Texas Tech University :: School Of Art

School of Art Celebrates 40 Years of Design
by Daniel Horsch

Over the past 40 years, the design program, under various names, at the School of Art (SOA) has been home to many students, serving as the generator of alumni now working professionally throughout the United States.

On Saturday, February 2, 2008, the School of Art celebrates 40 years of design with an alumni reception for an exhibition of the same name. The exhibition, which opened January 14th, features design work by 18 alumni of the design program now living and working around Texas and the nation.  SOA alumni leave Tech to take jobs with some of the country’s elite design firms or as designers for top businesses such as Texas Monthly magazine, Wired magazine or Baylor University just to name a few.  Others go on to form their own design firms, Lana Rigsby of Rigsby Hull and Candace and Greg Morgan of Morgan/Mohon are just a few examples.

Gina Simms and Mark HartsfieldLinda Helton, owner of her own Dallas-based design firm and Lubbock based Mark Hartsfield, whose works are included in the exhibition, will be attending the reception.  Linda Helton, class of 1981, started by working for design firms in Dallas, but for the last 8 years she has worked as a free lance illustrator.  Helton will be visiting Lubbock for the first time in over 20 years and is looking forward to seeing how design at the SOA has progressed.  “I'm looking forward to visiting the campus and seeing how it has changed and seeing how well the graduates of the design program have done in the real world,” Helton said.  Mark Hartsfield, of Lubbock and a 1984 graduate, now owns a graphic design firm in Lubbock and employs three other TTU graphic design alumni. What is strikingly clear is that the SOA program has a profound interest in all of its students, past and present. Nancy Slagle, associate professor at the SOA, has seen the program develop over the years.  “The numbers have gone up and down, but we always try to manage the number of students,” Slagle said. “We are interested in growing in quality not in quantity.”

Katie Decker and Dirk FowlerWhile some may assume that the limited number of students accepted into the program hinders the graphic design program, the process has the opposite effect.  With an increased amount of enrollment overall across the university, the SOA has maintained a great cycle of undergraduates.  The School of Art takes pride in involving its students in the community.  Whether it’s creating logos or creative advertisements for the city of Lubbock, students have the rare opportunity to create professional work years before they graduate. Dirk Fowler, assistant professor in Communication Design, agrees that the design program develops students to work outside the classroom and understand the importance of working with the community in mind.  “We try to help create responsible parts of the community,” Fowler said.  “Our faculty does it’s best to nourish creativity and release these creative thinkers [students] into the world.”

Kate Iltis, Carla Tedeschi and DJ StoutAssociate professor Carla Tedeschi couldn’t agree more.  Tedeschi, who restructured the program eight years ago, has improved the program’s efforts to educate socially responsible graphic designers.  “Currently students are working for the Lubbock Animal Shelter to design a logo for a collaboration effort betwen the Lubbock Animal Shelter, the Lubbock Humane Society and The Haven,” Tedeschi said.  The experience students receive will help them develop their skills and will assist in their overall artistic development, something employers will want to see when graphic design students graduate.  Tedeschi wants students to become more active and feel empowered within their communities.  “Our students are given the opportunity to work in the community,” Tedeschi said, who wants students to become comfortable working for good will and not for profit. Ultimately, the graphic design program is structured to prepare students for the rigorous demands of the professional world.