About Graphic Design:

The Graphic Design course offers a practical and academic programme that aims to empower students with the necessary skills and knowledge to successfully meet the requirements of the graphic design and related industries. This approach is focused on the integration of conceptual and technical skills with an emphasis on industry-related software and application competencies. Students are required to master the type of cognitive and problem-solving skills that lead to creative and viable design solutions making them sought-after contributors to this dynamic industry.

Programme coordinators’ details

Ms. Kate Chmela-Jones
Room No: K313-2

Kate Chmela-Jones is the Senior Lecturer and Programme Coordinator of the Graphic Design section within the Visual Arts & Design department at the VUT where she has taught since 2003. She is the recipient of two RATE (Rectors Award for Teaching Excellence) awards and four Faculty Research Excellence Awards. She is currently completing her Phd in Applied Design at the Faculty of Informatics and Design at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

Teaching activities: Currently Kate’s teaching activities focus on spearheading the Human Perspectives programme and the facilitation of research reports and design portfolios at fourth year level. Additionally, she has taught Drawing, Illustration, Communication Design and History and Theory of Graphic Design across all levels of study. Kate serves as co-supervisor for a number of Masters-level studies in the department and has acted as an external moderator and examiner for graphic design and related subjects at University of Pretoria (UP), University of Johannesburg (UJ), Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), Durban University of Technology (DUT), Midrand Graduate Institute (MGI) (since 2016 known as Pearson Institute for Higher Education or PIHE), AAA school of advertising (Johannesburg), North West University (NWU), LISOF and Inscape Education group.

Research interests: Kate’s research interest lie in exploring diverse approaches to graphic design pedagogy and practice specifically the incorporation of human-centred processes within graphic and communication design. Her research considers how the concept of Ubuntu and Posthuman philosophy relates to human-centred graphic design and how these concepts function within graphic design professional practice.

Recent research activities include:

2021 – Faculty Research Seminar, August 20, 2021. Vaal University of Technology. Presented a paper entitled: “Blended and ERT approaches in a graphic design programme– reflections from a University of Technology”.

2020 –SSASEA UNESCO Arts Education conference, Virtual, 2- 4 December 2020, North West University, Potchefstroom. Presented a paper entitled:

“Exploring project-based learning in graphic design for the attainment of self-directed learning outcomes”.

2020 – HELTASA conference, Virtual, 30 Nov – 3 December 2020, Central University of Technology, Bloemfontein. Presented a paper entitled:

“Gradients of blended learning – lessons from the lockdown”

2020 –Design Principles and Practices conference, 16-18 March 2020, Pratt Institute, New York, “Blending graphic design: pedagogical approaches”, co-author: R Maharajh, (postponed due to COVID-19 and finally virtually presented in 2021 – University of Monterray, Mexico, 3-5 March 2021)

2019 – “Barriers to Blended Learning in Graphic Design”, co-authors: R Maharajh and A.  Munro, DEFSA conference, 9-11 September, Cape Town.

2019 – “A Shift in the Research Design Approach: Reporting on the Complexities of the Application of Human Centred Design and the Co-Design Process in a Library Setting”, co-authors: A Munro; D, Heenop.  The Design Journal, ISSN: 1460-6925 (Print) 1756-3062 (Online) Journal, 15 April 2019.

2019 – “Students’ experiences of human-centred interventions in a design education setting”sole author, South African Journal of Higher Education (SAJHE), Vol. 33 No. 6 of 2019.

Ms. Kate Chmela-Jones
Senior Lecturer and Programme Coordinator (Graphic Design)

Ms. Dorette van der Walt
Room No: K317-1

Dorette is a lecturer in the Graphic Design section. 

QualificationsBA (Ed), University of Johannesburg, 1997; National Diploma Graphic Design (Cum Laude), Vaal University of Technology, 2005; BA (Hons) Creative Brand Communications specialisation in Art Direction Graphic Design (Cum Laude), Vega School of Brand Communications (Johannesburg), 2006; MTech Graphic Design (Cum Laude), Vaal University of Technology, 2022.

