Deny Ehrlich

Deny Ehrlich

Students need to think globally as a designer. Deny Ehrlich , Adjunct Faculty, Design , The Art Institute of California—San Diego, a campus of Argosy University
What would you say is the defining moment in your life when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

When I was in high school taking art classes one of my father’s clients, Don Watt and his wife, were top graphic designers in Canada. My father urged me to meet them and visit their studio. From just seeing the designers studio, Pantone markers, tools of the trade, and sketches on the table I had my ah-ha moment. 

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

Simplistically, when I wake up in the morning, everything is about design. My life is design so it dominates my professional career and teaching naturally. It is part of everything I do. 
I tell my clients and students that I don’t speak English, I design it. I think about branding problems for my students to solve constantly and often source ideas for my lesson plans from real-world products. 

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?

I observe the various levels of the students and diversely challenge how I can help them reach their own maximum potentials by the end of the term. I always find that, at the end of the term, I am impressed with the collection of work that my students produce. This happens in every class. 

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

There is no question—collaboration is the norm in the real world. In school, the important thing is that students learn to constructively critique each other and that, in itself, is a form of collaboration. They are working together and learning other people’s perspective. You always need others. The best of you comes out when you are 
amongst others and constructive critiquing. The opportunity to brainstorm and test directions is invaluable. It allows students to practice dealing with different levels of designers and personalities.

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?

I am very much a realist, therefore, to combine what you love and be able to support yourself, is the goal. On the other hand, when I have a student who aspires to do something that will not allow large reimbursements; I encourage them to keep pursuing that dream, while they find an avenue within the industry that will provide security and some satisfaction. 
Students need to think globally as a designer. Research design across the world and be aware that the marketplace is connected and global.