KANBAR COLLEGE OF DESIGN, ENGINEERING & COMMERCE | JEFFERSON
Frank Baseman is the Director of, and Professor in, the Graphic Design Communication program at Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University), where he has taught since 1998. In 2007, he was awarded Philadelphia University’s Innovation in Teaching Award. Work produced by his students has been recognized by the Adobe Design Achievement Awards, AIGA, Graphis New Talent Design Annual, UCDA among others.
Frank is also the Creative Director and Principal of Baseman Design Associates, an award-winning interdisciplinary graphic design firm providing strategic design thinking through visual communication solutions to businesses, corporations and institutions. In 2013, Frank was named one of the “Most Influential Graphic Designers Working Today” by GDUSA Magazine. And in 2008 he was awarded the AIGA Fellow Award from AIGA Philadelphia. He has served on the National Board of Directors of AIGA and as Founding Chair of the AIGA Design Education Community. Frank is also a printer, serving as proprietor of the respected letterpress studio Base Press.
HOW AND WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO MAKE EDUCATION A MEANINGFUL PART OF YOUR CAREER?
From the outset, I never planned to go to grad school — but then I did (long story). After that, I went out and worked some; and taught some; but I felt that I really needed more work experience before I fully belonged in the classroom. So, after several wonderful work experiences I found myself at a crossroads of sorts, and I embraced a full-time teaching gig. More than twenty years later, I’m still somehow juggling full-time teaching, my studio work and now my letterpress work. It’s crazy, but it’s all good as I thoroughly enjoy each aspect.
HOW DO YOU BALANCE THE TEACHING OF FUNDAMENTALS VERSUS THE NEED TO RESPOND TO OUR FAST-CHANGING WORLD OF MEDIA, TECHNOLOGY AND CULTURE?
Things are changing so fast that some days it is hard to keep up with it all. After many years of teaching, I find that I do tend to focus on the fundamental process(es) of how to approach the work; break down the problem; conduct thorough information gathering and research; embrace the many, varied possible solutions vying for something that is above all else — appropriate to the subject matter — and somehow special. As I believe that it is this solid foundational work process that I hope and trust students will carry with them throughout their careers as media, technology, and culture etc. keeps changing. Perhaps their approach to the work will stay consistent and carry them forward in their careers.