Heather Tyng

Graphic Design Faculty Member Heather Tyng

I believe that staying creatively active is imperative. Heather Tyng , Graphic Design Instructor
, The Art Institute of Virginia Beach, a branch of The Art Institute of Atlanta
Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

As a sophomore in high school, I took a graphic design class at Virginia Beach Technical & Career Education Center. My teacher was a prominent figure in the graphic design and artistic community. She inspired me—sometimes against my will—to become more confident and creative, and instilled a professionalism that’s stuck with me ever since. She changed the trajectory of my future.

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

In an atmosphere of mutual trust, students share their ideas and simply learn more effectively. When they feel comfortable making mistakes in front of the class, they learn not to be discouraged, and see those mistakes as part of the learning process. It’s exciting to watch a class discuss those mistakes, suggest alternate solutions and laugh together at the same time.

What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?

I try to instill the idea that being a student is fun. I encourage them to be creative and curious, and to experiment with new ideas. I want them to show initiative and be self-motivated to learn more. I encourage them look at the world around them and open their minds to new ways of thinking. And I try to inspire them by exploring the work of well-known designers. My goal is to create an open, interactive, and engaging classroom that rewards critical thinking and supports intellectual curiosity.

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

Develop a set of ethics, take projects that interest you, and specialize in something.

Anything else you’d like to share?

When I’m not teaching, I’m creating—whether designing a logo or tackling a construction project, painting, or learning to play a new song on the piano. I believe that staying creatively active is imperative. Learning to use new tools and processes and being diverse helps to expand the mind and stay inspired.