Having grown up in Fairmont I always knew of the college, my dad took my brother and I to watch basketball games and I took swimming lessons at the Feaster Center! When I got a little older, I attended the Governor’s School for the Arts in 1998, which was hosted there. I got to know Dean Suzanne Snyder and Lynn Boggess who was the drawing and painting instructor there and at Fairmont. It was the first time my eyes were opened up to what it is to be a real artist.
Were you a commuter or a resident?:
I was a commuter. I lived with my parents on the East Side of Fairmont.
What activities were you involved with as a student?:
Well, I kept very busy with the Creative Arts Organization for Students (CAOS). I ended up as a PR officer and eventually Vice President. We grew the membership considerably and, perhaps most proudly, we regularly conducted 5 or 6 art shows per year instead of just one or two. We got students creating and showing work more often. We also arranged field trips to Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and New York to see art in museums there.
Of all the classes you took, what is the one class you would recommend everyone take? Who taught it? Why would you recommend it?:
I enjoyed so many, really. Art History with Marian Hollinger is one I look back on with fondness. I love visiting museums when I travel and, as they say, every picture tells a story. I’ve managed to keep learning about art and artists as I’ve gotten older and more travelled. When in Europe, I followed the last footsteps of Van Gogh around Auvers-sur-Oise (literally to his grave) and visited Monet’s gardens at Giverny. Without the art history background, those places just wouldn’t carry the depth of meaning that they deserve.
Did you have a favorite professor, staff member, coach, or mentor who really impacted your life?:
Most likely Lynn Boggess (and his wife Jennifer). They were supportive of our student group and really helped foster those friendships and efforts on and off campus. Mr. and Mrs. Boggess set a really good tone in the classroom about the level of work expected and pushed students to be their best. Professor Clovis retired at the end my freshman year, but he was great too – unintentionally very humorous in the way he would tell you something with no-nonsense.
Share your best college memory.:
It’s tough to choose one, but here’s a funny one I think of every now and then. Speaking of Mr. Boggess, there was a time when the class was seemingly not living up to his expectation. He called the class together with a motivational speech that contained “this ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco, this ain’t no fooling around” that had me looking around at my peers like, “we all know that’s a song lyric, right?”
What do you remember most vividly from your time at Fairmont State?:
Honestly, I just cherish the time spent with friends, learning and growing up together. Meeting in the Turley Center between classes, working in the studio or the darkroom on projects, and hanging student art for shows.
Describe Fairmont State in three words.:
Accessible, integral, exceptional
What do you wish you had known before graduating and entering the "real world"?:
A little more about the business of art and graphic design. In those days digital graphic design was just taking off and you had to be a self-starter. I wish I knew more about what the career path for a graphic designer would be. What to aim for in 5, 10 or 15 years down the road. What is it like to work at an agency? What are the top agencies? What skills should I work on after graduation?
How did your experience at Fairmont State shape your career path?:
I started my career as a graphic designer before moving into marketing management. I had a major interest in interactive design, which my professors encouraged. Some other students preferred print. At least in those days, a lot of the time you could choose your focus to hone your craft.
What advice or insight do you have for Fairmont State alumni and students interested in your career field?:
In design at least employers want to see your work. If you don’t have real world work, undertake redesigns for existing companies. Fill your portfolio with only the best and remove the rest. Understand business as best you can. When making decisions, be able to explain why you took that course of action or that design. Good managers will let their employees guide the project, but they also have to explain design decisions to clients or upper-management. Good communication is not just for your work to do, but for you, too.
What is the last book you read? :
Articulating Design Decisions by Tom Greever. A book I have owned for three years but just got around to reading. It covers quite a lot about what I said to the previous question and would highly recommend it to anyone who is a designer or works with designers.
List 3-5 fun facts about yourself that most people probably wouldn’t know. :
I write a travel blog with my photography at http://www.jontheroadagain.com
My wife and I are big supporters of art and theatre going to 20-25 opera/theatre/symphony events each year