William Mead

William Mead

I had to be constantly making something. It is like breathing to me. William Mead , Faculty , The Art Institute of California—Sacramento, a campus of Argosy University
Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

I don't think I ever really had much choice in the matter. I was creative from an early age, and as I grew up, I had to be constantly making something. It is like breathing to me, and when I am not engaged in the creative process, I start to get anxious. I never thought much about being a "professional," but what else was I going to do?

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

Every project I do for a real client provides me with a wealth of information to give to students. I’m able to share these crazy, real-life problems and the useful solutions I used to solve them. This is unique because one would never think of these kinds of situations in a strictly academic setting. Since I am mostly focused on teaching, I do less work for clients these days, but I have a tremendous amount of connections in the industry. I’m able to help our students make great matches for internships and jobs. That is one of the most satisfying aspects of my day-to-day work at The Art Institute.

What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring? 

I like assignments that provide tangible examples of how students can use their skills to create something unique and well-crafted. I then take those examples and modify them and push them further to do something else that is a little further outside the box. This is how I try to inspire students to be innovative. But it’s done in baby steps so they can see that through hard work and an iterative process their projects will improve.

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

The new economy is made up of teams. Students always grumble when you announce a group project, but one of the most important things students need to learn is how to work on a team. We have all experienced dysfunctional teams, and we know how hard it can be to rely on others. It is risky, but when you successfully combine the skills of different individuals on a project, the payoff for everyone can be very rewarding. When you can successfully cross disciplines and make cross-functional teams work well, true magic can happen.

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

Innovation and great projects come from hard work and iteration. Keep practicing, keep pushing to make your work better and it will get better. Look to ideas outside your field of study for inspiration and continue to ask questions. Find great people to work with that you can learn from, or who inspire you. Be open to options and opportunities and love what you do. All these elements make up the winning combination that will open doors and propel your career forward.

Anything else?

I am extremely proud of the work we do at The Art Institute. The past eight years have provided countless opportunities for me to be creative, learn from, and help students grow and get excited about the Web Design and Development fields. The connections I have made in the industry and with our students as they work through our program and enter the industry have been the most rewarding in my professional career. Every single graduation is the best day of my life.