Allan Espiritu, founder of GDLOFT PHL, is a Philadelphia-based, award-winning graphic designer and educator. Espiritu received his BA in graphic design from Rutgers University – Camden and his MFA in graphic design from the Yale University School of Art. Espiritu is also an Associate Professor at Rutgers University-Camden where he heads the Graphic Design concentration. Espiritu’s work has been published and acknowledged by AIGA, GDUSA, UCDA, Graphis, Communication Arts, Print Magazine, HOW, STEP, Applied Arts, and the Art Directors Club. His work has also appeared in Gestalten and Rockport publications and in various galleries and museums, most recently at The Barnes Museum in Philadelphia, as part of the Person of the Crowd: The Contemporary Art of Flânerie Exhibition. He served as President of the AIGA Philadelphia Chapter from 2011 to 2013 and was recently named the 2017 AIGA Philadelphia Fellow.
HOW AND WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO MAKE EDUCATION A MEANINGFUL PART OF YOUR CAREER?
After graduate school, I had no intention to teach. But after teaching for close to 13 years, I really can’t envision my design practice without it. Teaching allows me to constantly analyze my own approach to design, as well as the profession at large. My students connect me to the zeitgeist and contemporary perspectives. In addition, the academic world has afforded me the ability to create work that may have more of a social impact and personal relevance.
IS THERE A SPECIAL CHALLENGE TO EDUCATING STUDENTS IN 2017 IN LIGHT OF TODAY’S CULTURE OR POLITICS OR ECONOMICS OR TECHNOLOGY OF THIS MOMENT?
We live in uncertain and tumultuous times. As educators, we need to develop skills in our students that extend beyond graphic design. For me, the following serves as the foundation of this pedagogy:
- Develop independent and critical thinking so students can decipher the bombarding “noise” put out by the media, politics and technology.
- Assist in defining and creating awareness of their individual perspective by constantly questioning and addressing their unique cultural positions.
- Encourage the development of interests and inspirations beyond design. Looking “inward (at graphic design) only perpetuates imitation of graphic methods and aesthetics.”