Interview with Pete Episcopo, Adobe Education LeaderInterviews August 28, 2013
Creativity is not only earned but learned. Educators and teachers as well as educational tools and facilities play an important role in shaping the creative minds of future creative professionals. And in the process of learning, digital media has helped both teachers and students to spread the message across and reach success in every creative endeavor.
To further explore this thought, YTD got the chance to interview Adobe Education Leader, Pete Episcopo. He is a course director at Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida. He formerly served as lead teacher in the development and operation of the Academy for Digital Arts & Media (ADAM) in Viera, Florida. In the interview below, Pete talks about his career, his role as an educator, Behance, collaboration and share insights on how technology and networking help shape the creative industry today.
I believe the future creative will not simply need to adapt to technology’s forward march, but be someone who can help contribute to its development. The creatives of tomorrow should be able to assist with making and doing things better through innovative thinking and design.
YTD: Hi Pete! Welcome to You The Designer. Tell us something about you and what you do.
PETE: Thanks for inviting me here to You The Designer. I’ve spent the last 25 years or so creating, directing and teaching digital media beginning in the NJ/NY area and now at Full Sail University in Central Florida. My experience with digital audio, graphics, video and effects began in the 1980s with the arrival of the desktop personal computer and continues today, so I have a rather long view of where digital media has come from and how it is transforming the world around us.
The last eight years of my life have been spent in education: setting up a high school digital media academy in Central Florida, starting a “bring your own technology” pilot program there, conducting an action research project focusing on engaging students and teachers with technology, and now working with a very talented team at Full Sail developing a new degree program called Media Communications Bachelors of Science.
YTD: How do you usually start your day?
PETE: I set up a Symbaloo page that retrieves information on news, tech, education, business and, of course, sports (I’m a die-hard NY sports fan). After coffee and information, I move ahead with activities related to the courses I teach at Full Sail and creating content for the latest presentations or initiatives.
YTD: As an educator what do you think is the role of teachers today in shaping the future creatives of this generation?
PETE: First of all, I believe the future creative will not simply need to adapt to technology’s forward march, but be someone who can help contribute to its development. I think that educators should be people who facilitate the development of skills (creative, collaborative and communicative), while encouraging students to problem solve through better design. The creatives of tomorrow should be able to assist with making and doing things better through innovative thinking and design.
YTD: How do you think the advancements in technology today change the way people judge what’s creative and what’s not?
PETE: Whether we like it or not, we have become a consumer-focused society. As technology advances, you run into the danger of designers simply creating “knock-offs” of what someone else has done – just so they can enter that market and be profitable. That’s not to say we shouldn’t have competition to make things better, but we can become myopic when we view technology only as a cure for a bad fiscal period. I think creatives “create” better “creations” when there is a sense of purpose behind what they’re doing, something beyond the balance sheet.
Additionally, technology has the potential to facilitate or frustrate the creative eye, depending on who is making it available to the creative. I think technology works the best when it is in service of the creative and not the other way around.
YTD: Speaking on technology, what are the importance of networking and showing off your creative work online as early as possible?
PETE: I believe the answer to your question is that it has afforded the creative an opportunity, plain and simple. The online environment has provided the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues, friends and fellow creatives around the world. It has afforded us the opportunity to share, announce, display or request feedback for our work. It has given us a huge opportunity to develop our brand and market our skills for careers that we would never have discovered previously.
YTD: Behance is one of the most popular online communities for creatives. It is a great avenue for creative professionals to showcase their work. But how does the platform benefit the students and starting designers?
PETE: I think the answer to that is found partly in my response to the previous question. Students and starting designers need an opportunity and a platform for collaboration and feedback. They need a resource to inspire them as they encounter what other artists are creating. They also need to hear from other artists, so their creative universe gets smaller and is not so intimidating.
As an educator, I’m always trying to build a sense of community in my courses. I also encourage students to continue building that community beyond the classroom. Behance acts as a place for them to continue that meaningful creative community outside class.
YTD: Who is your design hero?
PETE: While I have a few design heroes, I would have to say that Jonathan Ive is at the top of that list. His solutions for software and how we interact with our devices have done more for people around the world than we sometimes realize. When you consider the smartphone and tablet markets alone, and what these devices have done to make people’s lives better throughout the world, it is truly astounding.
YTD: For you, what is the importance of collaboration in the success of every creative project?
PETE: I need my fellow creatives at work. They have my back and they are a third, fourth and fifth pair of eyes. They are the missing brush stroke or better font for a project. They are my perspective when I’m too close to my work. They make up for me where I lack. They are my cheerleaders when I’ve “nailed it!” They make my work better than if I went it alone. They greatly increase the margin of success for my work.
YTD: Enumerate 3 lessons in creativity that you have learned throughout your career.
PETE: - Everything I do communicates (positively or negatively). Whether it’s shaking a hand, listening to someone, finishing a project on time or not on time, everything I do communicates something to people around me.
- I will never stop learning in my attempts to be creative. There are always new approaches, technologies and opportunities to grow and I don’t ever want to become unreachable by them.
- Belonging to a creative community will never fail to develop me as a creative person, artist, instructor and student. I am not a creative island.
How do you find Pete’s insights on creativity and learning? Tell us your thoughts and suggestions by commenting below.
Stay awesome everyone!