“Knowing the right people” has long been a staple of success in the art world, and Art Institute of Pittsburgh is no exception. In fact, considering the proliferation of Art Institute of Pittsburgh graduates currently at work in various industries, the networking opportunities available to new and existing grads may just be the proof of that old adage. Doug Steinmiller (Visual Communications, ’87) is one such example of being in the right place at the right time – in this case, the office of Alumni Coordinator Dave DiBella.
When Steinmiller paid DiBella a visit one day in 2004, his portfolio was so impressive that DiBella emailed it to top Reebok designer Tom Hoover (Visual Communications, ’85) on the spot. Before they’d finished their conversation, they were interrupted by a phone call – from Reebok, looking for Doug Steinmiller.
Fast-forward one year and Steinmiller is celebrating his first anniversary as a graphic artist under the Reebok banner. He’s produced several striking pieces since that fateful day in DiBella’s office, including the first t-shirt design for Pittsburgh’s latest sports star, phenomenal Penguins rookie Sidney Crosby. Grateful as he is for his exciting career, Steinmiller knows it was much more than the product of proper networking; talent and persistence played their parts as well.
“I always knew I could sustain myself in an art-based career,” says Steinmiller. “I've been drawing my whole life. That is what I have always wanted to do, [but] it wasn't until high school that I knew what direction I wanted to go with my art.”
Like so many artists looking for guidance, Steinmiller found the feedback from his instructors was invaluable.
“In my Senior year,” Steinmiller recalls, “I enrolled in the Commercial Art class at WE-MO-CO BOCES vocational school. My instructor, Peter Botsis, was a key factor in helping to develop my artistic skills, influencing my style and preparing me with the knowledge I needed to take the next step in my art career.”
From there, Steinmiller followed the well-worn path from vo-tech to Art Institute of Pittsburgh, where he happily learned that guidance and feedback were in abundance.
“Every art class I had over the years contributed, to a certain degree, to the development of my style,” explains Steinmiller. “Specifically, I remember really having a better focus of my style in a painting class taught by Helen Webster.
“The learning process and influences continue to this day, with the people I work with, the books I read, museums I visit. My style will always be developing.”
Thanks to skill and serendipity, Steinmiller is in the perfect position to continue his evolution as an illustrator, a realization that’s in perfect accord with the path he always expected to follow. As he admits, unlike the “fallback” mentality of so many other artists, “there was no alternate plan if I didn’t make it as a graphic designer.”