by David Kasparek
Designed Stories highlights student projects in graphic design and digital media courses I teach at Messiah College.
As a design educator, I believe that design is more clearly understood and defined as a verb (an active process), rather than a noun (a static, descriptive definition). Designed Stories focuses on this design PROCESS as the primary activity in design education. For me, the true ‘art’ of graphic design is primarily in the creative process of design and not only in the physical design artifact that results from that process.
Of course, creating aesthetically engaging design objects is a deeply human and worthwhile goal, but I believe that this end should result from, and reflect, a rigorous and creative design process which includes: identifying and understanding the communication problem, and then engaging in research, reflection, visual exploration and experimentation, and critique and evaluation. Designed Stories is a space to demonstrate and represent these various contexts in which students discover, explore, experiment, and ultimately learn about design.
My Teaching Philosophy
I strive to recognize and responsibly teach students a respect for the communicative and representational power of design, its cognitive possibilities to explicate and delineate content, and its cultural relevance and ability to shape and form meaning.
Teaching design requires me to “design” my teaching. At the heart of this ethos are the studio projects and communication problems I create and develop for students to execute in my courses. As both a designer and educator, I find the most joy and satisfaction in creating a project that addresses and develops many educational objectives and creative skills for students through their direct engagement in the design process. The most effective projects do this in a seamless, integrated, and multi-layered way. This promotes what I call “stealth learning,” when students may be aware of the explicit educational objectives but they also encounter other “layers” of learning that happen in the background of the process and may not be immediately apparent at first. Students may discover these layers during critique and reflection after the actual project is completed.
Ultimately, the goal of my teaching is to help students discover new ways of seeing, thinking, and knowing. I strive to encourage and collaborate with students to help them develop their own voice by facilitating an environment of creative thinking and reflection. Through this process, students develop a broad set of skills and knowledge necessary for them to effectively and ethically solve a wide range of evolving communication problems.