(ROSENBERG, Texas) – From billboards to mail advertising, logos to company branding, the world is filled with messages that were designed to catch the eye. Each message is carefully crafted to appeal to a specific audience, to draw them in and get them to engage.
“It’s not art for art’s sake,” said Christina Hollis, statewide department chair for Texas State Technical College’s Digital Media Design program. “It’s art for a purpose.”
The program, which is taught fully online, teaches students how to create compelling designs for print, video filming and editing, and web. While there is not much in the way of programming or coding, students do learn how to design websites and applications in a way that allows them to hand their content off easily to a programmer.
The goal of such a broad approach is to equip students with a foundational knowledge of any skill that they may need in the workforce. In doing so, they become much more desirable to potential employers.
“Students have the flexibility, if they went to work for an ad agency and were hired to be a print designer, that if the moment came up that they needed web design or videography, they could do that,” Hollis said. “We give them (the students) enough skill sets that they can go work for a mom and pop shop and do everything for them, or they can specialize and go a certain direction.”
Digital Media Design was one of the first programs at TSTC to adopt the performance-based education model, meaning that students are able to work at their own pace and even take classes ahead of schedule if they are understanding the material being taught.
Both Hollis and Michael Lewis, the statewide lead instructor for the program, find that students who have been creative throughout their lives tend to thrive.
“We try to encourage students that if they like to be creative, if they like to draw or doodle, they can come and make a living out of it,” Lewis said. “We can teach them how to use technology and digital tools to express themselves and, at the same time, be a benefit to a business or a client who’s wanting to get their image and message out there to the public.”
Both Hollis and Lewis come from the industry and bring with them the skills and techniques they learned during their time working. For both of them, the works of others helped inspire them down their career path.
“In 1986 I found myself on the TSTC campus in Waco, and they had a program called Commercial Advertising,” Lewis said. “I went up to the second floor, saw these wonderful drawings and illustrations and graphic design stuff, and I was like, ‘My goodness, I’m not the only creative one in the world.’ But I also said to myself, ‘I think I can compete with these guys.’”
Learning and seeking inspiration from others is core to the program and to being a successful designer, Hollis and Lewis find. To them, for those interested in using art and design to craft messages, there is no better place than TSTC.
“You’re getting personalities across the state of Texas,” Hollis said. “Many different facets of industries, multiple cities and different backgrounds all come together to teach you.”
According to onetonline.org, graphic designers in Texas can earn a median salary of $50,970 a year. The website projected that there would be a 10% increase in the number of such jobs in the state from 2020 to 2030.
TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree and multiple certificates of completion in Digital Media Design, all fully online.
Registration for TSTC’s fall semester is underway. For more information, go to tstc.edu.