Margaret Helthaler

Media Arts & Animation

Lead Faculty, Media Arts & Animation
The Art Institute of Pittsburgh — Online Division

Online Lead Faculty, Media Arts & Animation Margaret Helthaler

Design is more about solving problems than making things look nice. Margaret Helthaler , Lead Faculty, Media Arts & Animation , 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 finished my freshman year at a liberal arts college, and was taking time off to find my direction. A department store owner took a chance on a 19-year-old with a high school portfolio and gave me a job in the advertising department. It was a great learning experience. I went back to college two years later to pursue my BFA in graphic design.

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

I’ve worked in graphic design for nearly 30 years, so I offer students the kind of real-world insights that can help them pursue their goals and objectives.

What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?

In every course, and with every assignment, I encourage students to take ownership of the learning process by asking questions instead of waiting for me to give them the answers.

How does collaboration contribute to students’ success—particularly when students from various programs work together?

Teamwork offers wonderful learning opportunities—especially when students from different programs contribute to the same project. You never know whom you might learn from.

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

Keep asking why. And strive to find a specific reason for your choices. Design is more about solving problems than making things look nice. Learn to think.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Like many of our students, I had to balance work, family, and school.