Tod Heron

Graphic Design Instructor Tod Heron

We're in the business of ideas. If a client asks for one, you'd better have 10. Tod Heron , Graphic Design Instructor , The Art Institute of Tampa, a branch of Miami International University of Art & Design

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

My first job out of college was picking oranges. I did that for about a month until I got a job in the composition department of the St. Petersburg Times. That was the defining moment: a creative career with air conditioning...and no citrus.

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

I tell stories of course, but I try to set up challenges that impress upon students the need to change how they think through a project, and how every decision has implications for a client, an audience, and a budget. It's not personal. It's just business.

What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching, mentoring, and pushing your students beyond their own perceived limits?

We do a 99 thumbnail project to push students to not settle for the obvious. It forces them to think past the generic and really try to understand a word or a concept, and how to communicate it to someone else. We’re in the business of ideas. If a client asks for one, you’d better have 10.

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

Collaboration is a double-edged sword. For engaged students, it‘s a valuable experience that directly impacts their preparation for a career. For others, it highlights the competitiveness of the marketplace and provides them with peer feedback that, hopefully, ups their game.

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

I try to give them a process, a strategy, a scheme to solve visual design problems.

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

I try to show them the way to solve a tough problem, without fear.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I'm here.