Teaching Philosophy

I am a strong advocate for the process of design. My goal is to produce impassioned designers with a thorough working knowledge of design systems, conceptual applications, and the means for critical and applied design. I believe that teaching design must fundamentally lay the groundwork of formal structure, offering the ultimate power to confidently manipulate every conceptual aspect of form. Scale, rhythm, hierarchy, typography, symmetry, grids, color, sign, and symbol must systematically be applied to an array of visual communication. Educating young designers about the principal functions of design stimulates their success as visual problem-solvers.

In every stage of design education I feel it is necessary for students to write and conduct research. By reinforcing the research process and encouraging the development of students’ critical writing skills help young designers become equipped to defend his/her own design decisions and creatively respond to the work of their peers. Graphic design is bound to the written word, strong language skills allow for a better understanding of hierarchy, structuring content in an appropriate and meaningful context for the intended audience.

Contemporary designers must navigate through technical advancements and new media. It is my view that the act of making must be taught alongside the act of thinking. Design solutions extend beyond mere aesthetics toward cultural development and influence, social responsibility, and personal voice. As the design profession moves forward it has begun to closely resemble the film industry where collaboration is crucial. Collaborative efforts encourage a richness and depth unseen by singular identities. Collaboration can identify pre-existing strengths and encourage new skill sets to develop.
The rules and formal gestures of design remain present in everything we produce. Each of us – through our unique voice and visual aesthetic – has the ability to develop increasingly complex visual solutions that reflect back upon that which we first learned. The concept of design is a process of organization, applicable to anything; chair or poster composition of words and pictures; a single photograph, or time-based interactive motion graphics consisting of a user defined experience.

Our duty – to encourage future designers; enable them to actively contribute to fields of study outside of graphic design. I strongly believe that we need to inform young designers to be highly motivated thinkers capable of creating innovative solutions to unanswered questions that are simultaneously familiar with the historical time-line of design, and aesthetically foreign all the same.

My teaching methodology blends traditional design practices with theory and historical reference, placing them in contemporary modules of expression. A comprehensive design project must combine technical aspects with form, function, audience awareness, and aesthetics. Graphic design basics must translate to comprehensive decision-making. Students must be taught and encouraged to confidently build and develop physical solutions to abstract concepts. Competent manipulation of text and image can be taught through hands-on physical exercises. Students must be taught to seamlessly convey intent through innovative production methods, whether it is meant for print, web, new media explorations, alternative and green material usage, animation, or sound.

Recently the graphic design community has discussed the expanding pedagogy in the discipline of design. Recent years has shown a paradigm shift from strict visual solutions towards idea based – strategic business solutions. A secondary shift consists of the increased need for media neutrality. The design entrepreneur has become an idea and project generator, able to react and create content, media solutions, new products, and services. Future training must adapt to reinforce and encourage these new demands and opportunities. Design education must evolve to a collaborative educational environment, able to cross media boundaries, taking design out of cloistered academia and unite resources with other departments and other institutions.

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Teaching Philosophy [download]
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This web•log is an ongoing collection of the creative work(s) by John P Corrigan and a combined portfolio consisting of: graphic design / typography / type design / art / curation / writing / publications / research + photography.

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