Debbie Rose-Myers

Graphic & Web Design

Chair of Design
The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale

Debbie Rose-Myers, Headshot, Chair of Design

I remember telling my parents that I would be a teacher as early as 9th grade. Debbie Rose-Myers , Chair of Design , The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale
What would you say is the defining moment in your life when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

When I was in third grade, my parents received my report card and they weren’t happy. I had earned C’s in all of my classes and, to add insult to injury, they read that I was too talkative (imagine that!) and disruptive in class. The report card also stated that I would never be anything but a C student. But then, there was Frieda Rubenstein—my 4th and 6th grade teacher. Every Friday, she would make a game out of math. We would play the addition and subtraction game by rows. Each row went up to the black board and wrote 4 or 5 rows of numbers to be added or subtracted. The first person to complete the math and get back to their seat was a semi winner. The winner from each row competed for the final prize—a piece of candy! I was so competitive, I wanted that candy! This teacher made me think not only about math but what fun education could be! I think that from that time forward, I wanted to teach. I found that my grades improved, not because of the candy, but because I had discovered that I could learn and get good grades. From that point on, I was a great student and became more involved in my classes. I remember telling my parents that I would be a teacher as early as 9th grade.

How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience to provide an industry veteran's sense of the realities / challenges / opportunities of the profession?

I never allow students to stay inside their comfort zone. The first year and a half of course study helps students to find the place where they are the most comfortable when creating art. In the second year and a half of study, especially in graphic design, I’ve created a series of classes designed to challenge the student’s sense of aesthetics. We have a class in creative typography and a class that looks back at the last 150 years of design movements specifically in graphic design and related art areas. It’s very exciting when you watch a student create a piece that is completely different than the style they normally use.

When I have a difficult client I tell the students all about it. I describe how I addressed the issue and if there was a successful resolution. Sometimes there isn’t and I tell them that, as well. You can only learn by doing and, of course, by satisfying your client. That’s what I want my students to learn.

Is there a class assignment that exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring? Similarly, how does your approach inspire each student to push themselves beyond their own perceived limits?

Research, research, research! Look at the magazine Communication Arts. It’s a fabulous magazine. Look at the design annuals. Go online and research global design. What types of typography are being used in Europe, Asia and Latin America? Go back and look at the different movements in graphic design and allow your creative mind to synthesize that new information to create your own unique layouts.

What role does collaboration contribute to students' success, especially when students from other programs contribute to the same project?

Working in groups in a collaborative way isn’t theoretical, it’s practical. You must be able to explain your vision in a way that others can understand. It’s especially important in the web design area. A designer must be able to articulate the needs of the client to others in the field, including web and print design.

Be flexible and laugh. Almost every employer I’ve ever interviewed has told me that they would rather have a good designer with a great disposition then a great designer with a lousy disposition. You need to be able to laugh at yourself when you make mistakes and play nice with others.

In your opinion, what is the single most important thing you impart to your students to help them succeed in your class and in the real world? Alternatively, what is the most critical advice you would offer any student as he / she embarks on a creative career?

Take long showers? LOL. Seriously, there are so many wonderful books and websites on the subject of creativity and problem solving, I hardly know where to begin (thus the shower reference)! I find that the more relaxed I am, the better I am at processing ideas. My one great secret? Let the client talk...and talk and talk and talk! The more I hear, the more I tend to “see” a visual solution in my head.

Successful companies such as Target, Starbucks, and MacDonald’s have created a brand. That brand is the essence of their core clientele. There is an emotional connection made between company and consumer. The consumer may expect a certain quality or consistency of product, or perhaps the company represents a lifestyle that the consumer wishes for himself or herself. In other words, a perfect brand creates a bond that when properly maintained is hard to break. You are a brand, as well. Your “product” is your art and to be successful in your business, you must create that same bond between you, and your consumer—your client. What is it about you that is unique? Once you identify that defining feature—be it your type design or your writing style—it’s that one special feature that you bring to each and every job that brands you. That brand must always be maintained. Don’t mess up a job just because the client's annoying. You never know who that client is a friend with in your community. A reputation takes a lifetime to build, but only one bad job to destroy!

Is there anything else you'd like us to know about you, your experience, or your role as a faculty member at The Art Institutes?

Deal with creative failure. 
I learned that you can have a failure and move on. I’ve learned that you can take that creative failure and sometimes revisit it at later time and a new solution will present itself to you. You just have to keep an open mind and not allow your frustration to keep you from moving forward.