“You would make a good teacher.” Those words were spoken to me by my design professor, Lonn Beaudry, at Kansas City Art Institute while I was still a student. They were not what I was expecting at the time, and I sort of dismissed that notion, as, like just about all design students, I wanted to be a full time professional designer. When Lonn recommended me for a teaching position at Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, I decided to just apply for the job, not thinking they would actually hire me. But two weeks later I was standing in front of a classroom.
I was at MIAD for about five and a half years. After that I taught at University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, Illinois Institute of Art, Northern Illinois University and the Institute of Design Graduate Design Program. In all, I have had 26 years of teaching experience.
What is great is that during my teaching time, I could still be a practicing professional working with clients. I was able to work with wonderful clients who allowed me to exercise my design skills and talents, and do some great work for them. That experience also informs my teaching.
In my early years teaching at MIAD, though just in my mid twenties, I was able to do design work for the school, and various outside clients. The connections with the broader community that come with being a teacher introduced me to various businesses and organizations that wanted good design.
Working in design while teaching continued while at all the various institutions up to this day.
My teaching tends to focus on the pragmatics of design; design process, problem solving, typography, branding, visual composition, and encourages a highly developed design aesthetic, with the intent of the student learning to develop solutions that will engage an audience, while solving the communication problem appropriately, and to the highest standards of the design profession.
Notable Student Work
Over the years I have had the pleasure to work with some highly talented students. Those students produced work in my classes that is notable, and for me represents the highest quality standards of the design profession, and is a reflection of my values as a designer and educator. Here is the work of some of those students, in no particular order.
Chris Brown. How Conference branding, brochure design. Chris’s solution is amazing. It’s diverse, fun, dynamic, while appropriate for a Texas based conference.
Elizabeth Thomas. Beauty book. This was a senior capstone project, where she interviewed various persons about what is beauty. The answers were gorgeously presented in a book. The typography is simply beautiful, sensitively executed, and so appropriate for the content.
Vinh Ngo. Pizza ordering app. An exercise in user experience design, Vinh not only nailed the user experience part of this, which is quite difficult, but succeeded also in designing a simple, but attractive user interface.
Brian Rau. Branding design for a resort. Brian has an innate sense of composition which was evident in all his work. This ad series is beautifully executed as part of a branding project for a resort focused on outdoor activities, he blended type, image, graphic elements, in an engaging manner.
Kellen Scott. Motion graphic design, What is graphic design? Kellen did an outstanding job with this motion design, which was the first motion design project he ever did. In a couple minutes, he was able to create a good overview, of the graphic design profession and be visually engaging using kinetic typography. On Vimeo people still seem to find this, with over 15,000 plays to date. For his first “little” video, not too bad. Plus we all thought Kellen should be a voice over artist, as he used his own strong voice for his video.
Nathan Dietz. Jazz Festival Poster. This is an early sophomore level typography project. It’s smartly designed to convey jazz by varying color, stroke weights, and typeface forms, to create a rich visual language. Simple yet so complex.
Julio Ruiz. Beer branding label series. This project is a traditional quick two day project for the fall senior level class. With such a tight time constraint this becomes a challenge of both design concept and then just executing it. Julio’s solution was a surprisingly rich and detailed blend of typography and graphic illustrations.
Libby Rutan. Wolfgang Weingart website. This was a project in the Intro Interaction class where each student was given a notable graphic designer from history, and was to design a single page website about that designer, using motion effects. Libby brought life to Weingart’s work in wonderfully engaging manner. Just black and white, like much of Weingart’s typographic studies, but adding motion to showcase Weingart’s ideas of design. Check out the full website.