My career in academia began in 2003 as a member of the part-time faculty at both Montserrat College of Art and Rhode Island School of Design. For over a decade I have endeavored to create a classroom environment that is engaging, enriching, and challenging. In 2013 I became an Asst. Professor at Montserrat College of Art. In my first year as a professor at Montserrat, I was selected by the Class of 2014 to give the Faculty Address at their commencement.
In 2018 I made the decision to leave my position as a Senior Critic at Rhode Island School of Design after 15 years of being one of the most sought-after teachers at the college. In my final semester at RISD, my course had the highest waitlist in the Illustration Department.
A RISD student had this to say in one of my recent Faculty Evaluations:
“In the school's current identity-driven, narcissistic, codependent, and frankly quasi-hysterical environment, Professor Enjeti is a beacon of sanity and the only faculty member on this campus who seems to know how to shut everyone up, sit their asses down and make them listen. Every time I went into his class I knew I could count on him to not be a racist or bigot (TO ANYONE), and I knew people in the class wouldn't be rewarded for being racists or bigots. Best class environment ever. He also knows his art sh*t. Professor Enjeti is one in a million. Know that.”
Professor Enjeti • Opaque Watercolors and Gouache from Professor Enjeti on Vimeo.
My interest after 15 years as a visual arts educator is to work in academic environments where I am able to teach students the skills, craft, and knowledge that are needed to create exceptional work. I have no interest in an academic environment that eschews teaching basic competencies in favor of advocating that students take pride in banal work, develop indulgent personal narratives and capitulate to a narrow ideological worldview.
In the 1970’s, Saul Bass, the artist who created the title sequences for Alfred Hitchcock masterpieces like “Psycho,” “Vertigo,” and “North by Northwest, and who created some of the most iconic and seemingly minimalist logos of all time, including AT&T and United Airlines had this to say:
A FEW WORDS FROM THREE FORMER STUDENTS
JENNIFER HOM, RISD '09 Illustrator/Doodler
"I repeatedly enrolled in Shanth's courses for several reasons: he focused a great deal on the importance of using historic cultural references to solve contemporary design problems and he explained how to communicate meaning through the use of basic shapes. Most importantly, however, Shanth nurtures the development of a crucial aspect of any artist's career-- professionalism. Shanth made it clear that talent alone is not enough to succeed. One must present her/his work in a well designed/choreographed portfolio and have the ability to speak clearly and confidently about their work."
CAMERON DAVIS, RISD '05 Concept Artist
"Shanth approaches life and teaching with a passion that always inspired me as a student, and still does today as a friend. When I took his character design class my senior year, he discussed metaphor, history, philosophy and mythology and in the process I learned a great deal about myself, and the common themes of the human experience."
"This basic idea (Mythophoric Character Design) was first brought to my attention by a teacher I had in school named Shanth Enjeti, He goes into depth...really goes into depth and you should look him up. He talks about basic shapes and what they mean to humanity."
-Cameron Davis excerpt from GNOMON WORKSHOP CHARACTER DESIGN FOR GAMES AND ANIMATION VOLUME 1
BETH ZAIKEN, RISD '08 Fabricator/Muralist/Digital Production Engineer
Blue Rhino Studio
Blue Rhino Studio
My focus as a teacher is to create a studio environment wherein I maximize the possibility for ALL of my students’ work to improve. I present my assignments to address the common deficiencies that impair a student's ability to create competent work. The goal is always to train students to be capable of producing work that demonstrates the level of skill that will allow them to pursue a career.
In giving homework assignments, I always strive to give clear guidelines, present detailed assignment sheets, present visual reference and allow for questions if any of these are unclear.
ASSESSING TECHNICAL APTITUDE
In two-dimensional work, I break down the assessment of technique into four categories: composition, value, hue, and draftsmanship. These categories are organized in order of importance, and in picture making assignments students are asked to critique their fellow classmates using these categories and assessing how successful they are on a scale of 1-10. The goal is always to improve students who are lacking in technical capacity, and the most important aspect in doing so is identifying the degree of the problem in relationship to professional level of competency. Professional level competency, is measured by the number “6” and this, conveys to the students that they need to compare their work to master artists rather than their classmates.
ASSESSING CLARITY OF COMMUNICATION
In order to accurately chart a students growth, the students are required to address specific problems that increase in complexity as the semester progresses. Art directors and industry professionals judge art on how well it solves the problems they need an artist to address. These professionals spend mere minutes and even seconds when determining whether an artists' portfolio meets their needs. Student work needs to be clear and resolved. Stylistic fashion has a 10 year shelflife, and that is only if you "make it." A clear and responsible communicator with technical proficiency will always be in demand.
Students are frequently presented with examples from a diverse group of artists. These have included N.C. Wyeth, Eiko Ishioka, Mary Blair, Stanley Kubrick, Hayao Miyazaki, Akira Kurosawa, Ron Mueck, Kara Walker, Julie Taymor, Howard Pyle, Frank Lloyd Wright, Saul Bass, Santiago Calatrava, Norman Rockwell, Hergé, Maxfield Parrish, Osamu Tezuka, Hokusai, Eyvind Earle, J.C. Leyendecker, Syd Mead, Jean Giraud, Gustav Doré, John Singer Sargent, and Windsor McCay.
A successful student is a student that progresses substantially over the semester, participates in critiques, and is always on time with completed assignments. Examples of these former students have gone on to become members in art departments at Google, Dreamworks Animation, Lucasfilm Ltd., Microsoft Games, Harmonix Music Systems, and the Walt Disney Company. Others have gone on to win awards for their exceptional work in my classes in both student and professional competitions.
While these accomplishments are affirming for me as a teacher, it is the sense of accomplishment I feel when industry professionals describe former students as skilled, considerate, responsible and hardworking adults that inspires me. That is what success is defined as in a student and a professional.
All of the artwork shown below was created by the artists during their time as students (click on images to enlarge).
COMIC ILLUSTRATION • by Nicholas Kole • RISD
CONCEPT PAINTING • by Jack Truong • MONTSERRAT
CONCEPT PAINTING • by Jennifer Hom • RISD
GOUACHE PAINTING • by Hannah Connolly • MONTSERRAT
ACRYLIC PAINTING • by Fabiola Garza • RISD
DIGITAL ILLUSTRATION • by Gloria Dilanni • MONTSERRAT
CUT PAPER ILLUSTRATION • by Young Jin Chung • RISD
FOOD ILLUSTRATION • by Zö Pezzano • MONTSERRAT
OIL PAINTING • by Rob Rey • RISD
DIGITAL ILLUSTRATION • by Lisa Martinez • MONTSERRAT
ACRYLIC PAINTING • by Beth Zaiken • RISD
GOUACHE ILLUSTRATION • by Ciaran Gaffney • MONTSERRAT
CHARACTER DESIGN • by Anne Szabla • RISD
ILLUSTRATION • by Brendan MacAllister • MONTSERRAT
COMIC ILLUSTRATION • by Claire Hummel • RISD
ILLUSTRATION • by Lauren Carozza • MONTSERRAT
GOUACHE ON BOARD • by Kevin Laughlin • RISD
DIGITAL ILLUSTRATION • by Johnny Good • MONTSERRAT
Tell Forward is an educational web log Shanth maintains for those interested in learning about his approach to visual storytelling. You can visit the site by clicking HERE.