Where I Teach

“It took me a few weeks to understand what he wanted (it is so different from what I’ve been asked to do elsewhere) but now I’m completely on board with making design relationships!” – Student

I teach at the Shintaro Akatsu School of Design (SASD) at the University of Bridgeport as the Chairman of the MPS program in Design Management. Design management is a very young discipline, developed in England about 25 years ago. SASD’s is a dynamic, international program – one of a small handful in the U.S. and the only one in New England. We are in close proximity to and relationships with Fairfield County’s Fortune 500 corporate bases. Our students are from several US states, Bosnia, Brasil, China, England, Italy, Taiwan, India, Iraq, Malasia, Russia, and Saudi Arabia.

I enjoyed fifteen years as a professor at the Hartford Art School of the University of Hartford, where I was awarded tenure and promotion and served as senior faculty member in the department. Because of life changes, I resigned my position in 2000 and began teaching as an adjunct in graphic design programs in and around New York City (see below). These experiences continue to give me an extraordinary breadth of students and cause careful consideration of what works in the design laboratory. What I have come to is this single truth: teaching design creativity grows from limitations, not choices. Reduce their choices and the only thing left for a student is to add their own creativity. Borrowing creativity – that is, selecting pieces (typefaces and images most often) made by others for use in one’s own work – is not creative. It is editing. Or shopping.

As a teacher, the two most telling questions I ask are, “Why did you do it that way?” and “What is right about this design?” To me, rigor is essential: I start with comparisons among works on a critique wall and gradually expand awareness to include works by other students in other programs and then to designers everywhere. This causes students to understand design relationships which express content are very much more important than simply “liking” a design.

These are the programs in which I have taught, in approximate reverse chronological order, ongoing and most recent at the top. I am aware that I am not every student’s cup of tea, indeed, I wonder about the purpose and level of expectation of a teacher who manages to satisfy everyone, but the comments I have selected are naturally from among those that are the more flattering.

“There are precisely two classes at Parsons that have helped me and yours is one of them. Thank you for being a truly inspiring teacher.” – Student

Parsons the New School for Design  I have been teaching in a graduate program at Parsons since 2003. The students are highly motivated, talented, and eager to get good in a hurry. This is all a professor could hope for.

I have improved 100% through your instruction. It has been noticed at work. Of all my college courses, this one has been the most beneficial.” – Student

The State University of New York at Westchester  I have taught a typography course at SUNY-W in the spring semester of the sophomore year since 2007. This school has a diverse, multicultural student body that brings a variety of approaches to their classwork.

“Because of your course, I had a choice of top schools! Thank you for helping me make great portfolio samples!” – Student

The MillerWhite School of Design offers advanced art and graphic design coursework whose purpose is to prepare students for professional art education in college. The faculty provide students with the same freshman design coursework offered at leading art schools (we know because we teach there!), to help  you develop an outstanding portfolio for art school acceptance. This school is a collaboration with Brian D. Miller.

The best teacher I’ve had in college. He’s extremely hard but I’m glad he is.” – Student 

FIT (The Fashion Institute of Technology)  is a very large, very diverse professional art school that is both in the heart of the fashion district of Manhattan and a public university that is a jewel in the crown of the State University of New York (SUNY) system.

I learned a lot about standards because yours are very high!” – Student 

Manhattanville College  This is a well-equipped department on a beautiful campus in the wooded suburbs of New York City. M’ville, as it is known locally, offers both the BFA and MFA degrees.

Thank you so much for a fantastic graphic design course. Without your class I would not see the way I do now.” – Student

The City College of New York (CCNY) is said to have the most diverse student body of any college in the United States. That has to mean the world, but I can attest that the students with whom I worked were from everywhere. A vast majority were first generation immigrants, so they were in immediate touch with the opportunity college offered for their futures. I was regularly surprised by the extra effort and vision these students brought to our critique wall.

I consider you the one professor who taught me type, how to use it and to love it.” – Former student

The Hartford Art School is one of seven colleges in the University of Hartford. It is one of the two preeminent professional art schools between New York and Boston, and is one of the few professional programs fully embedded in a university, giving academic coursework full attention. HAS was founded in Hartford in 1877 by Harriet Beecher Stowe, Olivia Clemens (married to Samuel Langhorne Clemens or “Mark Twain”), Mary Bushnell Cheney (premiere silk weavers until the invention of Rayon in 1920), Elizabeth Colt (married to Samuel Colt, the firearms manufacturer) and Susan Warner as an independent art academy. It merged with the Hartt School of Music and Hillyer College in 1957, becoming the University of Hartford, and moved to its 350-acre location in the suburbs northwest of Hartford. The University now has 7,400 students from 45 states and 49 countries.

KSU churns out fantastic designers: you taught me to be quite demanding of myself and my colleagues… I had a rock star KSU graphic design intern last year who exceeded my expectations!” – Former student

Kent State University is the potent mid-west graphic design program it is because of its growth under j. Charles Walker. I studied as an undergrad at KSU – with a break at Parsons my junior year – and returned to teach there for two years after graduate school. Foreign study was nearly expected of everyone and the for-profit Glyphix studio experience has shaped many. The success of a program can be measured by how many graduates go on to teach at prestigious programs around the country. Kent’s graphic design program is well represented in this regard.

You have great passion for teaching and learning and it is contagious. This wasn’t an easy semester, but it was a really valuable one!” – Student

Syracuse University is a medium-to-large sized (20,000 students) private university in the happy snow belt of upstate New York. “The Cuse” developed the leading advertising design program in the northeast – and probably in the country – back in the 1950s and 1960s, in part because of its relative proximity to Madison Avenue, and has grown handsomely ever since. The ad design program, part of the College of Visual and Performing Arts (“the center of cultural life on campus”), is complemented by the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, home of S.U.’s advertising program. I had a full Teaching Assistantship and taught graphic design and Intro to Advertising Design courses in my two years on campus, earning top “Double A” ratings in the student Guide to Professors.

You were one of my most memorable professors. I still show one of the projects from your class!” – Former student

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is part of the mighty Big Ten (Eleven, Twelve…) conference. Sometimes known as The University of Chief Illiniwek since the Chief’s “retirement,” this university has an excellent School of Art and Design and a student body numbering 43,000, which definitely qualifies it as a large school. I had a Teaching Assistantship in my graduate school days there and absolutely loved working with my students. The students at this school have as much pride in their institution as I believe is possible: Oskiwawa!