In Debbie Millman’s book, How to Think Like a Great Graphic Designer, she retells the story of designer James Victore getting his first apprenticeship by asking. In his words:

I had one instructor in my second year, the graphic designer Paul Bacon. He gave me a D. But when I dropped out of school, I went to his office and said that I’d like to apprentice. I didn’t even know what it meant, but I wanted to apprentice with him. He looked at me and put his pen down and told me that no one had ever asked him that before. Then he agreed to let me do it. I learned a huge lesson at that moment: You have got to ask.

I got that apprenticeship because no one else had ever asked. So I started hanging out in Paul’s studio, looking over his shoulder. I’d get there in the morning and sweep; I didn’t really have any jobs. And then I’d hang out. When a desk was available, I tried to do some ‘real’ design. Three months after I dropped out of SVA, I had put together a portfolio with three fake book jackets. I started showing my portfolio, and I got hired right off the bat. I’ve been working ever since.

I think this is an important piece to share with student because in making a career out of what you love, you have got to have courage. Especially in the art where it is not so black and white all the times. As a young professional, there are many people in your network are available to help and give advices. There is definitely an opportunity to go beyond what is in your reach. Here is where it gets difficult: do you have the courage to admit that you don’t know something, or a lot of things, and the courage to ask somebody to tell you those things?

By giving the student an example of taking initiative and actively persistently going after their endeavor, you could give them one of the best lessons in life.

About utagtateaching

This blog is dedicated to providing resources to the Graduate Teaching Assistants in the UTA MFA program pertaining to teaching strategies, methods, and materials. We aim to start a public discussion that serves to enhance the classroom experience for both teacher and student.

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