Scholar and Artist Named One of Graphic Design USA Magazine’s “Educators to Watch”

By Tom McLaughlin

For his exemplary efforts leading the next generation of talented artists and designers, Allan Espiritu, an associate professor of fine arts at Rutgers University–Camden, has been named as one of the “Educators to Watch” by Graphic Design USA magazine.

“I’m truly honored by this distinction; they have some great teachers on this list,” says the Philadelphia resident, who was recently named a fellow by the Philadelphia chapter of AIGA, the professional association for design.

Espiritu, a 1993 graduate of Rutgers–Camden with a bachelor’s degree in graphic design, now heads the graphic design program at his alma mater. Reflecting on his role as a teacher, he says that his students have always informed his art and design. Observing them, and conversing and learning with them, he says, continually influences his perspective on the world and on art.

“It’s a symbiotic relationship; I inspire them and they inspire me,” he says. “Students challenge, develop, inform, and ignite my perspective.”

Joe Schiavo, associate dean for Faculty of Arts and Sciences undergraduate programs at Rutgers–Camden, notes that Espiritu’s recognition as a preeminent educator was long overdue.

“I have witnessed his teaching firsthand in awe – a truly deserving recognition,” he says.

More than simply imparting knowledge and skills, Espiritu hopes to serve as a role model for young artists and designers. It is paramount, he explains, that these budding artists understand that art and design is a discipline that can be studied at the university level and a profession to which they can aspire.

“Many nontraditional learners have found their careers in the arts,” says Espiritu, who also earned a master of fine arts degree in graphic design from Yale University School of Art. “It’s a message that I’m trying to get out to young students.”

Espiritu is also the founder of GDLOFT PHL, a small, collaborative design studio in Philadelphia made up of photographers, fine artists, students, and designers focused on design for educational, arts, cultural, and nonprofit institutions. The studio’s work has been acknowledged and published by a virtual who’s who of the leading graphic arts organizations and publications.

According to the Rutgers–Camden scholar and artist, he founded the Philadelphia design studio with the goal of it serving as a launching pad for student artists. Espiritu says that he wanted to give talented, hard-working, motivated students a place where they can develop outside traditional course work and provide them with precious experience that would set them apart from the hundreds of student designers that graduate every year and are competing for the same jobs.

“Any opportunity to get ahead of the competition is beneficial in our field,” says Espiritu. “I owe that to them, and I’ll work hard to get them to the top and to their full potential.”

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