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Faculty Q&A: Meet Dave Kafton, Graphic Designer

Studying art in college is tough. What used to be the occasional drawing or pottery class turns into a full time blur of artsy homework assignments and looming end-of-semester projects. Getting the most out of your education means embracing new, more flexible ways of thinking. And to make your way in the world after graduating, you’ll have to learn how to support your passions as a professional artist.

Luckily, BEAU’s faculty is more than happy to help you along.

Each semester, a crack team of artists, wizards, and great minds arrives on BEAU’s campus to teach and share with our students, and every year a new class graduates and heads out to make the world more colorful. For this week’s article, we wanted to share some wisdom from one of those amazing teachers.

Behold Dave Kafton and his excellent beard:

Dave is an artist, and he teaches the principles of graphic design at BEAU. We asked him a couple of questions about why he loves graphic design and whether he had any advice for new artists. Here’s what he had to say:

When and why did you first decide to pursue your artistic passion as a vocation?

I have always had a passion for art. I never wanted to be anything other than an artist. I think part of the reason was that my grandfather was an artist, and I was always very close to him.

Who inspires you in your field? What other artists or professionals do you look up to and why?

Well, I told you about my grandfather. I always looked up to him and wanted to be an artist. However, I viewed art differently than he did. My style was influenced more by Gustav Klimt and Alphonse Mucha.

The Precious Stones series, Alphonse Mucha (1900)

Do you have any advice for new students interested in pursuing a career in graphic design?

If you just want to make money, try being a doctor or a lawyer. Only pursue a career in art if you have a real passion for what you are doing.

Many artists choose not to pursue higher education after graduating from high school. What do you believe are the benefits to working through a college degree?

Confidence. Not only the technical knowledge of what you are doing, but also the ability to explain your concepts to clients, supervisors, and peers.

What are the top three things freshmen should do to be successful when working toward a bachelor’s degree in graphic design?

  1. Learn how to use ALL the programs, and use the correct program for the job you are doing.
  2. Have an attitude that there is alway something more that you can learn. Don’t think you know it all; develop a “what can I learn from this person/situation” attitude.
  3. Listen.

Do you practice graphic design or other artistic ventures outside of the professional arena? If so, why?

Before anything else I am an artist, and even though I’m employed as a graphic designer, there are things that I want to or need to do for my own personal growth and artistic expression. To quote Charlie Peacock, “It’s not just about creativity; it’s about the person you’re becoming while you’re creating.”

How has your discipline changed over the past ten years? How do you see it changing over the next ten?

Every industry changes. When I first started as a graphic designer, I worked in a shop that still used lead type and a letterpress for some jobs. Now everything is digital. Who knows how things will change in the future? The important things are to roll with the changes and don’t let your industry pass you by. Always continue to learn…but at the same time, good design is good design. The medium may change, but the elements and principles of design will not.

Want to meet Dave and other geniuses like him? Apply to BEAU’s graphic design program. Come tell us why you love art, and we’ll teach you how to turn that love into a career.   

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