Allan Espiritu represents Rutgers to his core. Not only is he an associate professor of art here at Rutgers-Camden, but he is a proud alumnus of this campus, graduating in 1992 with a bachelor’s degree in graphic design. A native of Jersey City, he says he always knew he would go to Rutgers; the only decision he had to make was which campus he would attend. Rutgers-Camden, he explains, was the “different choice,” because it was farther from his home, and would allow him to live on campus while he experienced another part of the state. He also appreciated the make-up of the student body, because they were not typical college students. Many worked full-time and had families they needed to tend to, and Allan related to this unique population.
While Allan says he always enjoyed art, it was not until he was forced to declare a major that he picked graphic design. He first fell in love with the craft after graduation, when he was making money mailer coupons for his first job. He credits this experience with being integral to his growth as a graphic designer, and helped to ignite his desire to open his own studio in New York City. He soon moved on to New York University, where he worked in the advertising and publications department, designing ads, brochures, posters, and logos for the different schools within the university.
- Associate Professor Allan Espiritu, always interested in visual images, gives us a different perspective on a “head shot.”
After being in the workforce for ten years, Allan made the switch to graduate school, because he wanted “to reinvestigate the how and why of graphic design, and to find a different process of making.” He enrolled at the School of Art at Yale University, and earned a master of fine arts degree in graphic design in 2002. His graduate degree prompted a shift into teaching, and in May 2002 he served as a visiting assistant professor at Rutgers-Camden. He taught courses like Introduction to Computer Graphics and Introduction to Graphic Design, and despite an initial reluctance to go into the classroom, he discovered he was passionate about teaching. While he found teaching demanding and nerve-wracking, he also found it to be rewarding. Allan practices “student-centered learning,” and says this philosophy allows the students to teach him as much as he teaches them, creating a democratic, open environment where learning is cherished above all. After his one-year stint as a visiting assistant professor was over, he applied to be a full-time assistant professor of art at Rutgers-Camden, and was overjoyed when he was awarded the position. In 2009, he was promoted to associate professor. His skill in the classroom was recognized in 2010, when he was awarded the Chancellor’s Teaching Award.
The Chancellor’s Teaching Award is far from Allan’s only award. He has received upwards of thirty graphic design awards during his career. The awards are judged by Allan’s peers in the art world, and he saystheir vote shows him that he is “making work that’s worthwhile and relevant.” According to Allan, though, the best thing about receiving awards is that his awards help his students get work. He also enlists his students to work in his Philadelphia studio, gdloft, of which he is the principle creative director. Allan’s eyes glow and his smile widens as he rattles off a list of students who have gone on to accomplish great things, such as helping with the Olympics identity campaign, and it’s clear that he takes great pleasure and pride in the success of his students. Likewise, we here at Rutgers-Camden are genuinely pleased and proud of Allan, a Rutgers-Camden Scarlet Raptor through and through.
About Allan Espiritu
Rank: Associate Professor of Art
Hometown: Jersey City, New Jersey