Elizabeth "B.J." Chevalier

BJ Chevalier

I think the most important thing for students to know is how to identify their strengths and weaknesses. Elizabeth "B.J." Chevalier , Faculty , The Illinois Institute of Art — Schaumburg
What would you say is the defining moment in your life when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

I have known since I was very young that I would be an artist. I come from a family of fine and commercial artists on my father’s side and I was always encouraged to draw and paint. I never seriously considered any other path.  

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?

My work as a fine artist and as proprietor of “B.J.Chevalier Illustration” from 1987 to 2014 has given me ample experiences to share with my students. I teach in both the foundation area and in the Illustration & Design program. I have drawn from my professional background when developing the curriculum and projects for the courses I teach in those areas. My classes are informal with many opportunities for banter about the challenges and opportunities of their chosen field.  

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

We and the students are collaborators in the classroom and our purpose is to achieve a successful student outcome. I always consider the program in which a student is enrolled when teaching a subject. Not all students need to excel in drawing for instance, even though the skill is universally useful. We work together to achieve a level of acceptance that meets the competencies of the course and the needs of the student’s program.     

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 think the most important thing for students to know is how to identify their strengths and weaknesses.  As students, they must work to improve their weaknesses; that’s what school is for. My advice to departing students is to pursue what they love to do, keep learning and be open to possibilities. Life is a zig-zag!