Maureen Lauran received her BFA/BS from the School of Art and Design at Pratt Institute in New York City. She went on to do graduate study in painting at Indiana University and in Italy, and then post-graduate study in Computer Graphics at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University. Her career as a designer, art director, and creative director, which included several staff positions with Fortune 500 companies, has spanned a number of years in such areas of communication as publishing, editorial, marketing, and branding design. She has received several industry vendor awards for excellence in design and production.
She first taught at the Smithsonian Associates in 2001, and went on to teach Graphic Design at George Mason University for several years before returning to the Smithsonian in 2009. Along with teaching studio art courses, she continues to work as a print and web-based designer for a variety of clients, including the U.S. Department of Commerce, The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Pearson Education, Prentice Hall Art Books, and Harcourt Brace. She works in a range of media, and her design work includes book covers, DVD jackets, posters, marketing materials, and website design.
Teaching art and design has been a wonderful opportunity for me to think about the role that art has played in my own life. When I am in touch with the joy and sense of fulfillment I have in the creative process, I want nothing so much as to give that same joy to my students. I believe the fulfillment for them comes with the knowledge that everyone can learn to draw, paint, or design, given the right tools and a sense of confidence.
My own grounding in the fundamentals of art as a student at Pratt Institute, remains the basis of my approach to teaching. Emphas is on color, form, texture, weight, balance, line are as essential to being a good graphic designer as to drawing, painting, printmaking, photography or any other art modality.
In this increasing digital age, I emphasize to my students that they should think of the software and hardware that we use in various areas of art and design as simply tools . Over the next five or ten years, artists will be asked to use other tools, some of which are beyond our imagining now. There fore, as a teacher, I believe it is of primary importance to develop the students’ sense of creativity and vision as well as their familiarity and facility with software. I have seen changes in software programs as they are continuously evolving and I want my students to be open and flexible to those changes. Being grounded in the basics of good design insures that they will carry their abilities with them into any program they may be asked to use.