Much like the tenure process, periodic sabbaticals are a great moment to take stock of one’s practice. 2021 was my third sabbatical at SAIC, and each one has captured a radically different phase of my life and career. Sabbaticals represent the ultimate freedom of a tenured faculty member to move a practice around at will. Graphic designers tend to have a myopic or categorical view of their profession, its subsets and its boundaries—one is in it or one is not in it—and I think this contributes to designers feeling stuck or resigned to a path. Practitioners and educators are expected to teach and practice from a position of deep and somewhat siloed expertise, a deep path—which seems reasonable. However, to make the creative act strange again—but to do so in a strategic and informed way—this is another facet of our expertise, our creativity, our connoisseurship, and it can be incredibly helpful and honest—and sometimes absolutely necessary— to unapologetically reinvent our methods to rediscover ourselves. Sabbaticals are the perfect space for this.
-Stephen Farrell, Associate Professor, Visual Communication Design