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Vickie R. Phipps

Vickie R. Phipps

Associate Professor of Art and Graphic Design

I am in love with graphic design and if that sounds personal, it is because it is. Through my design experiences inside and outside the classroom, I have came to an understanding of visual literacy as a vital skillset which can foster self–determination and autonomous participation in the cultural sphere.

I see art and design as not only a desirable mode of community engagement but a human propensity that when cultivated results in a dynamic engagement with our environment.

Instantaneous communication and real-time processing of data have altered concepts of sharing and authorship, creating fundamental shifts in how we experience time, space and relationships. How will the academy develop cannons of knowledge that are relevant in a decentralized world of complex generative systems?

More importantly, how do we understand the impact of our lives and actions in the context of this world? What do we teach when the rate of technological advancements make it abundantly clear that no one knows what tools will exist in five years?

As an educator, I work alongside student designers to explore our environment through a graphic design lens. An introduction to graphic design cultivates active looking. By learning to unpack information and engage with unfamiliar content, graphic designers develop skills of interpretation.

As student designers develop their individual processes of working, they become more comfortable with their own ability to leverage basic design principles as well as generate original concepts.

I feel that it is imperative that graphic design studies not be confined to the vacuum of a studio but include engagement with the larger community. Design research conducted within robust settings enable individuals to discover self at the same time they explore design theory.

My work and teaching philosophy are informed by an openness which places an emphasis on questions as content. I am more interested in what you are curious about and hungry for than in what you have memorized or hold as fixed belief systems. I see questions not as a means to an answer but an inherent source of inspiration for mark making and living. 

I am not an instructor who seeks to instill knowledge of good and bad design in students. After demonstrating basic proficient with traditional concepts, I invite student designers into a direct investigation of the assumptions those principles stand upon. 

What does it mean to practice graphic design? I believe that all humans are designers and the concerns and ideas shaping the field of design in this contemporary moment are related to all fields of human research and activity. 

In my design classroom, I challenge students to know history and technique while questioning the kind of designer/ person they are now and want to become.

Specializations: Art, Graphic design, Video production, Typography, Digital media, Social media


  • B.F.A., Emory & Henry College
  • M.F.A., University of Tennessee