Rich Loke

Rich Loke

Don’t be afraid to explore, even if it’s not your most comfortable zone. Rich Loke , Faculty , The Art Institute of San Antonio, a branch of The Art Institute of Houston

What would you say is the defining moment in your life when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

I have always been drawn to creative things my whole life. But I have never seriously thought about a career in creative arts until 1996 when I discovered something called web design, where design meets technology. I knew right then this would be my life work.

How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience to provide an industry veteran's sense of the realities / challenges / opportunities of the profession?

I often infuse in my class instructions with a blend of theories and real-world applications. I share with students my own personal experiences from working in the industry as well as class projects that simulate a real client/designer/developer scenario in a studio setting. In addition, I also bring in monthly industry workshops to campus so students get a chance to hear from professionals, not just from instructors. I also collaborate with career services quarterly organizing field trips to design studios and agencies. Students appreciate it because not only do they get to understand what employers expect of them but also an opportunity for them to network.

Is there a class assignment that exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring? Similarly, how does your approach inspire each student to push themselves beyond their own perceived limits?

Many web projects require brainstorming sessions in multi stages. So for every session each student is required, for example, to post their ideas on the wall for class discussions as if they are actually in the design studio. This not only helps them to gain confidence in talking about their work out loud but also learn to accept criticism and challenge themselves to become a better designer.

What role does collaboration contribute to students' success, especially when students from other programs contribute to the same project?

When students collaborate as a team in a class project, they take on roles that are actually in a studio or agency setting. The great thing about this is they get to exercise the responsibilities in the roles they played. So no matter what program a student may come from, there will be a role they can play because each has something they can bring to the table. My job is to ensure each team is well balanced so that students have an enjoyable experience while learning to work with others, coordinate workflow, follow directives, problem solving and, most importantly, meeting deadlines.

In your opinion, what is the single most important thing you impart to your students to help them succeed in your class and in the real world? Alternatively, what is the most critical advice you would offer any student as he / she embarks on a creative career?

We have a lot of talented students at The Art Institute of San Antonio. My advice is to keep challenging yourself no matter how talented you are. Don’t be afraid to explore, even if it’s not your most comfortable zone. I truly believe talent shouldn’t just stop there. It should be encouraged to grow and explore.

Is there anything else you'd like us to know about you, your experience, or your role as a faculty member at The Art Institutes?

If I can inspire students to be what they hope to become during their journey at The Art Institute of San Antonio my role is fulfilled as a faculty member.  It is amazing to watch them grow after they leave the college in their careers.