In our conversation with Noor Baig, a junior commuter from Cherry Hill (Camden County), we learn of her own career path in graphic design. Noor shares insights on her Studio Art major and details some of the expectations in the various classes offered.
Why did you pick Rowan?
For the most part, I had picked Rowan because it was nearby and commuting is really important for me since I have an older parent. Besides that, as an art major, I had gone through their website and viewed student work which was definitely super interesting for me, along with the fact that Jan, the (now retired) head of Rowan’s Graphic Design department was emailing me through high school during my application and interview process and was incredibly helpful, friendly and personable. I had really felt that Rowan would give me the best chance to become a better student and artist.
What aspects here at Rowan made you know that this was the place you wanted to be?
Rowan was super welcoming from the start as I had met and communicated with multiple professors before my acceptance. The professors really accepted me and believed in my potential to become a better artist. I was able to build a really great rapport with a lot of my professors as well which makes the learning environment super friendly and helps to build a great community within the studio.
When I started attending classes, which usually for any studio courses are relatively small with 10-20 people maximum, I noticed how the professors are really open to learning about your artistic processes. The professors don’t just talk at you and expect you to just work, they really pull the best out of you and try to inspire you.
What have been your favorite moments so far on campus?
There are so many cool things to go and explore on campus. You’re coming out of high school, you’re a kid who was probably driven around everywhere and everything is really close by. With coming to Rowan and everything being so big you kind of realize you’re on your own now. I think that having that realization was cool but I think a lot of my favorite moments were the smaller ones. When you build up such a rapport with your professors and peers the class becomes more personable. You look forward to going to these different classes every week.
Seeing people of similar interests and working together with them builds inspiration within the class. The camaraderie that I had with my classmates is something that I always look back fondly on. It’s really nice to have such a community and have it reinforced with everyone involved.
What drew you to Studio Art?
Since I was young, most likely 11 or 12, I’ve been infatuated with art. Even now at home I have art in every room in my house, it’s kind of like an impromptu art gallery from the art that I’ve collected over the years. When I was in high school around my junior or senior year I had some friends who were also getting into the art scene, probably because they had a couple other art friends and we were all influencing one another. I had a couple of friends ask me if I would be interested in buying some of my art or set up commissions for creating art. I started to get into it. I’ve always been passionate about little details like fonts or calligraphy so I started getting routine commissions that dealt with painting or cards. I would advertise locally to my friends and teachers. Selling art was definitely a big thing for me.
Before, I hadn’t even thought I was going to go to college because of finances and other reasons. But selling art and seeing how art brings people together and its impact was a huge game changer for myself. I started to realize how much I liked it; the entire process of creating something with other people. It just made me want to continue doing more and more. I had found out more about graphic design and what Rowan had to offer. I started to realize that this possibility was within my reach and it inspired me to keep going.
However, art is always a hard thing. There’s always anxiety with job security but with graphic design, an applied art, it relieves that tension. Finding out about the opportunities that graphic design could give me and my own personal passions with the process of creating and discussing art pushed me forward to major in Studio Arts. The major is so welcoming. I knew that if I went to art school and had professors that were experienced enough, I would learn more efficiently than I would if I tried to manage it all by myself. Getting my degree would diversify my own abilities and make me better prepared to meet the goals I set out for myself.
Since the beginning, I always had my foot in every door that I could. I never really stuck directly to one thing. As cool as that was to experience, it prevents you from sticking onto one path. You have half-finished and half-learned skills. By going to college, it gave me the goal that I could run without having to stray from that path. Even that goal, the way that Rowan structures studio art, it’s very generalized, it forces you to try a little bit of everything. I feel a lot more confident in different things in comparison to before.
How do you view your major making a difference for others?
I think that art is so critical to culture, especially across time. People left different marks thousands of years ago that let us know so much now. I think that art is a hallmark of specific cultures, communities and people. The art that you make as an artist ultimately defines you. Your own art allows for others to try and peer into the type of vision that you have, what you see or are attempting to see, it marks you and defines you. By being an artist, specifically a graphic designer, I’ve always had this desire to help people out the best way I can. With graphic design, a lot of it has to do with solving problems. We solve visual problems and we help to express different ideas. We push ideas forward and help to conceptualize it and bring people together. Art as a whole is very communal, it bridges different gaps and illustrates solutions.
What classes have left the biggest impression on you?
There’s one class that comes to mind. There’s an Expressive Drawing class with Dr. Appelson, we affectionately call him Doc, it’s like an art bootcamp. Usually, you take it in the spring semester of your freshman year and it’s quite a class. Dr. Appleson has you do a lot of work every single week and he’s teaching you so much as well. It’s stressful in the moment but you realize that it’s never just busy work. Everything that is assigned has you trying or learning something new. Dr. Appleson expects you to put your best foot forward.
It’s tough, but you learn so much in the class. I really came into myself surrounding my style and everything. Funny enough, Doc has this saying where it’s one thing to see what’s on the paper or canvas, but it’s another when trying to figure out what’s going on in an artist’s head while you’re making the drawing. Doc is helping us to connect the art with the artist. While he’s tough in the class, he’s one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. He’s the unofficial mascot for Westby Hall. He always gave me so much great advice in the class and I made a lot of great work for my portfolio. It’s hard, but it’s so worth it for developing your skill set.
What are some of the different expectations in your classes?
Graphic design especially is really big on expectations. Specifically, the way that the curriculum is structured and organized. Eventually the last thing that you do in Graphic Design is called Portfolio. This is a class where you work together with students and plan the group exhibit. Every senior who is in the Art major has to have their own exhibit but in graphic design it’s more of a collective.
Everything that you do in graphic design is about organizing yourself and building up your final portfolio. The portfolio is super important for artists because it shows exactly what you’re bringing to the table. You’re showing yourself to your employer. Everything that is in it shows how diverse you’ve become since you’ve started, it shows packaging, typography, infographics, publications and things of that matter. It’s super organized and every little thing almost builds off of one another.
Out of all the classes you’ve taken so far with your major, what’s worked the best for you in learning the material?
I take a lot of studio classes, it’s more of a work time to try and explore everything. I love a good studio class; it’s super relaxing. I get into a very specific type of energy and just start powering through. It’s very liberating. Of course, professors are around for guidance if you ever need anything but I like to just keep going. Because of my own work ethic, I do have that sense of responsibility when it comes to assignments. So just being able to be on my own and knowing I have someone in my corner is super reassuring. I’m also a big fan of group critiques because of how everyone gets to voice their opinions. You get a lot of different perspectives that you may have not seen. There’s different ways of conducting critiquing but I think that working in a group and getting that extra feedback helps even my own outlook.
Are there any professors that you’ve had that stood out to you? Why?
I’m so thankful that I’ve been able to build such a rapport with a lot of my professors that it’s kind of hard to pick just one out. They all have their own unique outlook which reflects in the class. I really appreciate a lot of my professors who create such a cohesive work environment. Everyone is so respectful of one another and keeps it all so casual. For example, I had a class called Color Theory with Professor Alicia Finger and everybody was in such deep contact with each other. Prof. Finger is a great communicator and it resonated with the class. It’s casual, but such a friendly work environment. As for teaching style, again Prof. Finger was great. We were able to talk out some of the different theories in class. Being in college, there’s a lot of freedom to come into yourself and discover one’s own interests. The professors understand this in the art sector and allow us to try and explore our own self. With my professors’ help I was able to commit to myself and find my own style.
Like what you see?
Lucas Taylor, Graduate Education Major