Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?
As an undergraduate, taking introductory fine art courses, I had great instructors who were encouraging and generous with their time and knowledge. That was pivotal for me, both creatively at the time and now as a professional, and it’s something I’ve always tried to pass along to my students.
How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience?
Living and working in New York gave me a well-rounded experience. I've worked directly with clients and as part of a design team, held several managerial positions in the arts, and worked in production and set design for film and photography. I use examples from each of those experiences to stress the need to be self-motivated and plan ahead...so you’re not just solving immediate challenges, but considering how individual pieces fit into the fabric of the larger piece.
What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?
I like challenging students to create a product over an extended period of time, and really take ownership of it. In perspective drawing, for example, students are given what I call a "shell." I take them through the steps to set up a project in one, two, or three-point perspective, and challenge them to find their own design solutions—and really own their work.
How does collaboration contribute to students’ success?
Although most of the projects I assign are individual-based, I like to involve students in thoughtful and constructive ways to critique their peers’ work. To me, that’s just as vital as the feedback they get from me.
What’s the most important thing you impart to students to help them succeed in class and the real world?
Work well on your own, but also be a good collaborator...you’ll have to do both to succeed in almost any profession.
What’s the most critical advice you would offer any student embarking on a creative career?
The most successful students have a good blend of determination, preparedness, and tenacity. I like the saying, "Luck favors the prepared mind."
Anything else you’d like to share?
Getting to teach students from almost every program is a wonderful experience. And it’s rewarding to re-connect with former students and see how they’ve grown professionally and personally.