TYLER SCHOOL OF DESIGN
Dermot Mac Cormack is an educator, designer, and writer, living in Philadelphia. After graduating from The National College of Art & Design in Ireland, he worked at Kilkenny Design Workshops before working in various design studios in Dublin. In the mid-1980’s he moved to Philadelphia where he was hired as a designer and art director for firms such as Design Resource, SmithKline Beckman, and Marcolina Design before becoming a professor at Tyler School of Design in 1997, and forming his own small multidisciplinary design firm, 21xdesign.
He is currently the chair of the Graphic Arts & Design Department at Tyler, where he works with a diverse faculty and student body. His passion for design and education has always been driven by the desire to learn from and inspire the next generation of designers. He has also taught in Temple University’s international locations in Rome and Tokyo. His design firm, where he is a partner along with his wife Patricia McElroy, has earned numerous awards and his work has been published and shown widely.
HOW AND WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO MAKE EDUCATION A MEANINGFUL PART OF YOUR CAREER?
A good friend of mine told me of an opportunity to teach part-time at Tyler School of Art. Teaching is probably in my blood (my father taught high school for 42 years) and I think I always had it in my subconscious that one day I would teach so I jumped at the chance. Later, when a full-time position opened up I decided to change course, and I’ve been teaching at Tyler ever since. So, in a way, I sort of stumbled into it, but from day one it has always felt like this was the most natural thing in the world for me to be doing with my life.
HOW DO YOU BALANCE THE TEACHING OF FUNDAMENTALS VERSUS THE NEED TO RESPOND TO OUR FAST-CHANGING WORLD OF MEDIA, TECHNOLOGY AND CULTURE?
It’s definitely a difficult dance to hold that balance but I think that working alongside my students every day is a constant source of inspiration and learning. While the exponential pace of technological change can be daunting at times, it can be liberating too. I am constantly amazed at the caliber of work our students create and it just keeps improving and expanding each year. Another method I use to keep centered is to try and see the overview picture, and learn to love learning as a never-ending, always evolving process without predetermined outcomes. It’s a philosophy I hopefully impart to my students too.
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