002. A Prologue with Diane Gibbs: The State of Design Education

Abbreviate Transcript
Recorded 5.6.2019, Aired 5.24.2019

0:00:00 [bumper with sound effects]

0:00:07 [teaser intro]

Pete: If we can get into it here, can you talk to me a little bit about what you feel is the state of design education

Diane: It's really changed over the years I think the students have changed there's a lot of online learning there's a lot of really good programs that are out there but I don't think everybody needs to go to school…

0:00:23 [music]

0:00:28 [guest bio]

Pete: Thanks for joining us for another episode of The DESIGNED Podcast today's guests, Diane Gibbs. Diane received her BFA from Auburn University then worked as a designer in Denver before continuing her design education at Virginia Commonwealth University where she earned her MFA. Diane has been a designer for over 20 years and has been running her own freelance design firm Little Bird Communications since 2002. She's been teaching graphic design at the University of South Alabama since 2003. She has spoken at many different conferences on a variety of topics from creativity to leadership. In May of 2012 to keep herself inspired and connected with other creative Diane started a weekly video podcast called Design Recharge where she interviews creatives and Industry leaders from around the globe. Anyone can join for the live show which is every Wednesday from January through November at 2:30 p.m. eastern time 11:30 a.m. Pacific time. Diane is passionate about helping creatives grow their business and she serves as a Matchmaker for budding creative entrepreneurs by connecting them with emerging creatives who have recently joined the industry through her side project Recruiting Creatives. Let's continue to the show and listen in to what Diane has to say about creating success in design education.

0:01:45 [end music]

0:01:46 [begin interview]

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

Diane: Thank you so much for having me…

0:02:16 [Diane Gibbs academic path]

Pete: Tell me a little bit about you, tell me about your path into and through Academia, if you will.

Diane: Sure. So, I did undergrad at Auburn University. I grew up in Atlanta Georgia and Auburn is just inside the Alabama border and study graphic design, and then I went and worked in Denver as a designer for about five years and then I was really felt called to be a teacher. I knew I wanted to be a teacher but I was having too much fun snowboarding and I didn't ever pursue that for a while. I left Denver and went to Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond Virginia and it was a two-year program. I got my Master's and then I thought I wanted some teaching experience — I didn't have any teaching experience — I thought that would help me get a job and it did. So I thought about four graphic design classes each semester just to get my feet wet. Then, I got a job at the University of South Alabama and I have been here ever since. We have really grown…

0:04:31 [the state of design education]

Pete: So you have a diverse background in places that you've studied and taught, so if we can, we'll dive right into it here, can you talk to me a little bit about what you feel is the state of design education?

Diane: Well I know that education… I've been teaching, this is my 15th year, I'm wrapping up my 15th-year and which seems really old but I don't feel like… I feel like I just started you know? So you know it's really changed over the years. I think the students have changed… I think that's something I didn't realize… I didn't realize the students would change or what was expected or how they were prepped from high school would really be different, but that really has. And I think the other thing I didn't realize was, you know, 2008 when the economy tanked…

0:06:55 [Arts in High School]

Pete: There has been a big change in arts in high school over the last decade, or two decades for that matter, slow but yet quite Progressive, I think it’s affecting us in a negative manner if you will what's your thoughts on that?

Diane: I agree. I think that, I actually feel like it's, where I am most of our students are just commuters so… we don't have a ton of people from a lot of different places. A lot of our students are just from… about a 50 mile radius, maybe 75 mile radius… some of the bigger schools they're coming from all over the nation… they have some pull… the rest of us are kind of building these programs and there is not a lot of, or at all, art in these high schools…

0:09:00 [the world of online learning]

Pete: So the world of online learning, what are your thoughts there? I have thoughts but I don't want to influence yours?

Diane: Oh you're not going to influence mine. I want to know yours to so…

0:09:18 [I get quizzed]

Pete: There's online learning where design programs have classes that you can take online and then there's online learning by all the open-source resources that are out there where, I don't have to go to a university and I could just study online from that.

Diane: What do you think the advantages are for the second one… What do you think the disadvantages are… It’s a relationship game…

0:18:00 [art and design]

Pete: Art and design, or art vs design?

