Jack P. Sullivan

Graphic & Web Design

Senior Instructor, Graphic Design
The Art Institute of Phoenix

When you do good work, opportunities seem to find you. Jack P. Sullivan , Senior Instructor, Graphic Design
, The Art Institute of Phoenix

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

My first mentor was my high school art teacher. She suggested that I put my creative talent to use in the advertising industry, and advised me to get a degree in the field of graphic design. When she showed me samples of creative work that was being done in graphic design, that really appealed to me.

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

I still work as a professional in the field, which means I can share real-world situations like dealing with clients. We talk about what clients expect from us; more importantly, I tell students not to be hindered by any limitations that a client may impose. Once we establish that, they have plenty of creative freedom to do amazing work. And when you do good work, opportunities seem to find you.

What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?

In my package design class, students create a meal-to-box for a local restaurant. Each carrier box must contain four more boxes, each one holding an individual meal. So they have to decide the best size for the entree, side dishes, dessert, etc. Then comes the creative part of applying the theme to the boxes for a consistent look and feel—not just slapping a logo on the boxes. There are so many moving parts that it really forces the student to do their research first, then gather samples, then be able to execute that solution from both an engineering and design standpoint.

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

In the package design project, students take the role of art director and work with a Photography student on a tabletop photo shoot. They must turn in three photos: the outside box, the interior boxes and how they fit into the outside box, and a detail shot highlighting the typography, illustration, and other aspects. The teamwork involved helps them understand how things work in the real world.

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

It’s not enough to have great ideas. You have to make them work visually. Break your work down to its simplest form visually, and you’ll get the greatest results.

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

There are a lot of creative people out there, and some may be more creative than you. But if you can come up with good creative solutions and execute your design concepts, you’ll make yourself valuable.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I love the fact that the faculty here all share their strengths with each other to help students bring out their best.