William D. Ward

VisualDesign

Find your passion. And appreciate the opportunity to do creative work for a living. William D. Ward , Graphic & Web Design Instructor , The Art Institute of Dallas, a branch of Miami International University of Art & Design

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

I was always drawing and copying pictures as a kid. My dad was a salesman, and I just couldn’t connect with that career. In junior college I wasn’t attracted to any classes that didn’t involve drawing. I thought I’d become an Illustrator, but I found I had more of a passion for graphic design, so that became my career path.

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

There’s really no other way for me to teach than to share my work experiences and intertwine them with my projects. I make those projects relatable to students so they understand what will be expected of them in the real world. I let them know that, while I assign the kind of topics they have a passion for, most professional work is based on wanting to dig deeper and learn more about their clients. To me, we’re more “puzzle creators” than “puzzle solvers” as we try to break through the clutter to get consumers to notice our work.

What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?

Most of my larger projects follow my method of teaching the creative process. We start with competitive research. Next comes the ideation phase, where students take a 360-degree view of the project to verbalize and visualize ways of looking at the communication problem. Then they start thumbnails and find samples of techniques to help them tighten their thinking. Finally, after much discussion, they start comping up their projects.

In what way do you inspire students to push themselves beyond their own perceived limits?

I ask students to come up with multiple solutions. If they have difficulty, I help them brainstorm or break into groups so they can get feedback on their ideas. I always point them to professional work as examples of the level they need to achieve to get the jobs and projects that’ll challenge them and help them grow.

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

Always push yourself and dig deep to find as many solutions as you can in the time you’ve been given—whether it’s for instructors, employers, or clients.

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

Find your passion. And appreciate the opportunity to do creative work for a living. This is a challenging and sometimes stressful career, but I can’t imagine doing anything else.