Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?
I've always loved all forms of art from as far back as high school. Later, I applied my fine art skills to commercial enterprises, creating mural designs, posters, and ads, as well as stage designs for corporate presentations. The door was always open and lucrative within the graphic design field. I've always felt it let me experience a wonderful sense of accomplishment.
How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience?
I show students my portfolio to give them a sense of the kind of work they’ll be expected to do in their project assignments. We discuss my real-world experiences with clients, both good and bad, to help them develop a practical, professional approach to doing business, pricing, and learning time management. Also, I encourage students to enhance their technological skills to keep up with the industry.
What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?
My class assignments reflect my approach to teaching, mentoring and education. I incorporate the industry of design, print production, the digital arena, and the background technology, and tie it all together to help students create work that's worthy of their portfolios. I've seen innumerable success stories, and I’ve have always relished the opportunity to be a part of their success.
How does collaboration contribute to students’ success—particularly when students from various programs work together?
Collaboration is mandatory. In every project, the "account executive" acts as liaison between client and graphic designer, photographer, web designer, illustrator, copywriter, and so on. Everyone knows who's doing what, and group critique ensures the success of the project. Often, we see the design develop into something way beyond what the client initially approved.
What’s the most important thing you impart to students to help them succeed in class and the real world?
Here’s my philosophy, which has sustained me through the years: The principles of success are grounded in a firm base of hard work and dedication. Students are responsible and accountable for the success of their own education. There are no free rides or free grades. All grades are earned. Work hard and be diligently dedicated.
What’s the most critical advice you would offer any student embarking on a creative career?
Be responsible. Be accountable. And welcome to reality.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I’ve had the honor and pleasure of teaching, working with, energizing, and inspiring students since 1986.