Hailing from Ashville, North Carolina, please welcome new online instructor, Eric Pieper!
What brought you into this field?
It took me really struggling to embrace the start of my college career as a business major. Thankfully I trusted that something was not feeling right, took a little bit of time off, and realized that art and design had always been a part of my life…even if I had not really noticed it. I grew up heavily into skateboarding, and was always making shirts, stickers, posters and ‘zines with my friends. Realizing that it could be the perfect career, I shifted my focus to a design degree, and quickly evolved and thrived as an A+ student. Soon thereafter, I cold-called a great little design agency in my town and weaseled my way into an internship. Now coming up on almost 20 years later – I’m still very happy doing this kind of work because I can always find ways to keep it fresh, different and exciting.
Tell us about an especially rewarding project you worked on and why you enjoyed it so much.
I am in the middle of a project right now that is directly influencing my local neighborhood: Beacham’s Curve. I live in a quickly growing city called Asheville, NC that has always taken pride in its weird and unique identity. As any city starts to grow up, I think the local creative class has an important job to help shape the visual identity of their city. After all, we are the ones that design the logos, signs, menus and murals that visually express the city’s vibe. With that in mind, we befriended a local developer who is drastically changing a big major corner a block away from my house, and thankfully, he’s a developer with heart and soul. We are now working together to make sure this corner is embraced by the locals and becomes an attribute to the community – instead of just a simple, under-thought eyesore. Our work will extend through logo and branding, community events, walls for public art, special hidden little moments, and overall an appreciation of the history that existed here in the past. It’s fulfilling not only because it directly impacts our lives, but also because there is just a lot of creative freedom that is not necessarily tied to the computer. Lots of site visits, exploring signage options, etc… I could go on and on (because it’s kind of a dream project)!
Why is your course, Design IV: Capstone, important for my design education?
As a class, I want the social cause that we tackle together to show students how rewarding it is to use the power of design and communication to bring important issues to light. Sometimes it’s hard to ‘make up reasons’ for a new brand that doesn’t really have a strong back-story. I face that challenge in my career all the time. But being able to leverage the unique and special story behind social issues in the civic realm, and bring them to life through words and images, provides a surge of inspiration that yields amazing results.
As an instructor, I bring a well-seasoned and unique creative perspective to class. I have worked in multiple aspects of the design world over the course of my career thus far: fresh intern, jr. designer at small creative studios, in-house sr. designer at TOMS Shoes (as they grew exponentially), busy freelance designer, art director at a big ad agency, and now as the owner of my own design and branding studio called Homestead. There are so many directions to take a design career (or even just a project for that matter) – and I can help expose students to just how wide and wonderful this world of creativity and design can be! I’m beyond passionate about design and creativity, and hope that students leave very inspired by my enthusiasm.
Do you have a sample assignment?
One of our class assignments will be to discuss and explore ways to create hand-made elements, and then bring those assets into the digital realm for use on the bigger project. Since the overall design and branding project will be for a real-world social cause, this will be a great chance to learn how (even very tiny) human elements can really bring an issue or cause to life, and connect with the public on an emotional level.
Thanks so much, Eric!
Enroll in Design IV: Capstone today.