Dr. Natalie Hruska
Graphic & Web Design
Graphic & Web Design Instructor
The Art Institute of Pittsburgh — Online Division
It's all about the journey and where you end up... which might not be what you had in mind. Dr. Natalie Hruska , Graphic & Web Design Instructor , The Art Institute of Pittsburgh — Online Division
Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?
I’d had a variety of jobs—from landscaper to data entry to tour guide. But I always knew I had a creative energy that couldn’t be quelled. Some bosses were kind enough to let me use my artistic side on occasion, but I always knew I needed more.
How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience?
I don’t promise students anything. It’s all about the journey and where you end up—which might not be what you had in mind. I tell them to spend time volunteering in their industry. The benefits are enormous—you add references, gain skills, grow your network, and open doors to new and unexpected opportunities.
What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?
I like the first assignments in every class, where students have to come up with an idea for their projects. There‘s so much competition online now, and a world of opportunity to do something better, find a niche market, and beat that competition. So I encourage students to think of something completely unique—a website, app, kiosk, animation, something nobody’s ever done. It makes the project more about the student than just getting a grade.
How does collaboration contribute to students’ success—particularly when students from various programs work together?
When students work as part of a team, they get valuable experience before they enter the real world. Working on a project team as a designer, developer, project manager, or any other role lets them test the waters without having to commit for the long term. I’ve led a few special projects classes, and when it works—when you have a good team—it’s magical.
What’s the most important thing you impart to students to help them succeed in class and the real world?
I ask students to think back to when they were kids...when every summer day was a story waiting to happen. I think work, school, and life should still feel that way...have the same passion and excitement. When I ask students to think about their project ideas, I share this quote...
"The gladdest moment in human life, methinks, is a departure into unknown lands. The blood flows with the fast circulation of childhood."
—Sir Richard Burton