Graphic design technology instructor recognized with annual award
Andi Fink, 28, graphic design technology faculty at Dakota County Technical College, has been named DCTC 2020 Instructor of the Year. Andi started teaching at DCTC in August 2016.
“I am really honored to receive the DCTC 2020 Instructor of the Year Award,” Andi said. “When I signed on to teach, I never thought there were awards to be won, so I wasn’t teaching to win an award—I was and am doing it because I love it. I love working with students who are just dipping their toes into design for the first time. I love seeing the look on their faces as they start to connect the dots and feel the power of the knowledge they’ve gained at the school.”
Andi added that she feels privileged to be a part of each student’s educational journey. She is also proud to be a member of the Graphic Design Technology and Web Design teaching community, noting that she admires her DCTC colleagues for the expertise and dedication they bring to their profession.
“The best part of receiving the award was getting to read some of the responses from my students about why they voted for me,” Andi said. “It feels good to know you’ve made a difference in someone’s life.”
Andi teaches several courses in her program, including;
- Graphic Design Fundamentals
- Type and Layout I & II
- Print Processes and Production
- Illustrator II
- InDesign II
“In a world that is increasingly focused on tackling and dismantling systemic bias, I teach my students to embrace who they are and what they know as well as the points of view of their peers and the world around them. Encouraging students to experiment, take risks, and speak openly about their practice enables confident, independent development of their own design skills and artistic visions.”
Graphic Design Technology Faculty
DCTC 2020 Instructor of the Year
More about Andi…
Andi was born in Salem, Oregon and raised in Kansas City, Missouri. She is a graduate of Park Hill South High School in Riverside, a suburb of Kansas City, Class of 2010.
Andi has Master of Arts (M.A.) in Visual and Performing Arts from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (2016) and a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Graphic Design and Photography from the University of Missouri–Columbia (2014). She has worked as a graphic designer and photographer at General Mills in Golden Valley, Minnesota, since 2016.
When she’s not teaching or designing, Andi likes playing Magic the Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons. She enjoys watching TV—”It’s the golden era of television, truly.” She also enjoys podcasts and gardening. Andi resides in St. Paul, Minnesota, with her long-term partner and a Pomeranian-terrier mix named Luna.
An accomplished entrepreneur, Andi owns and manages her own small business, Fink, providing a full range of design services, including:
Andi Fink gallery
More about Graphic Design Technology at DCTC…
You have a creative vision. Learn how to bring it to life with the college’s Graphic Design Technology program.
As a student in this program, you will master the latest design tools, including Adobe Creative Cloud with InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop and more. Learn to communicate effectively in print, Web and interactive media while developing skills and knowledge in design concepts, typography, layout, illustration, animation and Web content.
Our instructors are talented professionals with years of industry-related experience. They will teach you how to design and deliver visual solutions to communications challenges.
The 70-credit Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Graphic Design Technology delivers a full spectrum of courses created to enhance your technical skills, including:
- Adobe Photoshop I & II
- Adobe Illustrator I & II
- Adobe InDesign I & II
- Typography and Layout I & II
- Web Page Construction I & II
- Introduction to Photography
- Print Processes and Production
- Graphic Design Career and Portfolio
- And more…
In your career as a graphic designer, you will be performing much of your work on a computer, working closely with internal and external clients on advertising, marketing and promotional projects for a myriad of organizations and businesses.
Andi Fink • Q & A
Why did you choose graphic design as your career field?
I thought that beautiful things should be for everyone, and I wanted to make work that served people. I thought design was a great way to build a powerful set of skills that could be applied in so many ways. I was right! When I was in college, I fell in love with the classroom and critiques and knew that what I really wanted to do was talk to other people about their work.
What do you like most about teaching college students?
I love that I get to interact with students at a moment when they are taking the reins of their education. Sometimes that is students right out of high school picking their path for the first time. Sometimes it is adult students who are building a new path for themselves.
No matter the reason, something brings them through the door and into the classroom—it’s an exciting prospect to be one of the first people to get them excited about the world of design and all of the passion and community there is waiting for them on the other side.
I love seeing students fall into their groove and develop a style and develop into a confident professional right before your eyes. It feels really special to play a part in their design life at such a pivotal moment.
What is your teaching philosophy?