Diane: I think we're better together. I see a lot of people who are in a design program, or think they want to do design, and they just don't either have it or… they thought it was something else — and I kind of hate that. That's the kind of student I have right… they haven't had a lot of art classes before so they may never have heard of design… it's not an art school you know… it's at University that I'm at, so I like being at a well-rounded university… I think we're better together, we're stronger, it also builds relationships with people that a designer could help an artist and we could help…

0:19:48 [naming a program]

Pete: How does the naming of a program then effect that? A quick little background context…

Diane: I’ve only been at the same school… At BCU it was communication design, it was in the Communication Art and Design program, but it was really just graphic design. We had some illustration but really that was what it was. At Auburn it was just Art and Design, now it's art and architecture, or its architecture and design, it's with industrial design, it changed colleges… I honestly — you're probably not going to like this answer, but, I just think it’s…

0:25:45 [foundations]

Pete: What do you consider to be the untouchables in foundations and what could be done differently?

Diane: Man I have tons of ideas for this. We have perceptual drawing one, perceptual drawing two, 2D design… perceptual drawing, teaching kids how to draw. I would love I have one of those and then have something else that was design related, that was graphic design related. I would love to have…  

0:27:30 [practicality and business]

Pete: Then what would you do differently with 2D and drawing then, what kind of changes would be involved in them? It would not necessarily be the basic objectives right, because learning outcomes probably can't adjust much, so what would you bring to it?

Diane: I think if I was teaching 2D I would probably… I think what I found frustrating, and when I hear kids when I'm advising, they're like, “well I don't know how I’m going to use this.” I would love to make it more practical, but I again am less theory, I am way more practical. I want to get kids jobs. I want them to be able to work, and I want them to help a client, and help a customer, and so I try to bring the business into my classes… This is where it becomes [more] about design then it is about art. I feel like art is for you and for you and other people can enjoy it. But the purpose is for you and then for design the purpose is not for you, the purposes is for someone else. It’s trying to meet somebody else's need and you have a definite goal of whatever it is you want to bring — more customers in, or you want to get more emails, or you want to sell more juice or whatever it is. You know. And so there's something a little bit more trackable and it's less of a reflection of…

0:32:30 [design curriculum]

Pete: What's the most important thing for design curriculum in 1-year, 5-years, and even 10-years? What's most important as we as we continue to grow and transform?

Diane: I think I can say in all those, is the professors need to stay current in the field. And in 1-year I would say that that might look like some, more looking at where the trends are and what people are needing and I think that we've been needing social media classes… Really a need for UX/UI and maybe incorporating that into our all of our curriculums. Or helping them understand that the problems they're solving is for is a user experience problem, or this is an interface problem. Whether it is a brochure or whether it's an app, right, printed or or not…

0:39:13 [entrepreneurship]

Pete: So I'm going to bring you all the way back to [entrepreneurship] you talked about entrepreneurship, do you want to elaborate on that in this context at all?

Diane: I think that it's usually not something that a lot of kids are thinking about. I think that they would love to do, you know, like, I was talking to a student alumni from another school earlier today and, you know, they're still very focused on them and, you know… They just haven't gotten that it's really about what problem you're solving for somebody else and it's not about what they can give you. I think that's a shift that needs to be in…

0:42:57 [closing]

Pete: Before I let you go, what are you working on, what are you doing personally, anything that you want to share, talk about, promote? You know, let’s know what's going on in Diane's world.

Diane: I have my own business and I'm I try to stay current and I always seem like I'm not doing this right and I’m not doing that right… But I think by doing this and talking to other people who are 100 percent professionals, they're not doing this as a side gig, kind of…

I have my own podcast called Design Recharge and it's really for freelancer. So people who are like me maybe, you have a full-time job, and then they're trying to make that side business more lucrative, sometimes it's the side project that has really taken off, or it's somebody… My podcast is more for people I would say in transition or people who are full-time Freelancers and they need help understanding their business…

I'm starting a coaching, it's called Design Recharge Pro Power Station and right now it's in the beta and will go live in June and will be…

I'm also doing my first children's book so my friend Lydia who I used to work with in Denver reached out and I'm meeting with her tomorrow so it's I'm going to illustrate and I'm super scared about all of those things… I think you have to lean in and trust you are in a good place.

0:52:33 [music and outro]

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.

0:53:20 [bumper and sound effects]

Links of note!

Where to find Diane Gibbs 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