Jennifer Gittings

Jennifer Gittings

Theodore Roosevelt said, "Comparison is the thief of joy." You will never be happy as an artist if you compare your work to others. Jennifer Gittings , Adjunct Faculty, Fashion 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?

In high school, when I was trying to decide what major to declare for college, my choices came down to theater or mathematics. I was seriously considering going into mathematics but I couldn't see a career path. I ended up going to UCLA as a theater major and was overwhelmingly happy with the instructors and design courses. 
What appeals to me most is the opportunity to tell a story using visual language.

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?

In teaching fashion illustration, I bring a stack of the theatrical renderings that I have done for various shows. I show those to the students and let them analyze and critique them. In the advanced class, I have them sort them by medium to decipher the techniques used in creation. They are useful for the beginning classes because theatrical renders use an eight head scale vs. fashion illustrations, which use a nine to ten head scale. This demonstrates that there is more than one way to draw the same thing and lends to the philosophy that students need to develop their own individual drawing style. 

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?

In my final for Introduction to Fashion Illustration, each student had to create six final sketches, head to toe. The challenge was to design a line targeted towards their chosen audience and demonstrating an expression of their own fashion philosophy. They had to include particular garments. 

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

It's everything. In fashion you cannot help but be inspired by what you are seeing. Observation is one of the most powerful tools as an artist. Looking at other classmates work and hearing what they feel about it and what they see their strengths are versus what you see, gives you another perspective. Peer critique plays a huge role in growing as artist. 

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?

Theodore Roosevelt said, "Comparison is the thief of joy." You will never be happy as an artist if you compare your work to others. You need to focus on your own product and work and continue to challenge yourself. Another piece of advice—get it out of your head and on the page. It could be the most brilliant idea in the world but if you don't put it on the page, it can never be appreciated. 

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?

I have been a professional theatrical designer for over twenty years. Locally, I have designed costumes for The Old Globe, La Jolla Playhouse, San Diego Rep, Cygnet Theater to name a few. I am the Design Ambassador for MOXIE Theatre. Recently, I won the 2016 San Diego Theatre Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Costume Design. 

Additional accolades include two San Diego Theatre Critics Circle Craig Noel Awards for Outstanding Costumes, the Beverly Hills/Hollywood NAACP Theatre Award for Best Costumes, and a Patté Award for Theater Excellence in Outstanding Costume Design.  I have been repeatedly recognized for Outstanding Achievement in Costume Design by Stage Scene LA, and was named “Designer of the Year” by the San Diego Reader in 2008.