Recently I had the privilege to take some of my acquired design knowledge and share it with a very special group of people (My Design Profs would be so proud). I’ve always had a small desire to teach ever since I left art school and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. My younger brothers teacher approached me to give a talk and short lesson on art and design and how it applies to the real world. I gladly accepted the offer and made arrangements to come up and spend an afternoon with the students.
Upon further reflection anxiety began to set in. I have no problem walking into a boardroom full of executives, marketing directors and creative types and pitching a design concept, campaign, brand identity or whatever other corporate collateral ones business may require, but the daunting task of entering a room of 10–12 year olds was frightening. Is it possible to capture a 5th graders attention for 3 hours, how does someone captivate an 11 year old on the topic of design, is it possible to back out of this? Call in sick? Reschedule or send a replacement? I figured the best way to tackle this assignment was to show examples of what inspired me to do what I do, if I could talk passionately about design maybe just maybe I could inspire their young minds to possibly go down the same road I traveled.
Some of my fondest memories of my time in school were those spent in art class, having the opportunity to visualize my uncorrupted imagination and using the mediums at hand to communicate my ideas visually, spending hours painting drawing and sculpting anything that popped into my head. One of the most beautiful things about being a kid in art class is the freedom and the lack of fear to do as you please. How I wish I could go back to those days.
Back to the task at hand, as I began to deal with the fear of standing in front a class room full of prepubescent kids, I remembered the words of my little brother, “ Can you please wear a T-shirt so all my friends can see your tattoo’s” I figured this would at least capture their attention long enough (as well as give me some playground street cred) to get through the introduction to my presentation. The structure of this presentation would be key to me surviving this afternoon. What are kids this age interested in? And how does that apply to art and design. Lets break it down. Because I’m technically still a kid at heart I tried to think of thing that attracted me to design and how it might apply to these little humans. I looked in to areas like video games, character design, architecture, industrial design, fashion, branding etc. I wanted to show the class how far reaching art and design can be, and how things that they see every day are touched by design. I was even able to throw in some art history and still captivate their attention, with the help of artists like Keith haring, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Milton Glasser, Frank Lloyd Wright, Frank Gehry, Gaudi and even an appearance from the Bauhaus I was able to give these kids their first introduction into the world of design to their eagerly awaiting eyes. Surprisingly these kids were hanging on my every word, it was amazing. Looking back on it I think I may have even changed a couple career paths transforming future doctors and lawyers in to starving artist, illustrators and designer, welcome to the dark side my little friends, your parents will be proud.
For the second part of the afternoon I wanted to give the kids a little taste of what its like to be a designer. So I tasked them with a little project. I challenged them to come up with there own brand and company name possibly a tag line if they felt so inclined. Once the concept had passed the teacher and my approval, they were given templates to see their logos and branding in application. These templates included Hoodies, T-shirts, shoes, snowboards and Skateboard. It was absolutely amazing to see their little minds spill out on to the paper, with no restriction the class produced some fantastic results, these kids were naturals. Check out some of the results below:
In retrospect this was one of the most rewarding days I’ve had as a designer. It made me remember how great my job really is and how fun it can be. I think sometimes we take what we do for granted and don’t realize how impactful the things we create truly are. I’m hoping to make this field trip and annual thing. Hopefully I was able to at least plant a seed in a couple of the students in the class and show them the possibilities at their fingertip. Who knows maybe one of those kids grows up to be the next super star. Look out world I’m changing design one small mind at a time.