My teaching philosophy has been developed through my experience most recently as a college instructor in the Graphic Design department at the Art Institute of Colorado and my past experience as an elementary and high school art teacher. The most successful classes I have taught are those in which there is a high level of student participation. My focus is to encourage classroom participation by carefully organizing each lesson. With clear organization, students are more likely to believe they understand the framework of the class and will, therefore be willing to ask questions about sections they do not understand and engage in activities they may not have otherwise embarked on.

I compare my current college teaching experiences with my earliest, memories of teaching a third grade art class. I was enamored by the third grade mentality, their willingness to learn, their complete and total vulnerability and openness. They absolutely could not wait to engage. It didn’t matter if it was an exciting art project that included large surfaces, big, bold colors, various mediums and a drum roll at the end or if we were simply cleaning and organizing the art room. College students have the same excitement; after all, they are those third grade children several years evolved. College students, however, are more sophisticated. They require an assignment that challenges the senses. They know what they want to learn and, being from the immediate gratification society, they want it now. I make an effort at the beginning of each class to tap into these expectations, assess them and gear the existing assignment to the student’s specific needs. I do this though group discussions, individual student meetings, sharing personal stories and the requirement of student research and development. I listen; I give them my attention, my creativity, my patient understanding and my guidance.

These experiences have taught me many valuable lessons and helped me develop a teaching philosophy based on trust and genuine caring. Students sense this and put down their protective devices in an effort to allow their creativity to flow. Some students are extremely judgmental of themselves and others and their world seems to revolve around acceptance. I find this to be true with so many creative people. Although challenging, it is not impossible to engage in these students. They simply need to be reminded that they are creative, fantastic individuals and that each and every idea they have will be considered as it is indicative of their true potential, be it fully developed or not.

Students’ are motivated by their desire for knowledge, and are instinctively open to accepting guidance. They will respond to a classroom environment that is rich and genuine. Each student will approach a project in their own unique way. I try to keep this in mind when presenting a new assignment. I have an open discussion with the class and I maintain a flexible stand with regards to how it is perceived and executed. I facilitate many activities that help me to connect with each student and to determine their progress as the project progresses. Some students need more structure than others and will need external resources to help them achieve their goals. Students thrive in a challenging atmosphere in which they believe they can succeed. It is important to find ways to assure that no genuine effort can result in a total failure and that failure is subjective. 

College art students are a rare and unique breed of individual. They are the ones that held on to their desire to be creative. They have started to tap into their creative potential and are curious to see what develops as a result. They absolutely must be challenged as their attention span is constantly competing with external stimuli. They cannot be clumped into a single category as they are very different among themselves. Understanding and embracing diversity is critical to the success of an instructor, no matter the subject matter. However, art students seem to be in a category by themselves as they are deep and eccentric; each in their own way. Diversity can be used as an effective tool within the classroom. Assignments can center on opportunities for personal growth, and new experiences. This gives students the chance to relate to each other on a deep intuitive level and if given the opportunity can teach each other life lessons about everything from culture, religion and ethnicity to child rearing, family values and human interactions. They are deeply curious and hungry to learn about these things and may or may not have been given the opportunity growing up. Art and design allow for personal exploration, as well as the exploration of their fellow student and the complex world they live in. Diversity is a precious gem that can evolve into a learning tool.

I try to incorporate assignments that challenge personal development and encourage students to embrace diversity and free thinking. I do this by conducting open forums in which conversation is encouraged. I create a scenario that students comply with, such as acting as if they are the client and or the designer. I occasionally have them write a brief article on the works of another student for a local magazine chosen for their specific audience. I encourage them to do extensive research and report their findings to the class. I try to start the conversation with questions and comments that will engage the rest of the class. I give international assignments and encourage students to become one with this concept. I also give group assignments that throw different students together randomly and encourage them to communicate on various levels. I am open minded, approachable and make every effort to understand student identity and background.

A student’s educational journey is a personal determination. When a student feels that they are part of an environment where their ideas are accepted, their concepts are considered no matter the personal level they have reached, they are more likely to excel. The most effective learning takes place in a safe, non-judgmental, interactive environment. Mutual respect and trust is critical between teacher and students. Art education provides students with a forum in which to explore personal and professional growth and opportunities. The atmosphere must be relaxed, but structured, enjoyable and goal oriented. 

