Our first assignment was not a drawing assignment at all. Our teacher has been really emphasizing how important proper presentation of our projects is and so he wanted us to create a name card, made with foam core backing and magnets attached to the back, to be used in class every week to designate our project space. I was pretty excited about creating the name card and I spent quite a bit of time this week coming up with something that I liked. Last week the teacher showed us his name card and mentioned when he was describing the project incorporation of initials in the design. I misunderstood this to mean that initials were to be included in our name cards, so despite the fact that I'm not really an "initials" sort of a person (well, except when nfl fan friends of mine insist on calling me LT) I included my initials on my card. Other than the inclusion of my initials and generally the size of the name card (he gave us size parameters to work within, but my shape was similar to his), I think that my card was quite different from the teacher's card -- completely different color palette (I did a gradient blue/green background with a white radial flare and white lettering; his colors were flat, primary red, yellow and black), different arrangement and alignment of the elements, different font choices. So, you can probably see where I'm heading here...
When we got to class we put our name cards up on the board. He didn't make any comments at the time, but during class at some point he said something about my card being similar to his and was it intentional. I said no (and was inwardly surprised at the question, but thought it must have to do with the inclusion of my initials -- which I wouldn't have done if I didn't think (wrongly I found out) that it was part of the assignment). Later he made a point, in the middle of class, while critiquing my drawings made in class, of saying that he thought I should redo my card and then spent over a minute accusing me of just ripping off his idea and copying it. Oh, but it is my choice if I want to redo it or not. But I really should redo it. (I'm not exaggerating to say that people actually *gasped* while he was talking to me.)
I was mortified and deflated. I felt sort of stupid for having been so excited for this class and appalled that he would call me out like that in the middle of class. I kept my composure, but it really hurt. So now I'm trying to figure out what to do. This is where you come in.
One thing that I won't do is drop the class. In any event it is a mandatory design program class and he's the only person who teaches it. And dropping it would be cowardly and against my best interest. One thing that I feel like I must do is somehow regain my joy about being in the class. One thing about creative endeavors is that they are best done with joy and enthusiasm. I don't think it works to half-heartedly learn to draw or to enter the space of learning harboring resentment or anger at the person who holds the keys to my success.
The questions that I don't have answers to yet (though I have leanings), and frankly the hurt is pretty fresh still, are:
1. Do I say something to him? My only rebuttal to him during class was that I understood the initials to be part of the assignment, but that they aren't really me and I'd be fine with removing them. My feeling right now is that I should send him an e-mail that is not accusatory but that conveys that the way he treated me in class was not acceptable and that I do not feel in any way like I copied him. Obviously I would need a little time to process and be less raw before composing this e-mail. Knowing myself, I know that it will be easier to put this behind me if I have an opportunity to express myself. Otherwise I tend to stew and let my anger fester (not my finest qualities).
2. Do I change my name card and if so how much? I really don't care about removing the initials, but lord knows if that would be enough for him or not. Should I scrap the design and start over? I really like my design, but now it feels tainted. Other people in class also told me that they liked it and it did not remind them of his at all, but I guess that's a hollow victory at this point.
3. Do I just need to toughen up already? I've sort of prided myself on being not overly emotionally attached to my designs since starting this process. I am working to become a commercial designer after all, and much like the law there will be clients to cater to and people whose opinions necessarily will drive the design process. Should I try to treat his words as though they are coming from a client and just figure out a way to let them roll off my back without ever letting him know my point of view?
Please let me know what you think. Unless you think I'm a miserable sniveling copycat who stole my teacher's design aesthetic. Well, you can tell me that too, but I'm warning you that it might make me cry.