Being an alum of the prestigious Pratt Insitute, I not only get eager young work-study interns calling to ask for donations (with what money? I ask), but the Prattfolio in the mail. The latest issue focuses on this, the institute’s 125 year anniversary. I did enjoy the history lesson of the decade-by-decade recaps of Pratt’s shining moments, and voted for the best of the top 125 designs by fellow alumni (The Chrysler Building, hands down), but most importantly I spotted a small memorial to one of my favorite teachers: Charles Goslin
I was in Goslin’s graphic design class junior year and then again for senior project. He was about 800 years old, called all the girls he liked “lover-lips” (surprisingly not creepy, coming from him) and truly believed in clear communication over fancy design tricks. “If it is not needed, take it out” he loved to say, and I tended to agree, with my stark designs, so different from the high energy, city-that-never-sleeps work of my classmates. I can’t say I was one of his prize students – I could tell before I graduated that I didn’t have the overly competitive personality required to excel in the City – but he treated every one of us with respect and led by example with his integrity. I couldn’t bring myself to behave like some of my classmates, who refused to share Photoshop techniques or contacts in the industry, and who went out drinking with certain lecherous teachers in order to raise their grades. I just worked hard for my own benefit and didn’t care if I came out on top. After reading a snippet of the 2003 commencement speech that Goslin gave, I now see that he was a strong reinforcement in my belief of art for art’s sake:
“Never give up. Never give in. That small child with the scissors and colored paper, sitting in the middle of the parental living room rug, making shapes out of beautiful colors, for his or her own joy, not for money, not for critical acclaim, that child is you. You have the opportunity to create what never was. Forget about revolutionizing the world. Work for the joy of working, and without intending to, you will help to change your corner of the world.”
Having recently felt that my career trajectory thus far was random at best, I now see that it’s all relative. I’ve always had a communal spirit, and while that would not have resulted in much had I stayed in NYC, it’s absolutely perfect for the job I have now of working with kids (and other organizations) to spread the word about land conservation and stewardship. And my talent at taking a jumble of information and designing it in a clean way that is easy to understand (and easy to share with others) is a direct result of my time at Pratt in Goslin’s classes. It truly was a perfect jumping off point for what is now a perfect fit, and I can see that now in retrospect.
Charles Goslin died on 2007. This “lover-lips” says thank you good sir, and goodnight.
Photo from another Goslin homage at My Design Pad