type and digital typography -- to convey their thoughts in the most effective graphic vehicle.

Our alums:
• design artificial reefs for NASA that aid in the comeback of biodiversity in our oceans, 
• nurture new makers and designers through a lab that aids in bringing their products to market, 
• exhibit in nationally recognized galleries, and 
• work in a wide variety of careers that require creativity with a focus on innovation.

Adding and adapting new technologies is the heart of OCAC’s 108-year history. The Technology Revolution is transforming opportunities that began with the Industrial Revolution.

OCAC today not only embraces, but defines, the Technological Revolution’s new ways of making. CNC routers, 3D printers, laser cutters, and digital looms provide enhanced avenues for expression and opportunities for production at OCAC, reinforcing the OCAC commitment to the hand and the creative mind as essential partners in making.

Craft today is equally characterized by “the hand that works physical material” and by the “mind that commands the operations of technology or intellectual material" as Scott Marble has said in Digital Craft.

OCAC’s studio resources of specialized digital equipment open new possibilities for you and your fellow students and prepare you for careers in advanced making and manufacture. 

The OCAC mission states that Craft is the creative material practice at the core of art and design.
Craft – hand and mind united, in concert – is the single most important component of both art and design…and remains essential in the making processes of both fine art and design methodologies.