Teaching activities: Dorette is a lecturer in Visual Communication Design: Graphic Design and teaches most subjects in the second year of study.

Research interestsDorette is interested in engaging in projects that focus on Visual Communication Design-and-Strategy, with special interest in Graphic Design Art Direction and practice-led research methodologies.

Community engagement and creative projects: Dorette’s creative drive is rooted in her commitment to produce graphic designs that add value to society.  The passion springs from an intrinsic need to nurture nature and community and encourage people, through the designs that she create and also her interaction with her students, to do the same.

Ms. Dorette van der Walt
Lecturer (Graphic Design)

Mr. Johannes Kotze
Room No: K316-1

Neston likes to immerse himself in a world filled with exploration. He is obsessed with pugs, the moon, and anything art related. If he is not immersed in his art practice, you can find him busy with the following:

Teaching activities: Neston teaches Drawing for Design 1, Entrepreneurship for Design 1, Graphic Processes 1, Entrepreneurship for Design 2 and shares Visual Communication Modules throughout the year ranging from first year to third year level.

Research interests: Neston’s research interests include Practice-led Research, Research-led Practice, Queer theory and Gender studies.

Community engagementNeston has engaged in various community endeavours within the Department most notably the Ramosukula School project where he and his colleagues taught entrepreneurial skills to the learners of the school in 2018. Neston serves as a Visual Art and Design representative on the Faculty Research Ethics Committee.

Creative projects: Neston is currently busy working on a creative body of work exploring the concept of cancer as a malignant behaviour pattern within the Queer community. He was a part of Barclays L’Atelier Art competition in 2015 and exhibited at the regional exhibition held in Johannesburg. In 2017 he was a part of the international art competition hosted by SeeMe and ChaShaMa Gallery in New York where he was one of the top 10 finalists. He is also a part of the Bodutu gallery committee at the Vaal University of Technology.

Mr. Johannes Kotze
Lecturer (Graphic Design)

Ms. Leigh Thomas
Room No: K306

Leigh-Jeanne completed a Diploma in Graphic Design at the then Pretoria Technikon in 1992. 

Having gained 10 years’ experience in the advertising industry she decided to pursue a career in teaching and joined the Vaal University of Technology in 2003. In 2005, she completed a BTech degree: Graphic Design (Cum laude) and received an academic honours award in 2006. In 2008 and 2012 she received ‘Highest Award’ for the institutions annual RATE (Rectors Award for Teaching Excellence) Award. Leigh-Jeanne has served on a number of marketing and curatorial committees for the department and VUT over the years.  

Teaching activities: Leigh-Jeanne’s teaching interests and activities focus on graphic design principles and visual communication in a nurturing environment. She creates exciting and relevant projects and briefs that highlight current topics of interest and challenges the students to delve into research and interpretation of visual problems. The students are encouraged to develop unique creative solutions and exciting visual problem-solving outcomes. 

Research interests: Leigh-Jeanne’s research interests focus on art books, visual journaling, mood and vision boards. She is inspired by the powerful process of observing and physically recording visual stimuli as a tool to interpret and solve creative problems and unearth unique visual solutions. 

Supervision: Leigh-Jeanne has engaged in supervision of BTECH graphic design students. 

Community engagement: Leigh-Jeanne has served on the committees of the numerous community initiatives that have been implemented by the Visual Art and Design department. She has also developed various projects and opportunities for her students to engage with community as part of their learning experience. 

Ms. Leigh Thomas
Junior Lecturer (Graphic Design)

Mr. Wesley Turner
Room No: K313-1

Wesley Turner joined the department in June 2012 as Graphic Design Technician. He prepares labs for Graphic Design as well as other classes within the department. As a proud graduate of Vaal University of Technology, where he earned a B-Tech (Cum laude) in Graphic Design, he has experience working and supporting the relevant software needs within the department. In his other life, Wesley loves to stay up to date with current technology and Graphic Design trends.

Mr. Wesley Turner
Technician (Graphic Design)