Patricia V. Tobin, Ph. D.
The Art Institute of Pittsburgh — Online Division
Stay confident in your abilities, and be open to different career options. Patricia V. Tobin , Foundations Instructor , The Art Institute of Pittsburgh — Online Division
Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?
My interest in visual art really took off when I took a high school painting class. My wonderful instructor encouraged me to pursue art professionally. It was in his class that I first truly considered art as a profession. The mentorship and tutelage of many teachers and others helped me to forge my path as a creative professional, and helped me to gain the desire and confidence to become an art educator.
How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience?
I believe education opens the door for those who choose to embrace its challenges. My lessons focus on preparing students for the realities of life outside of the classroom. I encourage them to discover their own unique style and area of artistic interest, and to never stop learning. I also talk about the option of becoming an art educator so they can pass their passion and skills on to the next generation of artists.
What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring—and how do you inspire students to push themselves beyond their own perceived limits?
I use the online class assignment threads as a way to encourage dialogue with students. Given the opportunity for discussion and input, they generate ideas and set goals that make for much richer activities than I could’ve imagined myself. When students feel a sense of ownership in an assignment, they’re motivated to work hard and master the skills necessary to not only reach their goals, but push themselves further than they expected.
How does collaboration contribute to students’ success—particularly when students from various programs work together?
I encourage teamwork to motivate students to broaden their skills, knowledge, and points-of-view. Sharing knowledge and working together to solve problems leads to a deeper understanding of the material—especially when the groups consist of students from different programs, backgrounds, and experiences.
What’s the most important thing you impart to students to help them succeed in class and the real world?
Become an independent thinker. Learn how to find answers to questions on your own.
What’s the most critical advice you would offer any student embarking on a creative career?
Stay confident in your abilities, and be open to different career options. For instance, instead of focusing solely on becoming a traditional artist, consider a career as an illustrator, graphic designer, photographer, fashion designer, or cartoonist.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Teaching online courses has offered me the first-hand experience of working with great individuals throughout the country.