Graphic & Web Design
The Art Institute of Austin, a branch of The Art Institute of Houston
The bar has been raised. You need to constantly get better. Chase Quarterman , Assistant Professor , The Art Institute of Austin, a branch of The Art Institute of Houston
Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?
I knew from an early age that I wanted to do something creative. In elementary school, I was always drawing characters from my favorite cartoons. In high school, I drew comic strips for the school paper and helped teach art classes to younger kids. In college, I discovered my love of design and oil painting, which grew during a semester in London. The act of making something is truly fulfilling.
How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience?
My classroom is basically a client/creative setting. I am the "client," and I give creative briefs to the designers. I pull directly from my personal client experience—both good and bad—so we can discuss it class. I let them know that the profession is more than just creativity, it’s also about developing business, networking, and communication skills.
What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring, and how do you inspire students to push themselves beyond their perceived limits?
One of the most difficult assignments for students is the personal branding project in Portfolio 1. It’s their chance to "brand" themselves. They design a logo—symbol and typography—for their website, portfolio, business card, and collateral. It requires some soul-searching about who the student really...they have to encapsulate their entire self into one simple mark. It seems impossible at first. But eventually, they find something to latch on to. It’s a tough challenge for them, but it’s truly gratifying for me when a student finds what they’re looking for.
How does collaboration contribute to students’ success—particularly when students from various programs work together?
No designer is an island. The reality of the industry is that designers work with art directors, copywriters, creative directors, in-house bosses and clients of all kinds...the creative pro has to be a diplomat. I remind students that most rock bands break up because of creative differences—and the same can be true in our industry. The key is to build bridges, encourage one another, share differences of opinion, and respect the other person. It’s all about establishing camaraderie—and creating amazing work.
What’s the most important thing you impart to students to help them succeed in class and the real world?
Have a big, visual appetite. Be inspired by film, animation, books, typography, magazines, apps, billboards, websites, nature, packaging, signage, textures, industrial design, architecture, posters, everything.
What’s the most critical advice you would offer any student embarking on a creative career?
I believe that when students know what’s out there, and they get a little intimidated by the amazing work being produced by their "competition," they work hard to get better. The bar has been raised. You need to constantly get better.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I find that the sense of community in the classroom isn’t only important for the students’ creative life, but my own. The discussions, the energy, the critiques are all catalysts for exploration...and I use them when I'm dealing with clients. I hope this creative "community" extends beyond each student's time in my classrooms.