Alumni Update: Interview with Erin Buckland
Erin Graduated in 2009 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art Education in 2D Studies with a focus in Graphic Design. She is currently a Middle School Art Teacher at Harford County Public Schools in Bel Air, MD and has been there since 2009. Her classroom Instagram is @Art_w_mrsB and her website is https://pmms.ss18.sharpschool.com.
Why did you choose BGSU to study design?
I wasn’t 100% sure what I really wanted to major in when I began my college search. I was adamant that I wouldn’t become a teacher. I wanted to do something art or science based. Graphic Design was appealing. I chose BG for how well the whole school fit me. The design program seemed robust – it was truly its own major. Other schools offered various VCT degrees, but I wanted a program that was fine arts focused.
What advice would you give for students currently in the program?
Always overestimate how long a project will take you.
What grades do you teach? and what do you enjoy most of teaching the kids you have?
I have taught K-12. I am currently teaching middle school (6-8). I really enjoy this age. Middle school students are really starting to figure out who they are as people…and as artists. While middle school can be a pretty confusing time for students, I can help give them a mode of expression or an avenue for success. Students do not have to take visual arts in High School (just an “Arts” of some type). For some, this will be the last time they take visual art classes. I want them to have fun while refining their fine motor skills and picking up some understanding of theory. For some, I may be the tipping point of weather or not they choose to take Art in High School. I want to make Art Class a positive experience wether or not art ends up bing their passion.
How is your design experience influential to your teaching career?
I feel that studying graphic design gave me a better understanding of how to use technology as a tool in the classroom. In the fine Arts, it quite easy to pass over technology in favor of traditional media. While learning how to work with traditional media is imperative to a well rounded arts education, incorporating technology can be very beneficial. My graduate degree is in Instructional Media. I chose this in part because of how comfortable I felt using technology already in my classroom after having used it constantly in my design classes.
Through my graphic design classes at BG, I found that I really loved typography. Lettering/Typography is not something you see pushed in many curriculums. Each grade uses typography in at least one project.
Do you incorporate elements of design in your projects with your students? If so, how? (because I feel design is not very well known in grade school)
YES. I focus on the Elements of Art [Elements of Design] (Color, Line, Shape, Space, Form, Texture, Value) in 6th grade. The Elements of Art are an important part of the curriculum in Elementary School. In 7th grade I begin to introduce the Principles of Design (Balance, Emphasis, Pattern, Unity, Rhythm, Contrast, Movement). In 8th grade, students continue to develop their understandings of the principles. I try to help them understand how to apply these to composition. Understanding how to create an interesting composition (starting to lean more towards C.R.A.P.) can be a bit of a challenge at this age.
How long have you been teaching?
This is my 10th year in the classroom.
Do you have any advice for current students that are graduating soon from the program on how to prepare for job/internship searching? (like where to look, how to find what they want in a job, or portfolio prep)
I’m not terribly experienced in job searching in graphic design specifically. My best tip would be to have resumés and business cards ready to go at any time! Make sure your personal website and any employment programs (LinkedIn, etc) are updated. For education, visiting county and school websites is the best place to get started. Most all school applications are completed on line. I once you have started the application process, check in with the county to make sure everything is good to go. Also, reach out to individual principles to let them know that the county has your resume and that you are interested in the vacancy they have. Principles and admins may see stacks and stacks of resumes; make sure yours stands out and that they are already looking for your name.
Interviewed by Brigette Holsapple