The staff at the Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design gets that becoming a career artist requires more than just skills classes and finalizing portfolios (though those are also important): The best artists are able to analyze differing perspectives of the world and then distill them into images or words in an effort to explain, contradict, or start a conversation. Which is part of the reason why the school launched its Visiting Artist, Scholar, and Designer (VASD) Program. The interdisciplinary series engages students in conversations inside (workshops, studio visits, or critiques) and outside the classroom (lectures, performances), all based around a yearly theme. (The public is invited to attend any non-class-related events.) This year’s focus: humor.

“One of the most interesting points of affinity that unites comedians, artists, and designers is creative risk-taking and dedication to craft. Humor is often best when risking offense or being surprising and unexpected. Like artists, comedians spend entire careers refining and continually improving their craft,” says Gretchen Schaefer, VASD program director. “I think comedy, art, and design are sister endeavors.”

Beyond complementing students’ studies, VASD continually introduces them to people who are making a living in creative professions. The visiting scholars are typically on campus for a few days, capping their trips with public presentations. The first fall lecture takes place on Tuesday, September 29 at 7 p.m. Peter McGraw—a marketing and psychology professor at the University of Colorado Boulder and co-author of The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny—and user experience designer Chelsey Delaney will chat onstage about what makes things funny, the pros and cons of using humor in art and design, and more. Though the event is free, the RMCAD’s historic Mary Harris Auditorium has limited seating, so be sure to RSVP for the hour-long (or so) event. If not, everyone else will be laughing while you’re stuck outside.

Find the full lineup for the VASD humor series here.

Daliah Singer
Daliah Singer
Daliah Singer is an award-winning writer and editor based in Denver. You can find more of her work at