SPOTLIGHT ON GRAPHIC DESIGN TUTOR DAN JOHNSON

Hey I’m Dan! I teach in the Graphic Design department here in Christchurch. I’ve been at ACG Yoobee for ten years – in fact I just celebrated my anniversary last week!

How did you end up at ACG Yoobee?
Since my teens I have been involved in music and bands. A large part of that was making posters, tape cassette covers, music videos, and fake IDs. It was all very cheap and non-digital but workable and practical were the core concepts. From there I slowly drifted into the digital realm and became a teacher. I worked at an international school in Japan before coming back to NZ in the mid-2000’s and starting at ACG Yoobee (then Natcoll).

What excites you about teaching?
Trying out new techniques, having fun with different briefs, getting my hands dirty.

I usually try to complete the assignment that the class is working on. I made a good book about the Hells Angels motorcycle club based on some rejected material from LIFE magazine. I work in an excellent team and have lots of opportunities to try creative endeavours. It’s really rewarding seeing my students succeed and being part of their story.

How has design education changed from when you first started out? And why is it so important?
I don’t know that it has changed that much. There are newer versions of software and slightly different technical issues to resolve but the fundamentals are still there. That’s what is important. A strong grounding in the fundamentals.

What are the top three qualities that a student needs to succeed?
A good work ethic.

A desire to make things perfect. (They won’t ever be).

To be interested in things.

What have been your biggest creative achievements so far?
Working with musicians I get to do lots of creative work - but I think that rebuilding/fixing up our home has been one of the more rewarding projects so far

What about your biggest mistakes?
I made a couple of serious lost page headings in a book I did for a friend, when after a last minute change on one page the linked text boxes sent some of the headings to the previous page. I also sent a CD cover to the printer with an older version of the art. These last minute changes and not proofing work cost me a few hundred dollars but I have learned from my mistakes and it WON’T happen again.

What do you do with yourself outside of ACG Yoobee?
I’m still in a band and we’re just about to record and produce our second album. Oh and I just did some shop signage for a friend’s shop in Lyttelton.

Any words of wisdom for those considering pursuing a career in graphic design?
Make sure this is something you actually enjoy and get satisfaction from. Oh and don’t expect to make a lot of money!