Studio Art and Creative Writing Double Major
After cultivating a background in art and creative writing at Knox,
Alex Robertson '11 has been putting his creativity to the test as a web
developer for Floodlight Design in Elgin, Illinois.
How did your Knox experience affect the course of your life?
My studies at Knox helped provide me with the critical skills that I feel will be vital to me for the rest of my life. Courses at Knox showed me that through constant investigation and questioning of the things we take for granted, new and surprising conclusions can be reached. My studies as a studio art major required me to become invested in understanding the aims of the avant-garde throughout history in order to continue to pursue experimental and innovative strategies.
I feel that ultimately these strategies of constantly challenging one's assumptions and methods will keep me on my toes and a perpetual student of the world around me.
How has your Knox experience made an impact on your career?
I ended up pursuing my career as a web developer primarily due to my experience as a student and post-baccalaureate student working in the Department of Art and Art History. I started to learn about web development and design while working as an assistant to Tony Gant. I developed a portfolio website for Tony and in the process taught myself the basic skills that would become the core of what I do today for a living. The loosely structured assistantship helped me get feedback on my work while having the freedom to investigate and learn the skills I needed at my own pace.
The following year as a post-baccalaureate, I started to learn about the fundamentals of graphic design while working with professor Tim Stedman. While I was already aware of and interested in the basic principles of visual design and structure thanks to my major in studio art, it was my work with Tim that helped cement these ideas. Together we designed the visual identity for the Department of Art and Art History used in publicity for artist talks, lectures, and art shows.
My capstone project as a post-baccalaureate was to design and develop a website for the Department of Art and Art History that could serve as both an engaging way to attract prospective students and as a place to advertise upcoming events to current students. Over the course of the year I worked on and refined my design for the site and developed the site during the spring term. The resulting site helped me feel confident in my ability to create a polished website from start to finish.
Describe a memorable experience or professor and the impact it had on you.
The most important experience I had while a student at Knox was the Open Studio course I took in the winter term of 2011. This course forms the capstone for the studio art major and involves a full-time pursuit of art making as an emulation of how a professional artist works. I spent an average of 40 hours a week working on art in my studio and it was this continued, intense period of making that led to many discoveries and personal break-throughs that inform my artistic practice today.
What surprised you about Knox?
The most surprising thing about Knox to me was the openness and availability of professors after becoming involved in a department. Professors were frequently available for discussion and help outside of the classroom when I sought them out. By the end of my time at Knox I felt like a colleague to many of my professors. I realized that professors often learn just as much from their students as they teach.