001. A Prologue with Gary Rozanc: The State of Design Education

Abbreviated Transcript
Recorded 5.3.2019, Aired 5.10.2019

0:00:00 [bumper with sound effects]

0:00:08 [teaser intro]

Gary: To me the biggest thing right now is that I think we are in the most exciting time for design education and design in general and the thing is I feel like design education totally missed the boat on web design, but static web design, meaning, you know before the iPhone and then really before responsive web design came out 2010, it was static and it was really no different than designing for a poster or business card. Design education has a chance to, like, be the leader of the design discipline instead of just, you know, like you're playing catch-up — and that's the negative side of the state is that, we are still kind of… I think a lot of programs are still stuck in print only and they haven't embraced that yet.

0:00:50 [music]

0:00:58 [guest bio]

Pete: Welcome to The DESIGNED Podcast. Today's guest, Gary Rozanc. Gary is an assistant professor of graphic design at the University of Maryland Baltimore County and the education director for the AIGA Baltimore. He received his BA in graphic design from Cleveland State University and his MFA in Visual Communications from the University of Arizona. Gary researches the best practices for teaching interactive and user experience design specifically finding the ideal balance of visual design user experience and front-end development skills for the emerging interactive designer. His research evolves into interviews with design practitioners to determine contextualize and prioritize these competencies and is distributed via Gary's award-winning podcast series Design EDU Today. Gary has presented his research and findings at international and national peer reviewed conferences including AIGA’s bi-annual National Conference Head, Heart, Hand and the International Conference on Design Principles and Practices as well as many other conferences. Without further adieu, I hope you enjoy our conversation.

0:02:14 [end music]

0:02:15 [begin interview]

Pete: Gary, welcome to The DESIGNED Podcast, how are you?

Gary: Thanks for having me I really appreciate it and I'm, I'm, doing good hanging in there at the end of the semester…

0:02:52 [Gary Rozanc academic path]

Pete: So tell me a little bit about you and your path into academics if you will.

Gary: Sure, I kind of pride myself on the fact that I did everything… I was working for a diskette duplication company and I'm the one who figured out how to do the pre-press to get the label artwork on the labels… I started going to the Community College… I didn't have a portfolio so I couldn't get the job cuz I was just doing ya know 99% pre-press… in like three semesters I got my bachelor's. I met my undergrad Professor Jennifer [inaudible] she just inspired me to teach… I ended up moving to Arizona, going to University of Arizona and getting my MFA… I had student teaching opportunities there… My first job I really loved…

0:06:24 [the state of design education]

Pete: The state of design education; could you reflect a little bit on what you think is the state of design education.

Gary: I could talk about that for hours, but to keep it brief… To me the biggest thing right now is that I think we are in the most exciting time for design education and design in general and the thing is I feel like design education totally missed the boat on web design, but static web design, meaning, you know before the iPhone and then really before responsive web design came out 2010, it was static and it was really no different than designing for a poster or business card…

0:10:25 [time and motion]

Pete: 4D?

Gary: I haven't thought about that at all, curricularly. I’ve chosen to stick to responsive web design and we’ve decided, let's be the leaders in like responsive web design so that's where I've been putting my energies and efforts into.

0:11:45 [print vs digital]

Pete: Print versus Digital?

Gary: If you look at all the jobs, at least in the cities, I mean — I understand you're in Arkansas you may have a different Regional profile — for my time in Arizona, Illinois, Ohio, Maryland, it's predominantly 99.9% interactive web, app, whatever. So my my knee-jerk reaction is why the hell aren't we totally teaching 100% digital. But then I stop and I have to stop breathe think… all these people [students] are getting jobs! So what we are doing in print is translatable…

0:14:10 [design for screen]

Pete: Design for screen is a whole area in itself, is that somewhere that you're looking for growth? is that somewhere that design programs should be considering beyond web or is it cross-media?

