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23 years of the Art Institute of Phoenix


Last night I went to the get-together at the Art Institute of Phoenix, at 23rd Avenue and Dunlap. It was hosted by one of the teachers who called the event "The End: 23 years on 23rd Avenue". And I gotta admit that it shook me a bit that the mid-nineties were quite so long ago! And since it's now part of the history of Phoenix, it's naturally gotten me thinking about college education in Phoenix.

Although I'm a "high-tech" kind of guy, I preferred doing classes in person. I tried teaching online once, and I hated it. That may seem kind of strange for someone like me to say, because I teach computer graphics, but my style of teaching was more personal, and more professional. I'll see if I can explain.

At the risk of sounding like a commercial, the Art Institute of Phoenix prepared students to work in their chosen creative field. And from day one, back when I started teaching in 1996, I liked that. This wasn't just a school that gave out degrees, it showed people how they could take their talents and make a career out of it. It's what I had done, and I believed in it, and still do. I'm a graphic designer, which used to be called a commercial artist. I was never a fine artist, and I sure as heck had no interest in being a "starving artist". When I got my degree in graphic design from ASU, it wasn't going to be just something to hang on the wall, I wanted to work in the industry, and I did. And I was fortunate to have teachers there who did more than talk about color theory, they talked about working for clients. I learned more than just graphic design there, I learned professionalism. When I graduated, I had a portfolio to show, I knew how to make a resume, how to behave as a professional. And it did get me jobs.

Education is difficult to measure. And I know that different things are important to different people. I had gone to a University, but I essentially took classes there as if it were a trade school. My trade was going to be graphic design, and I learned the tools.

Last night, in addition to the "The End" get-together, there was the portfolio display of the graduates of the last class. And I had forgotten how wonderful it was to see, the young people nicely dressed with their work on display. That's how it is in the fields that AIPX taught, it was all about the work, whether you could do it, and whether you could show it. As always, these grads were doing that. And as always I'd say that their future was bright, with the right tools, and a continuing attitude of professionalism, and a little bit of luck. And luck favors the prepared, you know!

I'm proud of the Art Institute of Phoenix, and especially the grads!

Image at the top of this post: The Art Institute of Phoenix, 2233 W. Dunlap, Phoenix, Arizona. As of this writing, the sign is still up, but by the time you read this, the school will be history.

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