Vanessa Langton


Work hard and always give your best—your work is a direct representation of yourself and your abilities! Vanessa Langton , Adjunct Faculty, Art History , 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?

As a kid I made drawings regularly. When fellow students and teachers began to recognize my potential, I thought maybe there was something to art and creative expression. My mother nurtured my interests in art by taking me to museums regularly to look at the works of great artists and she bought me art supplies to practice. I knew very young that I could not live without art and art history in my life.

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?

Prior to teaching art history I worked as a graphic designer and I know what it is like to be an ambitious art student trying to prep a portfolio to hunt for a job. As an art historian, I also know how important it is to be able to describe your artwork through written and spoken words. Through art history, students learn not only about different eras in art, but they also learn how to talk about art. These skills can be applied to any area of study—graphic design, the culinary arts, game art design, photography, etc.

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?

At the end of each quarter, my students are required to give an oral presentation. Not only does the student have to research a specific artist or art era, but they have to put together a slide show, a script, and present this to a room of their peers. This pushes the student towards a goal as they are faced with a deadline.

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

Perhaps when students are assigned to work together they end up discussing their chosen areas of studies through a critical point of view and look beyond the surface to acquire meaning. They could question the who, what, and why using methods of formal analysis to all areas of the creative spectrum.

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?

Work hard and always give your best—your work is a direct representation of yourself and your abilities!