Professor of Art
After earning his degree in studio art at Indiana University, David Stoddard worked as a graphic designer for a clothing company and a graphic artist at a university press.
It was during this time that the design world was transitioning from hand-built artwork to digital creation. Stoddard had experience with computers and fully embraced the new methods and tools. He worked 12 years as a designer, learning graphic design and desktop publishing as well as video editing and effects software.
“When the Internet took off in the early 1990s, I learned as much as I could on my own about web design,” Stoddard said. “Eventually, I decided that a Master's of Fine Arts would allow to learn more about new technologies and possibly teach at the university level.”
Stoddard enrolled at Memphis College of Art and earned his master’s degree in computer art and design. He began interviewing for teaching positions, and soon accepted a newly-created job at Henderson State in 1998.
“It has long been apparent that technology, information systems, art, design, science and user interface are converging,” Stoddard said. “Graduates frequently need to wear several hats, so Michael Taylor, professor of journalism, and I developed and proposed the Innovative Media program.”
Stoddard said the “beauty” of the new program is that it is designed to play to a person’s passion and natural skills.
He advises potential innovative media majors to “decide as early as you can what you really like. Be honest with yourself about your strengths and the skills you want to develop.
“Developing professional-level skills is difficult and takes dedication, work and resilience. My most successful students are those who find their own niche. They work hard because they have passion for their ideas. They develop strong portfolios and find that there is a market for their skills after graduation.”
Stoddard said the experience, skills and portfolio students build while in the innovative media program become a great asset as they enter the workforce after graduation.
“Although the program is young, all indications are that students will graduate with skills that are currently sought after by a variety of business and graduate programs,” he said. “We have had students who participated in innovative media courses hired specifically because of their work on those projects.
“The business world is highly interested in people who can think creatively and who can find new approaches and use new technologies to solve problems.”
Stoddard said he takes an “organic” approach to problem solving in his innovative media classes.
“Students solve problems because they want to further a project, not because the instructor is trying to teach them a specific lesson,” he said. “The projects are team experiences. My management style in these courses is non-pyramidal, which is rewarding on many levels when a project comes to fruition. I enjoy watching my students make discoveries.”
If he had pursued a different career, Stoddard’s creative abilities would have provided a variety of options.
“I love working with my hands and solving technical and design problems,” he said. “For example, I finished remodeling a bathroom last year – building a stone and slate walk-in shower, cabinets, etc. I enjoy repairing and upgrading vintage tube amplifiers.
“I also enjoy building 3D models and dabbling with coding for a virtual reality game experience on which my students are currently working. I am a musician, songwriter, author and cook. I would be doing some or all of these things on a more full-time basis if I were not teaching.”
Department of Art
Degree and School:
Master's of Fine Art, Memphis College of Art
* New graphics technology
• Virtual reality systems
I've been at Henderson since: