Q&A with UM Graphic Arts Professor Megan Cary

Kathy Dean Arts, Experience, Learning, News

Megan Cary believes in the power of art and design. The associate professor of graphic arts empowers University of Mobile students to use their God-given talents to visually influence our culture through art and design. She’s also interested in science fiction – you might get bonus points for answering a Star Trek-related question on a quiz. We asked Cary to tell us about the graphic arts program in UM’s Alabama School of the Arts, how she prepares students to impact the world through their art, and what it means to “be known.”

Q: Why should someone choose to study graphic design at the University of Mobile?

A: I believe that UM’s graphic design program prepares students for future careers in a way that many traditional design programs do not. My curriculum emphasizes new and emerging design methods, user experience, multiple internship opportunities and portfolio building. It’s resulted in a higher-than-average employment rate for our graduates.

Q: What courses do you typically teach?

 A: I teach a wide variety of courses included print, user experience, web and portfolio design. I enjoy classes where we get to do hands-on activities, whether it is paper prototyping app designs, building out books or restaurant packaging by hand, or illustrating/painting.

 Q: We say UM is a Christ-centered academic community where students can “Know and Be Known.” What does that mean to you?

 A: We are a community that cares about one another. I know all of my students and care deeply about them. This doesn’t stop after graduation – I’ve attended their weddings, met up for coffee check-ins and mentored them about their career transitions.

Q: What is your background?

 A: I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of South Alabama with concentrations in graphic design and painting. I earned my Master of Fine Arts from Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in 2013. I’ve served in senior-level corporate design positions, run my own design and marketing business, and have been teaching design and studio art courses at UM for the past seven years.

 Q: Your dissertation focused on interactive design. What drew your interest to that area of study?

A: I’ve always been interested in interaction design and how user experiences play a significant role in our lives. My graduate research examined how internet culture has created a cognitive shift in the way we interact and learn. While many educational institutions, like universities, have adapted to this change, many have not. Museums have particularly suffered from a lack of attendance and inability to deliver interactive design exhibits that stimulate and engage an audience. My thesis revolved around how we could utilize interaction design principles and methods to increase their attendance and engagement.

Q: What are some of your interests or hobbies?

A: My husband would say my hobby is work, and he’s not wrong! I’m always working on classes, curriculum, design projects and the design non-profit I am on the board of. I enjoy anything art-related like drawing, printmaking and sewing. But primarily, I’m a big nerd and enjoy science fiction and playing Dungeons and Dragons. If you have taken one of my classes, you’ve probably seen a Star Trek-related bonus question on a test!

About the Author

Kathy Dean

Kathy Dean is assistant vice president for university communications and has helped tell the University of Mobile story since 1993. She is an award-winning public relations professional and former journalist. Her husband and daughter are UM graduates. She loves playing in the yard – planting flowers, picking blueberries, pulling weeds and petting her two mini-schnauzers.