M.F.A., Goddard College, 2005
B.A., Spring Arbor University 1990
Professional Graphic Design requires the Artist to align their creations with the needs of the client. In this setting, the goal is for the Designer’s original visual concepts to merge into a successful connection with a target audience. Personal work, however, allows me to look inward and reflect on designs and ideas that are meaningful to me. One theme I’ve always been interested in is how Artists work in small town settings. In a recent solo exhibition of my work at Hillsdale College, I decided to use the community of Hillsdale as a starting point for fresh ideas. For example, I created three posters that examine how Hillsdale College faculty connect to our community and to the world around them. In other works, I considered how my Christian faith intersects with our collegiate environment. I even researched how the Hillsdale College logo developed and I designed an infographic poster about it. I utilize signs and symbols as structural elements and conveyors of meaning apart from their literal messages.
From a technical standpoint, I love building designs using Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. Sometimes I build up hundreds of layers and other times the piece is simply flat shapes and color. Color is important and, occasionally, I have used it as a key element in the concept. I love typography and will always try to use it adeptly in a design and often it becomes a dominant artistic element. I enjoy using a computer as a creative tool just as much as I enjoy using a paintbrush or an ink pen. I often utilize my drawing and painting skills to communicate an idea in an illustrative manner.
Sometimes my work is personal and attempts to visually represent thoughts I have reflected on for many years. Other times my work shows new perceptions of my surroundings. Whether I am developing a personal work or a client project the goal is the same: original ideas and unique visual designs. Lastly, it needs to be stated that all artistic endeavors require hard work. Famed Graphic Designer, Milton Glaser, said: "The real issue is not talent as an independent element, but talent in relationship to will, desire, and persistence. Talent without these things vanishes and even modest talent with those characteristics grows."
Brian Shaw has exercised his design skills in various fields including advertising, market research, corporate training and web design. He has applied himself to staying on top of the latest technology and trends in Graphic Design. With experience in both print and web design, Shaw has developed an expertise in many industry-standard software applications.
As a side interest, Shaw has illustrated children's books for notable clients such as Sea World and the Smithsonian Institution. His original acrylic paintings have been shown in numerous galleries around the country. His work has been juried into national shows and won critical acclaim for his realism and composition.
After working as a Graphic Designer for 12 years, Shaw began teaching the subject at a small, liberal arts college north of Hillsdale. He spent 20 years at that school before arriving as a full-time faculty at Hillsdale College in 2021. His priority as a teacher is to help students attain technical and creative mastery in the Graphic Arts. He believes that a full liberal arts curriculum helps fuel creative thought and is essential for critical thinking and problem-solving. Building relationships with students is important since each individual has a different creative process and requires varying approaches in the classroom. Shaw says that he feels most successful when his students are successful both inside and outside the classroom.