Janet Leszczynski

Graphic & Web Design

Foundations Instructor
The Illinois Institute of Art — Chicago

Janet Leszczynski (AiChicago)

Developing solutions that go beyond the obvious solutions is critical to success and it is what I push my students to do. Janet Leszcynski , Foundations Instructor , The Illinois Institute of Art — Chicago

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

Creating art is something I have done for my entire life. There was no single, defining moment when I knew I would work in the arts.

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

Through my career I’ve learned that creative problem solving—developing solutions that go beyond the obvious solutions—is critical to success and it is what I push my students to do. Also, no matter how talented you are, you must work professionally—meet deadlines, present finished work that is neat and finely crafted, and be able to talk intelligently about the work. All of these are continually stressed throughout my classes.

What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?

Nearly all the projects I present begin with preliminary studies. Students are often used to coming up with an idea and then executing that one idea. If you do have a good idea, that’s a start. But, by reviewing, questioning, exploring iterations, and refining, the result will likely be more a thoughtful and successful concept or product.

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

Foundations classes are usually taken at the beginning of a student’s academic career. They work on basic skills that will prepare them for advancement into their selected area of study. So, at this point, collaboration means learning from the studio environment—how to give constructive feedback and suggestions to each other. This takes place informally during the process of developing projects. This exchange of ideas and viewpoints within a positive and supportive environment is a prominent component of the creative process and is critical to learn early.

What’s the most important thing you impart to students to help them succeed in class and the real world?

Success is about growth and continually striving to acquire stronger hands-on and creative problem solving skills.

What’s the most critical advice you would offer any student embarking on a creative career?

Manual and computer skills are tools that can be learned through practice, practice, practice, but what will sustain you in the fast-paced, ever-changing professional world is your ability to be a creative thinker and problem-solver. Strive to solve even the most mundane project with a solution that is interesting and unique.