As a graphic design professor, I want my students to see my passion for design and teaching. I want to inspire them to be motivated designers capable of creating innovative solutions. The skills they master in school will prepare them to take on any challenges in the future, to be the key to open many doors of possibilities, and benefit them throughout their professional careers.
Lay down a good foundation
Design courses of all levels should set up a good framework for young designers, especially the foundational visual communication classes. The students should explore all visual languages such as scale, rhythm, hierarchy, contrast, typography, symmetry, color, and symbol, and learn to use them systematically on different media.
Technology will always change and evolve in the design field, as an instructor I would like to focus their attention more on critical thinking and problem solving skills rather than technology aspects of design. Software is just a tool. Nobody would ask what kind of brush DaVinci used. Through introduction, research, ideation, execution, critique, and refinement, students will develop problem solving skills. I always encourage students to sketch out the ideas. It is a pivotal step of the design process. With easy access to everything in this world today, students need to intentionally exercise the process of going from problem to solution to come up with unique ideas. This will set them apart from their peers in the future.
Besides teaching students design, I also model good communication and interpersonal skills. My students need to be team players and know the importance of collaboration, which can identify strengths and encourage new skills to develop.
After students are solidly grounded in the basic design principles, I want them to stay sensitive with what’s current. Let all art forms influence and inspire them. There’s a Chinese saying that literally translates to “eyes high but hands low,” which is a negative phrase describing someone who has great ambition but lacks practical abilities. However, I always think it has a right order if being applied in the design field. A good designer needs to train their eyes first. Somebody can always learn new tools or practice their craft, but they can never achieve what they can not see.
I want to encourage students to be relevant socially and culturally as well. It will help them to know their audience in their design practice. It also reminds them that design is more than selling products, but also a way to bring awareness, make a movement and change the world.
Coach through life
I look at my students as unique individuals. Each of them has their own learning style and needs. I encourage them to ask questions and I am open for a conversation whenever it is possible.
The design program is challenging, so is life. Students might get discouraged by a low grade in the middle of the semester, but I always provide them a chance to revise their project for the final presentation. I want my students to know that it’s okay to be imperfect, but they should be willing to take risks and keep growing. Hard times will come, but passion and love of design will help us to carry on and overcome. I want to share my passion with my students. I believe if you put your whole heart into something, you will succeed at whatever you do, either design or teaching.