Visiting Assistant Professor of Art
At Knox Since: 2011
Major: Studio Art and Visual Cultural Theory
For almost two decades, Tim Stedman was the sought-after, Grammy-
nominated art director who created CD artwork for musical talents as diverse
as Roy Orbison and Blink 182. But the vice president/creative director of MCA Records walked away from big paychecks and hobnobbing with celebrities and onto the campus of Knox College in 2005 to take his life, and career, in a completely new direction. "It was about educating myself. I feel like I have earned the opportunity to come back and do this."
While a long way from Los Angeles, Stedman still does freelance work for some of his former clients, including long-time collaborator and good friend, Lyle Lovett, "Throughout my career, I have been fortunate to work with talented people," says Lovett, who has won Four Grammy awards. "[Stedman] is accomplished, well respected and established in the industry. I have to admire that he would leave a very good job and go back to school for his own personal growth. That says a lot."
CD cover designed by Tim Stedman '09
For the last eight years of his career in California, as record company desperation over the explosion of illegal music downloading fed Stedman's growing disillusionment with his chosen profession, he took solace in the classroom as an adjunct professor at Otis College of Art and Design and the Art Center College of Design. "I liked teaching, but to do it full time, I really needed the degrees that go with that -- but I also wanted the education."
Stedman began his college search process and decided a liberal arts college would best meet his needs. His mother, who had relocated back to West Central Illinois, mentioned Knox. When he visited campus, he found that it had all the qualities he wanted in a school.
Even as a non-traditional student, Stedman found himself quickly embraced by the Knox community. He enjoyed his anthropology, art history, and psychology classes. "But, of course, I gravitated to the Center for Fine Arts and the studio art program," says Stedman. "Painting was a real focus while I was here, as well as filmmaking and photography. All of these elements were incorporated into my senior show."
He double majored in studio art and a self-designed major in visual cultural theory. "It's really a very contemporary angle on art history, which was well suited to my life experience. It was an academic study of what I had been working in."
After graduating in 2009, Stedman received his MFA in graphic design from the University of Illinois at Chicago and is now back at Knox as a visiting assistant professor of art. "I think the combination of my professional background, the coursework I've taken, and my studio experience puts me in a unique position as a professor. I have a broader perspective. I'll certainly have a lot of interesting stories to share with my students."