Since starting in the industry in 2006, I have worn a lot of hats! Working in house at a casual games studio, creating content for a Disney Imagineers prototype, making art for a Looney Tunes game show pitch, to designing and launching My Paper Plane 3, there has never been a dull moment!
I absolutely love teaching. Showing the next generation the tools and tricks that I've learned in the industry, and seeing that "ah ha!" moment when a student really gets the material and starts to make beautiful artwork brings me a great sense of pride. Scroll down to my philosophies in education below.
I'm the father of an amazing little dude with another on the way! Seeing my son's sense of wonder about all things big and small reminds me that we are all constantly learning new things and that the largest of mountains can be scaled one step at a time. It just takes a patient guide who is willing to show someone else the way.
I can remember the challenges of learning a brand new piece of software when I was starting school. It can be tough! Multiple classes with new software that utilized different user interfaces with unique shortcuts and hotkeys combined with meeting new peers and instructors with different learning styles and teaching methodologies...whew! These obstacles can be extremely overwhelming to any young artist who signed up for a class to make "cool stuff." My goal as an educator is to break down these intimidating obstacles so that students from all walks of life are spending less time worried about "how" something is accomplished, and more time thinking about "what cool stuff" they can make that will showcase their individual personalities and talents.
Working in the Advisement Department at MVCC for 5 years has given me a chance to see the real-life struggles that students go through not just academically, but in their personal lives. My time in Advisement taught me some valuable lessons: each student is unique with different personalities and different learning styles, and while it is a student's job to accomplish their coursework, it is the instructor's job to be engaging and to make sure lessons and topics are easily digestible and accessible to a variety of learning styles.
Learning should be fun and engaging. While instructors can't do the work for a student, they can take time to ensure that students know exactly what is required to be able to get an A on their work by taking out the guesswork and ensuring that exercises and projects are easy to understand, with clearly detailed requirements, due dates, and point values.
Along with clearly explained exercise and project details, I make it a point to share any and all notes and lectures online. While I highly encourage note-taking, students majoring in forms of visual communication benefit from SEEING examples created by artists in their fields of study and from former students. Providing dynamic notes that students can view at home or after class is standard practice in my classroom.
Being a great teacher requires a combination of various types of skill sets. Instructors are obligated to know the software and concepts that we are teaching from both a technical and artistic standpoint. While many professional artists can make amazing art, they can not teach. Educators in the world of art must be able to do both. We are working to make the next batch of talented artists, and this cannot be accomplished unless we live and breathe the subjects that we teach.
If I don't understand the 15 or so different pieces of software that I teach each year, I can't expect my students to do the same. Many of my lessons utilize personally handwritten and/or youtube tutorials demonstrating the subjects.
As a once anxious teenager, I know just how hard it is to summon the courage to finally raise your hand and ask the instructor for some help. When I'm on campus, I strive to be engaging with a positive, energetic personality. I facilitate dialogue and questions in my class, and I encourage students to reach out via email or office hours when work becomes challenging. While at times coursework can feel difficult, talking to an instructor never should be.