Stephen John Phillips

Digital Photography

Photography Instructor
The Art Institute of Pittsburgh — Online Division

Stephen John Phillips

Celebrate yourself and your art. Stephen John Phillips , Photography Instructor , The Art Institute of Pittsburgh — Online Division

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

Whether it was the first time I saw an Andy Warhol original at a museum, or the first Ad Council campaign that really spoke to me, I knew from a very early age that I wanted to be a visual communicator.

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

I think it’s very important that I share my professional life with students. I use everything from project proposals I’ve made to DC Comics to my gallery contacts, and make them all a part of the professional process. I’m a firm believer in keeping students current with trends by showing them visual examples on a regular basis.

What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?

One of my favorites revolves around creating a photograph that illustrates a cliché, a topical subject, or opposites.

In what way do you inspire students to push themselves beyond their own perceived limits?

I push them to look within and draw from their personal life experiences to find something truly unique.

How does collaboration contribute to students’ success?

Collaboration is key—I constantly stress the fact that students will be working with others throughout their career, and that they should be the kind of person that others enjoy working with.

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

Celebrate yourself and your art. If you do, others will follow. Make your work unique and something only you can do.

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

Meet deadlines, accept criticism, be willing to make changes, and constantly learn and grow as an artist.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I’ve grown to appreciate the one-on one online experience, and I find myself spending more time with individual students by way of phone, Skype, etc. then I ever did in a brick-and-mortar classroom.