UW–Madison graduate student Tamara McLean describes augmented reality (AR) as “the future” of graphic design.

AR refers to interactive experiences that combine the real world with computer-generated content. One example of AR in action is the popular game Pokémon GO, where users “catch” virtual Pokémon characters that are overlayed in real locations.

But AR is not limited to mobile phone games. Increasingly it is being used in a variety of fields, including education, retail, tourism, health care, and advertising.

“Graphic design has moved from print to the web, and with that, it’s moved into motion design, which is a complement to video,” says McLean, a master of fine arts candidate with the School of Education’s Art Department. “And now with the invention of the Vision Pro (mixed-reality headset) by Apple, it’s going to be layered onto reality.”

To be job and career ready, McLean believes that undergraduate graphic design students should know how to design for AR. She recently presented a paper, “AR for the Graphic Design Classroom,” at the prestigious Society for Experiential Graphic Design (SEGD) Academic Summit 2023 in June, which explores how AR can be integrated within graphic design curricula.

“This is historic art and design research for the Art Department and the School of Education,” says Yeohyun Ahn, an assistant professor in the Art Department. “I appreciate Tamara McLean for this research contribution to UW communities. It is also the first time a graduate student in graphic design in the School of Education has published a research paper in the SEGD journal, Communication + Place, which was founded in 1973.”