Russell Burt

Graphic & Web Design

Graphic & Web Design Instructor
The Art Institute of California—Hollywood, a campus of Argosy University

Russell Burt

Life will take you in different directions. Be prepared for that, and embrace it. Russell Burt , Graphic & Web Design Instructor , The Art Institute of California—Hollywood, a campus of Argosy University

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

I’ve known since high school, as a keyboard player in rock bands, that my career path had to include creative work.

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

I try to foster creativity, while establishing firm deadlines and encouraging hard work at the beginning of a project to avoid panic at the end. Focus is important...professional work requires steady progress and an even temperament. That can be difficult for college students as they learn to balance life and work. I encourage them to measure success in small achievements on a weekly, daily, and even hourly basis. I also stress that change is constant in our industry, and learning should never end.

What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?

I show students how to use a tool, and work through a few problems with it. Then I encourage them to explore their creative side by applying critical thinking skills to an assignment using that tool. For example, the Photoshop Pen tool takes a while to master, so in class we work on just the mechanics by tracing photos/text/shapes. Then I’ll have them develop a concept piece using a photo of a famous statue, working their own interpretation and mood into the image to add depth and meaning.

How does collaboration contribute to students’ success?

In the workplace, you’ll work with others every day, on every project. You need to learn how to work with anyone, regardless of background or ability. Listening, exploring others’ ideas and contributions, learning to accept criticism of your work, and understanding that there’s more than one way to design something...those are all important benefits of collaboration.

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

Professionals show up on time. Professionals work hard and deliver their work on time. Professionals don’t bring problems from home to work. Be professional.

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

Life will take you in different directions. Be prepared for that, and embrace it.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I love learning new things every day, meeting new people in every class, making friends, and seeing students grow and blossom into professionals and captains of industry. I’m never bored!