Note: Typically, the only people interested in a teaching philosphy are other educators. However, I thought by making this public that it might benefit students — or those thinking of getting into teaching — on the aspects of design education I consider important each time I walk into
My goal as an educator is a simple one: the pursuit of excellence. In
my opinion, design excellence is not merely the creation of beautiful work, it is the process of evaluating, dissecting and understanding exceptional historical and contemporary design. It is the skill and willingness to experiment within the framework of both Modernist and Post-modernist design styles. It is a love for typography and an appreciation that typographic selection, layout and refinement are the heart and soul
of graphic design. It is thinking about design intellectually and engaging the viewer through smart and sophisticated conceptual implementation. And finally, it is about pride in production, craftsmanship and presentation of the completed work.
In my opinion, there are two major skill sets that design educators
need to impart on their students. First, establish the importance of critical thinking, and provide an environment that encourages the understanding of solid design and typographic fundamentals and experimentation; and secondly, to provide professional knowledge
and assignment/internship opportunities that will make the students attractive candidates for positions at well-respected design studios
and agencies. I feel these skills can be successfully gained through assignment selection, professional studio interaction and a
commitment to both the practical and intellectual sides of design.
In regard to the classroom setting, I feel it is essential to clearly
define my expectations from the outset. I want there to be no doubt that I expect nothing less than each student’s best effort. Students
are treated with the respect of a developing young professional and
will be expected to act as such. I believe in being as honest and forthright as possible, and encourage my students to do the same.
I promote an open forum, offering the freedom to engage any issues relevant to the class, including the discussion and evaluation of professional design and contemporary trends within the graphic
I feel that class critiques in combination with one-on-one student/professor discussions are critical to a young designer’s
growth and development. Layout, typography and concept should constantly be reviewed and questioned. Intermediate and final
critiques are important for several reasons: they force the student to discuss, describe and defend their own work — one of the key abilities of a practicing designer; they provide the opportunity to evaluate the work of others; and they require the ability to sift through various opinions, determining which comments are worth investigating.
Most assignments will adhere to a three-phased approach to project development, which allows for concentration on each aspect of the design process — Phase 1: Brainstorming, concepting, researching and writing; Phase 2: Layout, typography, critique and revisions; Phase 3: Production, assembly and final presentation. This approach ensures that students understand and appreciate the full design process, and
it reinforces my belief that all aspects of the design process are integral in attaining design excellence.
Teaching, much like design, is a creative process. It requires dedication, passion, self-evaluation, patience and a desire to
educate and influence the designers of tomorrow.