The grading of art is a unique skill in and of itself. My personal strategy is to assess conceptual effort, technical execution, behavior, classroom participation, creativity, use of form, function and color. It’s important that students are made aware of the grading criteria. This motivates students and makes them goal oriented it holds them accountable and helps them recognize quantifiable results.

As an instructor, it is my responsibility to help students establish goals and assess their current abilities. When creating student assignments my goal is to stimulate growth and creativity through the utilization of many of the most basic processing skills. Through challenging classroom assignments, intellectual concepts and personal values, thinking, problem solving and processing skills can be developed and defined. The classroom is the perfect place to implement a strategy in which to attain both short and long term goals, to assess current strengths and weaknesses and hone in on promising skills. My challenge is to find new and exciting ways to empower my students.

I believe that it is important to help students identify and attain goals. I, myself have goals for my students. I want them to be self starters and problem solvers. I emphasize that it is important for the student to decide what function a particular design has before they decide what it should look like. I encourage them to take responsibility for their work and to make sure that the copy is well written and the subject matter has been properly researched, that they understand their market and the psychology of selling through advertising. I allow flexibility with regards to the information they gather as I want it to have personal meaning to them. I stress that technology is a fantastic tool but it doesn’t replace the creativity of the artist. Therefore, I always require a specific number of hand drawn studies before proceeding to digital execution of a current assignment.

I set clear and attainable goals for myself as an instructor. I plan to get my PhD within the next few years. I want to do extensive studies about how students learn and what I can do to facilitate and maximize their learning. I am looking forward to finding a full time faculty position at a college or university that will appreciate my dynamic approach, my passion for life, art, people, growth and learning. I want to be a part of a university where I can give of myself by sitting on boards, actively participating in committees, program development and community efforts. I am looking for a home, a permanent faculty position, where I can grow, thrive and contribute.


Design is in everything we see and do each day. The world consists of fantastic shapes, colors, textures sounds and movements. Design is private, personal, yet broad and interactive.  Design is representative of who the artist is, what they feel, how they view the world, their own private reality. Design is used in many ways to communicate ideas, feelings and concepts. My design philosophy is one that focuses on the attainment of multiple end results. Optimal results are subjective and are based on the level in which the design interacts with its external environment. An artist must be fully aware of the level of this interaction and address every possible outcome.

Graphic design is everywhere, but is most commonly found in print form. Although printed, it is not necessarily flat. It has depth and meaning and the more time the viewer allows for exploration, the more likely they are to see, understand and feel the artists’ desired perception. A successful design will create a reaction. A designer can create an intended reaction by working backwards. Once the desired reaction has been determined, and thorough detailed research has been concluded, a plan can be devised with that end result in mind.
Design is part of my every day life. Most of what I do each day is influenced by my creative skills. Even the most mundane of tasks seem to be a work of art for me. I see design in everything, the direction in which my dog’s hair grows and the way the branches of my tree touch the roof of my house. Our society is intense, multi faceted and ever changing. Everything influences how we create. I am particularly stimulated by current events, anything that is new and exciting. I read and research everything current, from magazines and newspapers to the World Wide Web, and I encourage my students to do the same. I find it invigorating. Having a deeper understanding, of the challenges facing society, I can produce more passionate, heartfelt work that is deep and personal.

Design has always been a part of my life. My mother always encouraged my creativity. She would line the walls with white butcher paper so that I could draw on the walls. She made sure that I had every medium, in every color so that I could experience true expression. I was however fascinated by how these colors looked and felt on the texture of the actual wall, therefore I removed the paper. Each time, she would replace the paper, admire my creation and explain why the paper needed to cover the walls. She was patient with her explanation and also made me help clean the walls. Eventually I understood and learned to conform, yet I have always been the type to experience life outside of the box. My creative skills have been influenced in many ways by many things. Emotionally, I found refuge in my creativity; I could be myself, yet anonymous. I could touch the lives of many people through a simple, creative endeavor. It is empowering and dynamic.