Graphic Designers create and organize visual concepts to communicate ideas that inspire, inform or captivate audiences. Graphic Designers manipulate typography, images, systems and structures to solve visual problems in every media including print, screen, billboards, film, apps and more. To many people graphic design is a form of communication used to promote a product; it is a practice at the service of advertising. This fallacy has created a misunderstanding of the power and scope of graphic design. My own education began as a student at North Carolina State School of Design where their mission states: "The best graphic design meaningfully promotes, educates, directs, informs, exposes, clarifies, beautifies, and delights the people who engage with it."
It is true that graphic design is a visual communication tool used to give a "visual voice" to retail enterprises, but it is important to remember that graphic designers can also give a voice to other cultural domains such as education, entertainment, service industries, non-profit organizations, and governmental interests. I choose to use my discipline to make a difference with graphic design. I choose to work with organizations and community members that have valuable messages that need a visual voice. For example, I have collaborated with artists and musicians to publicize and support cultural and musical events. I have volunteered services for several major political campaigns. For example, I worked on the Arthur Morrell campaign for US Senate, I worked on Howard Dean for Louisiana campaign, and Virginia Boulet for Mayor of New Orleans Campaign after Katrina. I also create work that communicates my own social, cultural and political positions. Outlets for this kind of work include guerrilla tactics in the community as well as more formal channels of galleries and exhibitions.
Traveling has a significant place in my development as a designer. During my studies at NC State, I participated in a design study abroad program in the Czech Republic which convinced me to move to Europe after graduation. My senior thesis project, a mock issue of Colors Magazine (all about me) translated in polish, helped me get my first job after school, I worked in Treviso, Italy, for Benetton's socially oriented communication research center, Fabrica. Here, I worked with organizations such as MTV and Greenpeace creating spots about anti racism or bringing awareness to hunger in the world. I collaborated with many of my coworkers on political, cultural and social projects that nurtured my passion for design for good.
After Fabrica, I moved to New York City and worked at a small design agency, Slover [and] Company where I quickly learned that working for a brand agency selling products was not my passion. After five months working as a commercial designer, I accepted a position as Marketing Design Director at George Magazine, a political monthly magazine, founded by John F. Kennedy Jr. The design work was very template formatted; however, I was surrounded by interesting people and updated on new political ideas and concepts. A year later, I decided to attend graduate school at California Institute of the Arts to pursue a deeper understanding of form, concept and technology and to explore other avenues for design for good.
For two years, I pushed the boundaries of form and concept and collaborated with many musicians, artists and designers. I also participated in CAPS, Cal Arts community arts partnership, where I mentored and taught graphic design to youth in Los Angeles County. These experiences led to my decision to pursue a career in teaching and research in academia. My appointment at Loyola University New Orleans in 2001, has provided me the opportunity to share my passion for graphic design through teaching and to pursue my research and professional practice outside the constraints of commercial design.
Since my arrival at Loyola University, I have made it a life long goal to build a successful, strong design program in the city of New Orleans. After teaching here for 3 years, I took an unpaid sabbatical to teach in Sharjah, UAE.. This experience allowed me to reflect on teaching, New Orleans and my goals for the future. I decided to return and continue to build a sustainable, smart, unique design program situated in one of the best cities in the United States. After I received tenure in 2008, I updated the program from a liberal arts, Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design program, to a professional degree program, Bachelor of Design in Graphic Design. I shifted the name of our department from Visual Arts Department to Art and Design Department. The program shifted its focus from print to print, web and motion graphics. We added a Business of Design course so students could be more prepared as entrepreneurs; Design Forum where students can meet and learn from design professionals; Design topics course that allows for contemporary studios to be offered each semester; Public Speaking course to help the students articulate, present, and talk about their work. The degree shifted from 52 hours to 72 hours.
In 2015, I proposed and received approval to be a stand alone Department of Design within the University. Allowing us to separate from traditional arts helps the community understand how different the two areas and outcomes really are. The goal is to recruit beyond the student interested in creativity and traditional arts. The goal is to reach out to students who are interested in writing, computers, problem solving, creativity and team work. We do not limit our entry into the program with a portfolio; instead, our goal is to reach for all creative people who want to use their creativity to solve visual problems in print, interactive and motion design. We aligned our mission with the University jesuit mission of making the world a better place. We choose design projects that focus on design for good, cultural/social/political exploration and we work with New Orleans community members of New Orleans that could benefit from visual problem solvers.
We now have three degrees: Bachelor of Design in Graphic Design, Interactive Design and Online Motion Design. We have a new building and facilities and studios to compete with other thriving design programs in the US. We launched a new website last year to highlight student and alumni work: www.loynodesign.com
The summer of 2017, I created and launched our first High School Summer Design Camp to educate our surrounding communities about design.
I continue to design projects in collaboration with members of New Orleans community. Over the past 17 years, I have worked with artists, musicians, politicians, writers, non-profit organizations and social campaigns that benefit the New Orleans community. I had a solo show at the Three Ring Circus Gallery in New Orleans for my sabbatical in 2012. For the show, I created Graphic GrATTITUDE: a design campaign that encourages New Orleanians to think about their community and the part they play in creating that community. This show used portraits and typography to promote the ideas of people who have made positive changes to contemporary New Orleans. This exhibition was meant to live not only in galleries, or behind closed doors, but also on the streets of New Orleans.
Along with my professional clients, I have continued to work as "design as author" submitting work to national juried competitions, galleries and exhibitions. I have exhibited work with United Design Alliance since 2015, and recently I have received the honor of 2018 UDA Gold Medallion.
I look forward to continuing my work as an educator, building the preeminent design program in the southeastern United States. New Orleans will continue to be a creative hub with a plethora of social and economic problems, providing a never-ending "blank canvas" for me as a professional designer: collaborating with community members that share a similar vision for creating a better, more just society. I am currently building a professional studio in my home so I can work on large scale projects on a daily basis. In the academic setting, I recently received the Edward J. Kvet Distinguished Professorship in Music and Fine Arts which provides funding for me to develop innovative projects and to participate in national and international conferences, as well as invest in new technology to further my understanding of contemporary design tools.
Please visit my CV to see a more detailed description of past and current exhibitions, projects and awards.