Discussion in 'Design and Graphics' started by Cursor, Jan 29, 2006.

  1. Cursor macrumors 6502


    Jul 17, 2002
    I was looking for some advice in the area of teaching design/computer graphics courses in an art school/design college. First, let me give some background; I've been in the advertising business as a graphic designer/art director for about 10 years now. Lately, it just hasn't been as fun as it used to be. I do work for some high visibility, national and international companies, but I just don't seem to get excited doing the work anymore. It's starting to seem like work. I just can't see myself doing this for the next 35+ years (I am 29).

    I was thinking about applying to some local art schools and universities to see if they had any openings for design instructors. My questions to all of you are: would I be qualified to be a Communication Arts instructor at a college ( I have a BFA in Communication Design with a concentration in advertising design)? What would the next step be, if I was qualified? How would I get started? Thanks for any help or personal experiences.
  2. radiantm3 macrumors 65816


    Oct 16, 2005
    San Jose, CA
    If you have a degree already, your best bet is to teach at the school you graduated from. Usually they will hire alumni no problem. A friend teaches at the university that we went to. He didn't need any teaching credentials or anything of that sort.
  3. zim macrumors 65816


    Jan 5, 2002
    Most programs are going to require an MFA but it is possible to get involved in teaching as a lecture, typically this is based on your experience, portfolio and ability to verbally communicate your work and that of others. My only concern about advising you in the direction of teaching is that if you are lacking interest in the field then how do you expect to engage your students? Also, teaching is hard work, not all fun and games so I hope you don't think that moving to teaching will be a resolution for your lack of excitement. Remember that teaching is not all fun and games.

    "would I be qualified to be a Communication Arts instructor at a college ( I have a BFA in Communication Design with a concentration in advertising design)?"

    Depends on your portfolio, skills and ability to verbally communicate.

    "What would the next step be, if I was qualified?"

    Prepare yourself for an interview, typically with a panel of faculty and administrators. Be sure that you know your work well, that you know your process and that you also can speak briefly about how your work fits into the design world, your work in context to others. Some schools require a presentation, this could be a demo or brief lecture.

    "How would I get started?"

    I would recommend going after a part-time lecturing position, just to get your feet wet. Try and keep a foot in the door at a studio too, often school like a portion of their faculty involved in the filed. Also research the programs you are applying to. You will find that some schools are more practical based while others are deeper into theory and methodology.

    Remember that with only a BFA the highest level of status will typically be a lecture position. Obtaining an MFA will be the best decision for getting into teaching. I started out as a teachers aid and worked myself into a part-time position while working as a designer.. I then went back to get an MFA so that I could secure my future as an educator. The process has not been easy but has been rewarding. Fortunately there is a great need for part-time and non tenure track lectures so my recommendation would be to figure out what being a teacher means to you (you will need to most likely write a statement to accompany your portfolio).
  4. thedude110 macrumors 68020


    Jun 13, 2005
    I'd have to agree with Zim -- most schools are looking to market the "% of faculty with terminal degrees," and many are even eschewing MFA's if they can find a PhD in the same field (here qualifications don't matter -- it's % of faculty with the pile it high and deep).

    Though let me issue a word of warning ... as someone who has taught at the college level and is now teaching at the high school level, the inverse of your statement is also true -- Teaching=Burnout. Many look at the "academic year" and see it as the easy life, but such a calendar is necessary to the mental health of most teachers who take their jobs seriously. Depending on where you teach, you'll be dealing with real kids who have real problems and minimal coping mechanisms. If you do go down the path of college teaching, you should definitely get training in adolescent suicide and depression as well as pedagogical approaches for those with learning differences. A basic teaching methods class will help you plan lessons and introduce you to people who know how to teach what you know how to do (and believe me, to be a good teacher you don't need to be an expert in your field -- you need to know how to reach that kid who sits in the corner and dares you to teach them).

    Good luck -- let us know what you decide to do!
  5. ATD macrumors 6502a

    Sep 25, 2005
    I had a professor that only had a AA degree and he was teaching at the MFA level. He was one of those gifted designers who's work was in many design annuals when he was in his early 20s. A few schools will look pass your degree and base it more on talent. It's not written in stone that you need an MFA to teach but I think most schools are looking for them.

    BTW, I have 2 friends who teach and have MFAs. They both work full time jobs and teach in the evening at the university level. Both of them are more that likely is express frustration with teaching/students than their full time jobs. You might want to try a evening class or part time before jumping into it full time.
  6. stevep macrumors 6502a


    Oct 13, 2004
    How true.
    Also, don't make the mistake of thinking that students will be as passionate about your subject as you are. The top 5% will be, the top 50% will be pleasant, the bottom 50% will be indifferent, and the bottom 5% will be obnoxious, arrogant, rude little sh**s. And 50% of teachers are completely stupid.
    By all means go for it - its a good way of finding some new inspiration (for want of a better expression - getting out of a rut, getting new ideas, overcoming designers block) and you might get the chance to learn new things in the creative field, but make sure you have a get-out plan and don't lose touch with the real world.
  7. thedude110 macrumors 68020


    Jun 13, 2005
    Ha! You just summed up my day to day life! :p

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