Monday, November 2, 2009

Lecture One: University of Hertfordshire


The day started off lovely, it had rained most of Sunday but Monday morning is bright and sunny, a bit cooler but still nice. A quick walk to Knightsbridge station and we were of to King's Cross to catch the morning train to Hatfield. Just two stops on the express train outside of London we arrived in Hatfield, took a cab to the campus, entered the Todd Building and rang up Adam Graff who quickly met us in the lobby and then took us for a quick espresso before getting setup for the lecture. Adam, a noted illustrator, has been teaching at the university for ten years, just finished his masters and is a proud new papa.

Everything was running swimmingly until the presentation was about to begin, then technology raised its ugly head. It took well over 20 minutes to get a picture on the overhead screen but everyone was quite patient during the process. A bit of background, the history of American illustration, three tips every successful illustrator knows and a list of Do's and Don'ts that young illustrators need to know and an hour and forty-five minutes later the talk was done.

Off to lunch at the school's new food court and Catell Ronca joined us, Catell teaches the first year students and is a graduate of the Royal College of Art; Adam teaches the second year students. Unlike America there is one instructor per year and the curriculum is very hands-on practical assignments taken from real jobs. Adam permitted Sarah and I to sit in on one of the classes for an hour or so and we were able to see first hand Adam's teaching style and the work he is getting from his students. And we learned a bit about British humor and how each of his students approached their assignment.

Conceptual thinking is stressed from day one at the school, everyone enters the Communication Design department but in the second year the students decide on which direction they would like to pursue: design or illustration. You could see the results of their thinking in the sketches they presented to Adam, they did their research on the different sayings as related to the game Bingo and then showed a number of solutions to the visual problem. Just like in the real world they were given limited time to complete the assignment.

Then it was time to head back to London. We appreciated the hospitality Adam and his group granted us, it was a pleasure to speak in front of such a receptive audience. One down, five lectures to go!

Photo of Adam Graff by Sarah Munt

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