By, Abigail Bickel
Instructor: John Dinser
Subject: Photoshop graphics
Q: How long have you been teaching at WCC?
A: 25 years I think, since 1993.
Q: How did you come to teach at WCC?
A: I went to WCC right after high school, and then I transferred to the Kansas City Art Institute in Kansas City, Missouri. I graduated and came back to visit and popped in, and one of the instructors said, ‘hey, I’m going on sabbatical. Do you want to fill in for me next semester?’ And I said sure, and I’ve been here ever since. I was
subbing for what used to be my favorite class—I don’t think they teach it anymore. It was Airbrush. I’ve taught other stuff before, but in the last few years, it’s been Photoshop.
Q: What did you do before coming to WCC?
A: I was just a highschool student, and I went to WCC because I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I figured that was a good place to kinda see what was up. I kind of wanted to work at Hallmark. It kind of ended up that way because I went to Kansas City which is where Hallmark is. I interned at Hallmark for 5 months.
Q: What is the most satisfying part of your job at WCC?
A: The freedom to come up with projects, and no one is breathing down my neck about meetings or anything. I can basically just make up whatever projects. And the students are fun, of course.
Q: What was your dream job growing up?
A: It was to be an artist. I’ve always wanted to be an artists since I was 5-years-old. I really can’t understand when people are like, ‘oh, I don’t know what I want to do.’ I’ve never not known what I wanted to do. And in ways, it has been a lot harder and a lot easier than I ever thought it was going to be. I mean, I’ve worked on crazy projects that I had no idea how one would even get this project. You just gotta have faith, and stuff works out or it doesn’t. But mostly it’s been working out.
Q: What kind of freelance work do you do?
A: Right now I’m doing a wine label, but I’ve done all kinds of stuff. I do portraits sometimes for people. I do cards, gift bags and stuff for products. I’ve done everything from hospital spreads to gift bags and CDs. All kinds of stuff.
Q: What’s the most interesting job you’ve ever taken on?
A: The most interesting job is probably a poster I did for the NRDC benefit show in Los Angeles. The poster was not one of my favorite things I’ve ever done, but I went out to the event and got to go to the after-party with the celebrities. It was kind of like the Academy Awards except I was there wondering how the heck I got there. I’ve done so many [jobs], and they each have their own interesting thing about them at the time. A lot of the time, the current one is the most interesting one because it’s in front of me. You tend to forget about the bad parts of the job: how long it took and how many changes there were. It’s all fun in the long run. I did a lot of reissues for EMI which is a record label. And I did the reissues for the first 4 CDs for The Red Hot Chili Peppers. I’ve done local acts as well for 60 Second Crush, a local Detroit band.
Q: Who is your favorite artist (Photoshop or other medium)?
A: Of course, I like all kinds of painters and artists, but my biggest influence would be Matt Mahern because, when I started, he was interested in doing images that had an idea behind them. That’s what I really wanted to do, too. Not so much technically-based images like great paintings, but images that were about ideas.
Q: What is the most inspiring movie you’ve ever seen?
A: Right now there’s a documentary on Netflix called “Abstract: The Art of Design.” And one of my other favorite illustrators, Christoph Niemann is profiled in the one of the first episodes. That one is pretty awesome. But there’s a ton of documentaries, one called “Life is Beautiful.”
Q: What kind of music do you listen to while you work?
A: I listen to all kinds of music. I like, of course, dance music. I like old school hip-hop, Michael Jackson. But then again, I like all kinds of other stuff: Bruce Springsteen. It varies.
Q: What is your favorite snack?
A: Recently, it’s white cheddar popcorn and caramel corn mixed. I have a little bit of a problem with it.