Josette Starks-Van, M.S., B.S.

Graphic & Web Design

Graphic Design Instructor
The Art Institute of Indianapolis

Josette Starks-Van, M.S., B.S.

I have high expectations of my students and I will not accept anything less. Josette Starks-Van , Graphic Design Instructor , The Art Institute of Indianapolis
What would you say is the defining moment in your life when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

My high school junior year career choice of becoming an architect was denied due to lack of math classes. I was placed in a Graphic/Printing course, unaware of the nature of the course or the impact it would have on my life. That missed opportunity of becoming an architect led me to a higher calling—a graphic designer—and was my defining moment.

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 provide my work-related learning experiences from my own freelance business, StarksVan Design. Within my organization I produce high-end web portal prototypes for major companies, branding concepts, marketing materials and much more. By providing these experiences, I give opportunities in which all students may participate in high quality education, industry-related projects/labs that prepare them for future employment, and lifelong learning skills.

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?

I inspire my students by giving them some ownership of the classroom. I give ownership by not making all the decisions, but allowing my students to make mistakes. But, more importantly, to learn from their mistakes. I try to focus on the process of learning and not just working. Being able to take what you have learned and apply it to other projects successfully is the outcome of successful learning/teaching. I have high expectations of my students and I will not accept anything less.

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

Collaboration is the key to any successful project and it’s a vital part of real-word experiences. When it comes to working on a major design project, its success depends on a team with different points of views collaborating towards one common goal, and that is to have a productive, pleasing, and functional project. Students need to learn often and early that collaboration is a daily recipe for a good meal! 

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?

Taking pride in everything you do and performing to the highest level you are capable of performing.

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?

My greatest joy is when a student exceeds my expectations and is proud of their own accomplishments.