Kristi Backman

Graphic & Web Design

Design Foundations Instructor
The Art Institute of Colorado

VisualDesign

To succeed in any creative field, you need an endless supply of creativity and tenacity. Kristi Backman , Design Foundations Instructor , The Art Institute of Colorado

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

When I was young, my father, a landscape architect, let me draw on the back of his old plans. They were bigger than I was, but it was my favorite thing to do. The first day of kindergarten, we were asked what we wanted to be when we grew up...I said I was going to be an artist.

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

I draw upon both good and bad experiences I’ve had as a professional—they’re both instructive. We discuss some of the pitfalls and challenges a creative faces, and ways to deal with or avoid them. I also talk about the joys and rewards of living the dream.

What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?

After introducing a new concept, I have students experiment and explore the possibilities. Then we discuss the results of these experiments, and I assign a more formal project using these concepts. Once the project is complete, we evaluate the design solutions as a group. This interaction challenges them to perform to the best of their ability. If a student hasn’t grasped a concept or realized its full potential, they have an opportunity to refine it. The emphasis is on achieving success and solving problems—which is the core of creativity.

How does collaboration contribute to students’ success?

Creative disciplines, especially the ones taught here, are based on collaboration. Design requires teamwork, and while the tendency to work alone may be instinctive, true creativity evolves with the mingling of minds and ideas. Collaboration allows feedback and insight that inform concepts and lead to amazing results.

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

To succeed in any creative field, you need an endless supply of creativity and tenacity.