Quick, ugly, sketches make beautiful, timeless, designs.

Dave Martinez

Design what you imagine, not what you know.

Dave Martinez



I’m an advocate for visual literacy in the earliest courses of study. I believe an understanding of the basic principles of 2D design will result in student success in their upper division courses. Once they grasp these skills they have a better chance of critiquing work and acquire knowledge of what works and what needs improvement. Students learn early that the principles of design are inclusive to photography, drawing, painting, and typography. Being able to make decisions that require subtle nuances between color, depth, proximity, scale, etc. are important in posters, ads, and web sites.


I also believe in the use for studio time before students refine work in the computer lab. Having students work on paper without the use of the Internet creates an environment for independent exploration. Their initial process of analyzing, thinking and planning is influenced by their own ability to conceptualize. From there, students are required to search beyond their earliest concepts to make further connections for more meaningful themes of exploration. I find ways to challenge my students throughout the entire process.


History is an effective creative tool to witness design whether its architecture, packaging, or environmental design. These art forms push boundaries and inspire students with possibilities. I utilize my History of Graphic Design course as a way for students to open their imaginations and learn the potential of design. We continue to live in a time with social conditions rich for students to engage and solve problems. As an example, students created campaigns on immigration in this country. Most of our students live on either side of the Rio Grande Border and this topic hits home with them. They were required to hold a debate on campus to engage the community and create an effective print and online media campaign.


In my mind, design education encourages intellectual thinking as a life long endeavor. Students need to be supported in an environment that promotes high expectations and endorses critical thinking. My goal is for students to understand that design is a commitment to thoroughly crafted ideas. That is why I believe the development of a concept is only half the reward to a successful project, but discovering further connections is an effort that separates ideas from thinking. My philosophy includes a commitment to self-engaged thinking, and that learning continues long after graduation. Thinking is matured with reading, research and course objectives that seek various engagements of thought. I appreciate students who comment that I require them to think. To me, this serves to empower them as I guide their work through the creative process.


Please visit my complete portfolio:


Dave Martinez


To pay homage to faculty that influenced me, I placed their business cards over my office door as a reminder of their support each time I entered the office. Since then, some have passed from this life but they will inspire those of us who were lucky to have them in our lives.



Virginia Commonwealth University



Virginia Commonwealth University



Virginia Commonwealth University



Virginia Commonwealth University



Virginia Commonwealth University



The School of the Art Institute of Chicago



The School of the Art Institute of Chicago



The School of the Art Institute of Chicago



The School of the Art Institute of Chicago



Washtenaw Community College



These are a sample of books and posters I've collected over a period of 25 years. I use them as tools for my courses.


Ever since taking my first History of Graphic Design course in 1993, I was fascinated how art and design trends complimented one another, whether it's graphic design, typography, architecture, fine art, or product design. I was hooked and began to find examples I have since integrated into my class. These are a few examples from my library that now number in the thousands.


Hardie Caudle Building, Chattanooga TN. Love that typography during the Art Deco era.


Private Residence (International Syle) Atlanta GA. Exotic simplicity at it's best.


North Avenue Beach House, Chicago IL. Leisure and escapism for the masses. A celebration of Capitalism and the good times.


You're Typographers not Typists.

Dave Martinez



I always thought a professor should be able to write their own assignments as they would with their own research. Doing both for me was an indication a person has a real head for academia.

I have no problem with faculty who do the same assignments they did as students, especially if you came from a great program with smart faculty.


Here are a few samples of projects I've written and utilized as assignments.


Kinetic Study. 10 min exercise. Beginning typography students utilize space and letters to create a composition. Research-Armin Hofmann

Barbara Steele. Students create a film festival poster featuring the work of cult star Barbara Steele. Understanding the genre of her films and utilizing type, line and shape, students must create the appropriate mood without using pictures.




Thumbnails required.


Mall Packaging. My uncle was a sign designer and was my earliest influence to become a designer. I had this idea for students to select a mall in their community and give it a make over. This included the logo, vehicle application, way finding, and what I call the environmental plan. Students took many photographs and we worked on drawings, materials for modeling and renderings done in Illustrator.


Logo color comps.

Way finding sketches

Environmental Plan

Mall Illustration


Collaborative Maps, sophomore level.

As a collaborative assignment that examines non-verbal communication, I devised a project utilizing city maps. Students selected landmarks in their city and devised a set of instructions to each landmark. Students from collaborative classes would follow the non-verbal instructions on a map and see how successful the instructions were.


In this example, from the school by car, drive on Peachtree. Make a right on Baker St. turn left on Lucky St. At the light take a right on Techwood and arrive at CNN.



Finally, students select the appropriate chart or graph for charting their landmark. This allowed students form different parts of the country witness the world of other students. Students in the North had no knowledge of a segregated cemetery like this example from a student in Atlanta.

Space Preservation, junior level.

This collaborative assignment examines semiotics as a theory for communication. Some years ago, semiotics was a big interest in academia and I applied the study to preservation as a way to share environments between the collaborative classes.




STEP 1. Each student photographs a site to preserve. About 50 were placed on the board for selection.


STEP 2. Each class photographed "concepts of space" and exchanged them with each collaborative class. Students selected an image from the exchange and interpreted in typographically in a way that supports their argument.


STEP 3. Students created a poster of the selected site with the additional Concept image from the distance class.


Step 2. Interpret these images. Multi directional sign in the form of a question mark provides interesting meanings.

And arrow splitting in separate directions suggests choice.


Step 3. Student created preservation poster of his site selection, the Tennessee River with the endangered plant, Ruth's Golden Aster. The concept image chosen from the distance class is the individual jumping which suggests the carefree attitudes people have for preserving these spaces.


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