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, entertaining, and challenging. In 2013 I became an Asst. Professor at Montserrat College of Art and in 2018 I left my position as a Senior Critic at Rhode Island School of Design after 15 years. My decade plus as a visual arts educator has strengthened my belief that a student's concepts and "personal vision" are meaningless without the technical facility to manifest them, and that helping students find their "style" is not about exalting a feeble pursuit of learning the fundamentals.
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 capacity for all of my students’ work to improve. I present my assignments in a fashion that addresses the diversity of ability and learning styles in a classroom, as well as presenting problems that allow for a diverse range of solutions.
In giving homework assignments, I always strive to give clear guidelines, present detailed assignment sheets which I read aloud, present visual reference, and allow for questions if any of these are unclear. This maximizes a student’s capacity to succeed and compensates for the presence of different methods of processing information. The same approach is useful in addressing the different modalities of learning that exist in any given classroom.
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 CONCEPTUAL CLARITY
The most important area of the critique is the discussion of whether or not the work communicates the idea the artist intended. In order to accurately chart a students growth, the students are required to address specific problems that increase in complexity as the semester progresses.
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, 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 inspiring for me as a teacher, it is the sense of accomplishment I feel when I see the excitement in students who have learned something new about themselves and their work that will guide their pursuits in new and exciting directions in the future.
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.