Discovering the Benefits of (Online) Art School

by Tyler Drake | October 4, 2017
Shaun Edwards
Sylvan Lake, MI
Undergraduate Certificate in Graphic Design

Freelance designer Shaun Edwards enrolled at Sessions College to further his education and deepen his skills. Initially skeptical about online classes, Shaun has been won over by the combination of expert feedback and flexibility offered by a fully online environment. He’s turning heads with his work too, showing that his early days as a motor city graffiti artist did not go to waste! We asked Shaun to talk about his program. 

Describe your journey into design. What inspired you to make art for a living?

I was always an imaginative and creative kid growing up. I was always drawing and trying to make my own comic books or doodles to hang on the fridge. My uncle owned a real estate company and showed me how to create simple brochures and mail ads, this is where I really got into design and the idea of making it a career. I downloaded Photoshop and was glued to it every day creating images and learning the software. Throughout middle school and high school I was very into graffiti and tattoos and would hang out at tattoo shops and go venture into the rough warzone of Detroit to (basically) be a vandal, but I thought I was being creative and expressing myself while also making an ugly place have some sort of beauty to it.

When I was a freshman, my high school started a Graphic Design class and the teacher there really pushed me to look at art schools for college. At this time I was already self-taught in web design and graphic design. Prior to going to my first art school I was already building a client base and selling my services to people around the world. Some of those designs made it into big chain stores in the US and Australia. I didn’t feel challenged enough when I was in my first round of school back in 2006 and it made me lazy and I began to lose the passion I’d once had. After dropping out due to a bad experience with that school I decided to start my own business as a freelancer. Wanting to have the security and more opportunity in the future, I enrolled at Sessions College, which I had heard about during my time as a NAPP member both at seminars and in magazines. Now here I am, busy as ever with my business and very excited to be moving forward with Sessions.

Why did you choose an online program at Sessions College?

I think the biggest thing, for me, is the ability to be flexible in the battle between work, life, and education. Being able to maintain my current work schedule and attend classes without having to make changes to either is perfect for me. There is no need to feel that I cannot further my career and fulfill my dreams because classes are only available during days/times that I am at my job. This was the original idea that drew me to Sessions in the first place. I was hesitant – at first – with the whole concept of attending an online art school. The initial thought was that it would be impossible. How would I submit my work? How would I get any feedback from my professor and classmates? How can art be taught without a face to face and hands-on approach?

Well, I am here to say that Sessions is proof that all of this is possible. Having all of the coursework laid out from the beginning of the semester allows you to see what each assignment is and will consist of. This gives you a head start for each project to contact your professor if you are confused about any of the lessons or take the time to research the concepts, skills, and project details that you may not understand or feel you need to get a better practice in PRIOR to the week that assignment is due. In summary, Sessions allows you to be flexible in all areas of your life and still reach your educational goals and requirements without interrupting the daily routine. This is the biggest benefit to me.

Outside of Sessions, what do you like to do? What are your outside passions or interests?

I am a creative person and keep my mind focused on design and art in general. I create and perform music in my local region. I attend local concerts and art events. I study other artists and try to understand how they think and create. I run my own studio and research business concepts and skills to keep me going and ahead of the game. I am also really into putting on a movie, hanging out with the dog and eventually taking a nap (sleep is the best thing ever invented, haha).

What are your professional goals after graduation?

I want to be a leader in my area when it comes to design. However, my ultimate goal is to have the knowledge, background, and experience to further my own design business or have these same qualities to ensure a long and fruitful career at a respected agency.

To learn more about online Graphic Design programs at Sessions College, visit our Undergraduate Certificate or Associate Degree pages and talk to an Admissions advisor. 

Tyler Drake is the Senior Director of Student Services at Sessions College. Tyler earned a Masters Degree in Sports Leadership at Concordia University Chicago. He is passionate about sports, movies, music, family, and the benefits of a quality education.