Sharon Kaitner, M.Ed.

Graphic & Web Design

Graphic & Web Design Instructor
The Art Institute of California—San Francisco, a campus of Argosy University

Graphic & Web Design Instructor Sharon Kaitner

Most people sleepwalk through life. Wake up. Get out. Think. Walk around without a phone. Experience life. It all contributes to your art. Sharon Kaitner, M.Ed. , Graphic & Web Design Instructor
, The Art Institute of California—San Francisco, a campus of Argosy University

Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

There was never a defining moment, but rather a lot of little ones that said, "Here; this is where you feel most alive, this is where you feel most like you."

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

I offer real-world tips and tricks, and shape discussions and critiques with that same sense of reality. But most of all, I try to teach students to think...to connect the dots and find their own way. It's an ongoing conversation. Those who take what’s offered and build on it with their own drive and vision are the ones that succeed.

What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?

I often like sending design students outside to observe and report, usually as a way of exploring personas and user-centered design. Our location in the Civic Center area of San Francisco offers plenty of people-watching opportunities. Students invent a narrative back-story of a person, which leads to a discussion of how our perceptions affect how we design, whether our observations are enough for an understanding of our target audience, and how to measure and correct for our bias.

How do you inspire students to push themselves beyond their perceived limits?

I'll see in those students faces a flash of delight in some new thought as they go off to do more research about what it means to design for their target audience, to go beyond what they think, to realize that there’s so much more to their world. Then they learn more than I could ever hope to teach.

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

I can help guide them toward the solution, but collaborating with their peers is where they hear whether or not it works, and what other ideas might work better. That’s the way it is in the real world, where people with different points of view all work toward the same goal. They see how each contributes to the success of the project. It's a big part of preparing students for their careers.

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

Anything is possible.

What’s the most critical advice you would offer any student embarking on a creative career?

Most people sleepwalk through life. Wake up. Get out. Think. Walk around without a phone. Experience life. It all contributes to your art.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I believe in my students so that they will believe in themselves because the hard work comes from within them.