Andrew Allen

Digital Photography

Interim Program Coordinator
The Art Institute of Charleston, a branch of The Art Institute of Atlanta

My goal is to have students create a beautiful and interesting world, filled with good design. Andrew Allen , Interim Program Coordinator
, The Art Institute of Charleston, a branch of The Art Institute of Atlanta

Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

Being accepted into the High School of Art & Design in New York City validated my talent. Being surrounded by classmates who shared my dedication and passion was just as important as the skills I learned, and it all carried over to my career as a graphic designer and photographer.

How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience?

Students enjoy real-life anecdotes—both my professional successes and my mishaps. My business experiences help give my students a clearer vision of the industry and open their eyes to opportunities they may not have realized before. Quick example: I tell students how I can create artwork in Charleston, digitally send it to Quebec, Canada, and have the finished printed material shipped to New York, all the while meeting the client’s deadline and expectations.

What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?

I enjoy giving a photographic assignment to students, asking them to “imitate” a famous photographer. They pick from a list of well-known artists and tackle an image. They learn how to do “hands-on” research correctly, understand how an image was created, and produce a realistic rendition of it. They learn about history, exposure, lighting and style—and how to communicate visually and articulate their choices.

How does collaboration contribute to students’ success—particularly when students from various programs work together?

I encourage students to collaborate with their peers through interdepartmental activities and assignments. Photography students gain confidence and skills working alongside Fashion and Culinary students as subjects or models, or by documenting their apparel or their dishes. Those students learn how to product-shoot in the studio, how to take a portrait, and also to photograph on location. They all benefit from seeing each other’s creativity and learn teamwork.

What’s your one piece of advice for a student embarking on a creative career?

Students come to school because they’re passionate about what they’re studying. My advice to them is to learn how to cope. One thing I can guarantee is that things may not always go smoothly. But the ability to cope, along with patience, will give you a better opportunity to succeed in all aspects of life.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I’m passionate about teaching. I believe my purpose is to help students gain confidence and to nurture their talents. My goal is to have them create a beautiful and interesting world, filled with good design.