Art teachers are maybe not the most high-profile members of the teaching team in a school. But perhaps more than most subject areas they are called on for extra input and support. In fact, I often ponder the irony of teaching a subject area where pupils and parents often make the observation that there is no work to be found in choosing to study art, whilst I seem to be continually busy with my employer making full use of me (a fine art graduate) to carry out any number of creative tasks. There clearly seems to be plenty of call for creative input and practical skills where I am!
I know I’m not stating anything new to most arts teachers. We are requested to do so many tasks outside of the normal classroom activities. There might be scenery needed for the school play, a poster for a party, a logo for a club, decoration or artworks needed for an empty corridor, an exhibition of pupils’ work to be organised for PR purposes, a design for a t-shirt or maybe critical input on the school’s prospectus or website. I could go own, but I’m sure that you get the picture.
At my own school, amongst other things, I seem to have become the second line of graphic design. We have an external bureau that designs material for us, but I am regularly asked to contribute with a poster, a flyer or animation film. All areas I have no specialist training in but am interested to try my hand and have, over the years put in the hours learning to use the necessary software.
As with all design tasks, it always seems to take a lot longer than I expect to get to the final finished result, and a lot lot longer than most other people seem to think the process of design can take. So why do it? Well, I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I enjoy the process and the challenge. I’m not sure that I could design in this way full time, but the occasional work on the side is both interesting and satisfying when designs reach their final form.
A case in point are the five display boards that show our school history (it is our 75th anniversary). I have put these together in collaboration with a colleague from the history department. They are a combination of an interesting text, fascinating historical photographs and, even if I say it myself, some nice design work. This time the finished product is going to stand outside of school for the next year, which is considerably longer than most other similar projects seem to last in the public eye!