Shawn O'Mara

Graphic & Web Design

Graphic Design Instructor
The Art Institute of Pittsburgh

Shawn O

You need to be in love with graphic design and this industry. Shawn O'Mara , Graphic Design Instructor , The Art Institute of Pittsburgh

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

That was when I first started here at Ai Pittsburgh, and I found out that people actually get paid to do what they love.

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

I own a design studio on the South Side. So my classroom lectures are based on the real world, drawing from my professional work and my interactions with my clients. I make sure that my coursework reflects the changes in the industry.

What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?

All my assignments focus on brainstorming and coming up with concepts. I think pushing students to deliver solid concepts and tight thumbnails can help them achieve personal success.

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

Several of my classes, like Design Studio (a simulated ad agency) and PGHYOU magazine (a publication- building class), bring students from different majors together. They get hands-on practice working with other professionals, which they’ll need when they enter the workforce.

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

You need to be in love with graphic design and this industry. But don’t fall in love with any of your designs, because it all comes down to what the client loves.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I’ve taught here for over 25 years. I’m so proud of all the amazing designers that I’ve helped to enter their dream career field.