My experience as a design student at the University Of Hartford, under Natacha’s instruction, provided me with numerous valuable experiences; far too many to recount in a single letter. Throughout my enrollment in the VCD program she demonstrated extreme technical proficiency when it came to design software, a vast understanding of design principles, numerous connections within the industry and the community, and a passion to see the world become a better place through thoughtful design. Natacha is an extremely multifaceted educator who knows how to use the tools and knowledge she has at her disposal. Although every class I took with her had it’s own set of unique experiences and lessons, the one constant thread was that I was always challenged. None of her classes were easy. Looking back I can say that she lived up to that tough and demanding reputation that I had once heard of, but more importantly, her style had the right intentions. In a world where complacency causes people to want to be graded on a curve, I feel that the tough-love approach that I was engaged with by Natacha was necessary, because it challenged any trace of mediocrity in me and ultimately brought out the best in her students.
After being in the workforce for two years, I’ve found that it is imperative for the modern designer to be able to think on their feet, be resourceful, well informed, technically proficient, humble and have thick skin. I am convinced that such qualities and values were instilled in me by all of the VCD faculty. Natacha played an instrumental role in my development as a designer, a professional, and as a global citizen. I proudly endorse her efforts and her passion to impact future generations through education. I am thankful to have been a part of her journey, while fully knowing that the best is yet to come.
It was with Professor Poggio that I first learned about typography, design basics and application, as well as how powerful design can be in shaping the world. Each and every one of Professor Poggio’s classes were not only new and exciting experiences, but they became a place in which I felt constant growth, motivation, and determination. So much so, that with the beginning of every semester, I sought out Professor Poggio’s classes to make sure I would secure a spot.
As a professor, Natacha is by no means easy. She will challenge your creativity, welcome criticism, and is not scared to tell you that something is wrong, or even to “start over”. However, without these qualities I would have never become the designer I am today. Natacha was able to balance this toughness with compassion and a sense of friendship that I had never before experienced with another teacher. She was not only my mentor, but my friend – not only someone I respected, but someone I could turn to. In fact, when struggling with deciding my major my junior year, it was to her I turned to talk about my dilemma. In all sincerity, it is because of this educational and heartfelt discussion, as well Professor Poggio’s inspirational classes that I decided to choose to move forward as a designer. It was also because of Natacha that I was able to end my junior and senior years as the top designer in my class.
During the course of my development an self-discovery as a designer, Prof. Poggio has always served as a mentor, and has given honest feedback —wether positive or negative— based on her real-world experience gained prior to teaching. Her straightforward teaching style has been a foundation that I built upon, preparing me to have a thicker skin and work to my full potential. I was prepared for graduation and my professional career where I have had to take critical feedback and realize that it is hard work that allows room for growth and promotion. Prof. Poggio has become a role model and will continue to be a mentor during the course of my professional career as a designer.
Natacha Poggio was a professor I have learned a great deal from as a student and illustration major at the Hartford Art School. She continues to be a valuable resource now that I am an alumna, directly working in a field influenced by the Design Global Change class I participated in 2011. Right after graduation and thanks to recommendations provided by Natacha, I have completed two years at AmeriCorps, working at Arts for All Inc. and all arts-based day program for children and adults with developmental disabilities based in Tucson, Arizona.
I’m now in the process of applying for grad school to programs that are MFA Social Practice-based. Since graduating I have really wanted to combine what I have been doing with nonprofit work, teaching and fuse it with art making and collaborative projects, and the programs I am applying to are all about that, which is really exciting. I feel like a lot of the things I was exposed to and learned through Design Global Change have really influenced and helped me figure out my career path. Through my experiences in her class and beyond with her advice and recommendations, I am furthering my career plan in working with art in a way that directly benefits and influences people.
There are many things that I have retained and still incorporate into my day-to-day life as graphic designer. Natacha Poggio was one of my more memorable professors who impacted me throughout school and have sustained a lasting impression upon me ever since. Natacha showed me that design truly is the most powerful form of communication. She taught me that design can actually change people lives. In fact, she showed me that design can change the world.
Instilling the thought of sustainability into my design process was a quality that I still use on a daily basis. When I design something, I try to ensure that whatever I am creating is well thought out from the beginning to the very end. I try to make the most positive impact on the viewer/receiver while leaving the least negative impact on the environment. Another great quality that I have retained from Natacha was the thought of usability and accessibility. Working at an agency that deals mainly with web-based clients, I have to fully understand the fundamentals of usable web design. For example, When designing a website, I’ve learned to mainly use HTML text instead of static text and to use proper image captions to ensure people with disabilities can still access content easily. It is very important to acknowledge guidelines such as these to ensure that you are reaching out to the entire audience.
During my Junior year at a time of particularly high stress and anxiety levels, Natacha sat down with me and talked me out of my slump. It was during this talk that the message finally became clear: she was not teaching us how to make a cool poster or a trendy type layout, she was teaching us to properly and accurately communicate. I feel that many of the students struggle with this underlying concept of the curriculum (regardless of it’s position in the name of the course study) and feel cheated when they aren’t taught specifically to produce the shiny examples of the newest (and inevitably fading) graphic trends that circulate throughout the design community. This does cause some backlash, however it is this concept that I feel makes our curriculum as a whole as successful as it is. By teaching us to effectively portray a message, Natacha prepares her students for a career in a market that is constantly in flux.