Paul Tosh on Sarah Moore

Webster's New World Dictionary describes a mentor as a wise, loyal advisor, a teacher or coach. Sarah Moore, Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Arizona has been and is all of those. As my professor in several of my art history classes, especially those in European Modernism, she took a student with little knowledge and understanding of art history and instilled a deep and abiding passion for scholarship in these areas. She encouraged me to dig deep into all areas of art historical research, but especially those that pertained to graphic design and typography.

Professor Moore was a sympathetic ear and counselor to a sometimes-overwhelmed “non-traditional” (re: older, as in his 40s) graduate design student. But most importantly, she was my Rosetta stone, the key to a new way, for me, of looking at and approaching design, both as a practitioner and a future teacher.

Sarah Moore instilled in me the understanding and belief that all art, but especially design and typography, is understood within the societal, cultural and historical context in which it exists. She also instilled in me the belief that theory must be relevant to practice. This has sent me to further study historical and contemporary design/typographic theory and explore how it can be an effective tool to the practicing designer. I use my study and, hopefully, understanding of semiotic theory, deconstruction theory, Friedman's theory of legibility and unpredictability and others, to help both my students and myself explore new avenues of creative conceptualization.

She believed in me, and my potential as a teacher and artist, when I did not believe in myself. Where I had seemed to lose my passion for design, she helped me find vision and renewed passion. She knew when to cajole, when to encourage and when to kick me in the posterior. She was always there and available to help and talk. And she showed me, maybe somewhat unwittingly, that this is applicable to all aspects of life, whether dealing with clients or students.

Sarah Moore. Mentor. Teacher. Friend. Colleague. And my gateway to truly and passionately embracing an expanding future in design and design education.

Paul Tosh
Assistant Professor Graphic Design
Department of Art & Art History
University of Missouri-Kansas City
& *PDG Design [*pretty darn good]


About the Author: Never live a superficial life, never make superficial design. Any life, no matter how seemingly mundane, is important and exciting if lived with passion and open eyes for learning. Any design, no matter how seemingly insignificant, is excellent if approached with a passion to communicate it's message to the maximum and a desire to learn and grow as a designer.