Gary: One example, I know people still love the printed book, but I don't like the Clutter of the book. I just don't! I would rather have ebooks. But their terrible! They're just designed horribly and they don't have to be! There's some limitations; and then the others are just glorified PDFs and unless you have an iPad or 12 inch iPad Pro to look at it on… Your phone or trying to get on anything else, is just terrible…

0:19:45 [art and design]

Pete: Art and Design? Or, Art vs Design? How do they work together, do they work together?

Gary: They definitely work together but I do see a distinction… it's not the same, you know you can't take an artistic image-making approach to a banking website [and design]…

0:26:05 [foundations]

Pete: What would you consider “untouchables” in the foundations that just have to be there, they’re staples, and what can we do differently?

Gary: Foundations in an art and design program or foundations in a graphic design only program? I think what would be untouchable, I can only think of things that I question the value of. I don't know, this is a tough one and I’ll just outright say it. I'm going to say, in an art and design program, I have one type of drawing, maybe two, still life and maybe life drawing and that's it. I think actually a kind of architectural rendering would be a much better tool for graphic designers, that they're not going to have in any other type of drawing…

0:35:06 [design curriculum]

Pete: Design curriculum, where you think will be in one year, 5-years, maybe even 10-years?

Gary: 10-years I think we'll be there and I'm going to use myself as an example. I took it upon myself to teach myself HTML, CSS, little bit of JavaScript, little bit of PHP, and I had no idea the best practices. The incoming people who are graduating now, are learning best practices. In some cases they are either learning best practices or creating best practices, and so in the next 5 to 10 years you're going to have the baby boomers who are fully retired and you're going to have this influx of young people [MFA grads… in design education]…

0:42:33 [advice for design educators]

Pete: What advice would you give design educators to better prepare their students during their academic journey and then obviously post-graduation?

Gary: I literally just thought of one when I was listening to you talk… If you're if you're in a rural community get a bus and make them go to someplace they are uncomfortable with vice-versa in the city… I have one colleague, she embraced [technology], now she has students in her typography class, she has them use Adobe XD, she makes them look at the typography on their phone by just simply plugging in a cord and she has no web experience but she is brave enough to do this…

0:45:54 [closing]

Pete: It's been a great conversation. I really appreciate it. There's more conversation to come. I think this is the prologue that I'm looking for to get the discussion started so that we can continue to have that conversation regarding creating success in design education. It’s going to be fun!…

0:46:32 [another piece of advice]

Gary: Hey there’s another final piece of advice… Open source! For the love of God! I mean, academics hide stuff [why]. All my materials, everything, is online — like I said, I freely give you that stuff because everybody should share…

0:47:06 [more to come and re-closing]

Pete: Before I let you go, is there anything you are working on that you want to let people know about?

Gary: Sadly of if you look at the podcast it's been in hiatus and that was literally because I was putting together my tenure application, and now I'm associate chair, and now we're applying for NASAD, so my research has suffered. The podcast isn't going away! I do have some ideas with it and where I want to take it. I recently did a survey and…

0:49:25 [music and outro]

Pete: Thank you for joining me on this episode. The DESIGNED podcast website is located at thedesignpodcast.com, there you can find notes on the episode, links to our guests, links to resources and more regarding the many things discussed during each show. If you find The DESIGNED Podcast interesting and informative please subscribe on Apple podcast or on your favorite podcast service. You can also follow the design podcast on Instagram and Facebook [and Twitter] and subscribe to our video version of the podcast on YouTube. Please join us for the next episode of The DESIGNED Podcast and let's continue to create success in design education.

0:50:12 [bumper and sound effects]

Links of note!

Where to find Gary Rozanc online:

Mentioned during the podcast:

Music featured on this Episode

  • Opening and closing track: “Street Background Vlog Hip-Hop.mp3”

Where to find The DESIGNED Podcast

Where to find Pete Bella online

Contact The DESIGNED Podcast