Strategies & Insights

This New Book Tries to Fill in the Holes in Package Design Education

Posted: September 8, 2009 by
Marianne R. Klimchuk

Consider the fact that there are few packaging design baccalaureate degrees in the country. Most professional packaging designers grow into their prospective positions having been educated in graphic design or communication design. Certainly, there is an array of courses throughout the country that teach packaging design fundamentals. And recently at the high school level, packaging design and branding have been added to many art class curricula.

There is an extensive selection of undergraduate and graduate degrees in packaging engineering, technology, management, and science, and these programs and schools offer courses that many of us in the design side of the business should enroll. However, with the limited educational opportunities surrounding packaging design there are equally limited trade book or textbook resources that provide a student, designer, or marketer with the foundation of the discipline and the basics of the design process.

Over the years, I have received numerous inquiries from professionals seeking advice on where to find a manual or resource on the business of packaging design. In fact, one such call I received a year or so ago was from a designer that talked his way into an art director position in a packaging design firm only to discover that this field was completely different than the business of graphic design. The call included a request for a book that would serve as a guideline for an art director's approach to packaging design assignments or, better yet, a recommendation to a tutor that could bolster this person's skills and work with him on a private basis.

Those of us in the business know that graphic design and packaging design are two very different disciplines. Although they share similar characteristics, they are quite distinct. If you are reading this magazine, chances are that you already know what you need to know to get the job done. Maybe you went to school for design, marketing, branding, or communication, or maybe you are self-taught and you learned on the job over the years. Chances are you never really thought about how you learned what you know or considered what you really know or don't know. Whatever the case, there is always room to refresh, rethink, relearn.

Packaging Design: Successful Product Branding from Concept to Shelf (by Marianne R. Klimchuk and Sandra Krasovec; ISBN: 978-0471720164) aims to provide readers with a straightforward understanding of the process and business of packaging design. The book begins with a chapter that covers the history and background of the profession as we know it today, and snippets of interesting brand and product histories are mixed throughout. The book then continues through the phases of packaging design, the basics on materials, the professionals and their roles, and production and legal parameters.

The goal was to be a single resource and reference for anyone seeking concrete information about consumer product branding and packaging design. I hope you check our new book out, and feel free to provide us with feedback. As packaging design professionals and as educators my coauthor Sandy Krasovec and I are always seeking new case studies and professional examples of successful product branding from concept to shelf.

Marianne R. Klimchuk is the Associate Chairperson of the Packaging Design Department at the Fashion Institute of Technology, where she has written curriculum, taught courses, and directed the packaging program for 13 years. Marianne can be reached at