Valedictorian Roy Tatum Shares with Graduation Crowd Lessons He Learned at Art Center

by August 24th, 2012

Valedictorian Roy Tatum addresses the Summer 2012 graduation crowd.

At last Saturday’s Summer 2012 graduation, Graphic Design graduate and Art Center valedictorian Roy Tatum shared with the assembled crowd some lessons about life, learning and the design process that he picked up while at the College.

Here are a few highlights.

On his high school aspirations:

While everyone I went to high school was making plans for college, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to attend [college]. I hadn’t found something I was passionate enough about to devote a significant amount of time.

On something a fellow musician told him:

I had just finished playing a show and I was talking to the drummer of the band that had played after us. He had gone to an art and design school in Los Angeles and he told me about his experience and I thought, That doesn’t even sound like school. That just sounds awesome.

On Art Center’s Public Programs:

Like many of you, I started by attending Art Center at Night. I remember being so excited and eager to learn from the teacher during the first night of class. I came home and thought to myself, This is what I love, this is what I’m passionate about. I was so excited I couldn’t wait to apply to the day program.

On starting in Art Center’s degree program:

The very first days of orientation and class were simultaneously intimidating and inspiring. Honestly, I felt a little anxious and afraid. But the quality of the work and the dedication my peers had to their craft created such a good environment. So it was a healthy anxiety and fear. It was motivating.

On finding his place:

Like some of you, I never really fit in anywhere, but I felt like I belonged here. I was part of this thing that I couldn’t explain but knew it was unusual and exceptional.

On reaching out to his colleagues:

I didn’t initially connect with other students. I told myself I needed to focus on my projects. I was intimidated by other students and what it would be like to hang out with them. But after I opened up, I started to realize that I was missing out on one of the best parts of Art Center—the community.

On Art Center’s community:

The students here, friends and classmates in the crowd, have really made this experience significant and memorable. And it was through these relationships with my classmates and instructors that I started to feel even more connected to the school and my work. The students here thrive on these connections with each other.

Art Center has been about:

Art Center has been about being surrounded by students and teachers who are genuinely interested in your growth as a designer, an artist and a person.

It’s been about not being cynical or negative and trusting that if you invest enough time into what you’re working on that it will pay off in the end.

Art Center has been about learning that the design process isn’t a straight line. Sometimes the work is frustrating and hard, but it’s ultimately rewarding.

It’s been about sometimes thinking to ourselves, Is this what I should be doing? Do I even belong here? But realizing after 14 weeks that we are exactly where we’re supposed to be.

Art Center has been about finding out that what we once saw as disparate and discrete majors actually have a lot of similarities and crossovers, and frequently finding ourselves borrowing from other disciplines within our own work.

Lessons learned:

We learned to have confidence in ourselves when working alone, but also how to be great collaborators and how to be teachers. We’ve learned how to be poised and controlled, even when we are facing a critique that is rough, because we know it’s an opportunity to learn and grow.

We’ve learned that art and design is something we love to do, and now we get to do it for the rest of our lives. We’ve poured ourselves into our work, doing something that may be hard to explain to anybody outside of these walls, that we now get to share with everyone.

For more insight from recent Art Center graduates, check out what Product Design student Jenn Kuca’s told the crowd after receiving the Summer 2012 Student Leadership Award.

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One Response to “Valedictorian Roy Tatum Shares with Graduation Crowd Lessons He Learned at Art Center”

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