I believe that engaged relationships and genuine exchange as both designers and individuals best fosters a collaborative learning environment. These engagements develop bonds of trust and respect that further enable students to take the risks and chances that I encourage in their design work.
In a world that is increasingly focused on tackling and dismantling systemic bias, I teach my students to embrace who they are and what they know as well as the points of view of their peers and the world around them. Encouraging students to experiment, take risks, and speak openly about their practice enables confident, independent development of their own design skills and artistic visions.
Three words that describe you as a college educator:
OPEN-MINDED. MENTOR. AGILE.
What is your favorite Adobe Creative Cloud application and why?
It’s hard to choose just one because they each have their own unique reasons to exist and highlights, but I think I would have to say Illustrator—I love the flexibility the application has to create all kinds of illustrations and text-based graphics and how easy it is to use even before you know all the bells and whistles. More so than the other programs, Illustrator acts as a blank canvas that I can both sketch and finalize work on.
What graphic designer do you admire most and why?
Lisa Congdon: she did not start designing until later in her professional career, but has really made a huge statement with her honest and colorful work. She is honest about her processes and her successes and failures. I feel that infuses so much of herself into the work and you know it anywhere because of that. In short, she’s a queer woman-owned business icon and makes gorgeous work while being a topnotch person.
What traits do students need to be successful graphic designers?
The ability to tackle problems head on, to think and talk about other’s designs, and to have confidence in themselves. Graphic design is really just a series of questions that you answer in rapid succession—so sometimes I say that designers are problem-solvers more than they are artists.
What is the greatest challenge for students studying graphic design technology?
The pace at which the industry changes. Software changes can occur weekly and unless you’re super tapped in to reading about the industry, keeping up on design trends, or practicing new skills once you’re on the job, you can feel left behind pretty fast.
Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
In 20 years, I’d still love to be teaching and running my business and spending summers in a cabin up north or tending to a greenhouse. I imagine there would be more plants and more pets no matter the scenario, and hopefully making a lot of new art.
One word that best describes your teaching experience at DCTC:
About the DCTC 2020 Instructor of the Year Award…¹
Instructor of the Year Committee: It is important to note the newly designed selection process was very comprehensive and thorough. Beginning in July of 2019, the Committee was formed and ultimately was comprised of students, staff and faculty. Next, a metric was created to weigh various objective criteria based on that which the Minnesota Board of Trustees utilize. The metric was augmented with additional criteria the Committee deemed essential and consistent with the unique aspects of DCTC as a higher education learning institution.
In February 2020, students, staff and faculty members were allowed one vote to nominate one faculty member. Once the names and votes were tabulated, the finalists were then asked to provide written answers to a series of questions the Committee agreed upon were central in determining excellence in education.
Our DCTC 2020 Instructors of the Year demonstrate extraordinary competence, passion and inspiration in teaching.
Create and design graphics to promote a product or service.
This career pays above the statewide median wage of $20.95/hour
Seven-county Twin Cities metro
In Minnesota, there are 6,190 workers employed in this medium-sized career. There will be a need for about 6,602 new Graphic Designers to meet market demand between 2016–2026. This includes the demand due to replacement (workers leaving the occupation or retiring) as well as growth.
- Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services
- Publishing Industries
- Printing and Related Support Activities
- Miscellaneous Manufacturing
- Management of Companies and Enterprises
Andi Fink • 12 Answers
- Favorite sport or physical activity: Volleyball
- Place you would most like to visit: Ireland
- The most exciting thing you’ve ever done: Started my own business
- Three things you would do if you won a $1 billion lottery: 1) Buy a cabin up north 2) Travel 3) Build a private garden
- Favorite TV show you’re watching now: Fleabag
- Best movie you’ve seen lately: I’m a big documentary geek, so The Amazing Johnathan
- One thing you most want to accomplish in life: Loving my work
- Your national bird if you were your own country: Parrot
- Dream occupation: Shop owner of a quaint gift and card shop
- Person you would most like to meet: Oscar Wilde
- Skill you would most like to learn and master: Carpentry
- Most important issue or problem facing humankind: The inability or unwillingness of people to continue to be students as they grow—we must all be willing to listen and learn and remember that it is okay to be wrong sometimes.
Learn more about Graphic Design Technology at DCTC by contacting:
Graphic Design Technology Adjunct Faculty
Academic and Financial Aid Advisor