In Joseph Wallace’s six years at Salem High School as a graphic design art teacher, the fine arts department has upgraded to the digital age under his hand, and as of September 8, he’s passed the torch along to his son, David Wallace.
“I knew I was ready to retire and I thought, you know, I don’t want anything to happen to this program that we’ve worked so hard to build up,” said Joseph.
All three of the graphics classes SHS offers are dual-enrollment with Virginia Western Community College, and an increasing number of graduates from his graphics design classes are going on to local colleges and universities with a head start on their Fine Arts degree. For example, two Spartan alumni, Katie Rotanz and Kacy Dillon, used the cover art they created for the high school’s registration guide as part of their portfolio.
While the Wallace’s three sons were growing up, the family lived in Michigan, where Joseph was a high school art and yearbook teacher. Since the advent of computers, he’s tried to incorporate them into his art world – he was the first teacher-pioneer in his school system to have a Macintosh in the classroom. But his yearbook students still knew the literal meaning of “cut and paste.”
“When the computers came in that opened up a lot of different possibilities … these days the possibilities are endless,” David said. He and his two brothers, Joe and Steve, ended up in their dad’s classroom, because their school system only had one high school.
David went on to the Savannah College of Art and Design to earn a double-major in graphic design and fiber arts. His dad fully understands the combination.
“One thing about computers: you still need to be an artist, to think like an artist,” said Joseph. And David plans on emphasizing that in his classes this year.
David is working at the school half-time alongside his career as a graphic designer. This semester will complete his teaching degree from Radford University’s Career Switcher program. From January to June, he worked full time while taking the intensive course.
Right now, the students in the graphics design courses are trained heavily in Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustration. They complete real advertising and projects for Salem City Schools, like agenda book covers, posters, packaging, and even some advertising materials – some projects that a contracted graphic designer might charge thousands of dollars for. Those projects also provide real world experience and heavy portfolio materials to start higher education and a career in the real world.
And David hopes to continue growing the program: “I’m looking at what’s around the corner, what’s in the future for arts technology,” he said. Advanced students have already started creating 3D renderings for their designs for packaging material, but David wants to expand into 3D animation, packaging animation, and projects that would be a realistic product shot in a magazine.
For more information about the Salem Fine Arts Department, go to their website (which is maintained mostly by the graphic arts classes) at: www.salem.k12.va.us/shs/art/index.html