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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

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Reaves designed the post for Shawshank Redemption. Reaves designed the post for Shawshank Redemption.

From Hollywood to Higher Ed

Alumnus Stephen Reaves teaches graphic arts students to be trendsetters.
By Coleen L. Geraghty

After a successful career as a creative director for some of Hollywood’s biggest names, alumnus Stephen Reaves found his true vocation.

While Reaves still has his finger on the pulse of the entertainment industry, he now teaches and is director of graphic design at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles (FIDM).

Enthusiasm for mentoring is clear in Reaves’ voice when he outlines the advice he often gives students.
“Don’t look over your shoulder for the latest, hottest thing,” he counsels them. “Why don’t you create the latest, hottest thing? Bring your true self into your design — your beliefs, your persuasion, your experiences.”

Reaves’ commitment to the next generation of graphic artists found new expression recently when he decided to make a planned gift to San Diego State University. His gift will support scholarships for graphic arts students in the School of Art and Design, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1978 and a master’s in 1987.

Life in Hollywood

Reaves transitioned from advertising into the entertainment industry in the 1990s as art director and designer for more than a dozen film campaigns, including those for “The Shawshank Redemption,” “Apollo 13,” “Fearless” and “The Age of Innocence.” 

He rose to vice president of creative for Intralink Film and Graphics and New Line Cinema. At that time, computer graphics began to replace illustration in the design process, and the entertainment industry was among the first to embrace the change.

Hooked on teaching

Drawn by Reaves’ reputation, FIDM approached him to write a new graphic arts curriculum for its students, incorporating elements of computer-based design.

He also began to teach and was immediately hooked. Reaves joined the faculty at California State University Long Beach before eventually returning to FIDM to direct and gain accreditation for its graphic arts program. He has generated internships and employment opportunities for students and developed industry partnerships for the school.
Despite his broad experience, Reaves said he is still learning.

“Art, by nature, is investigative. You never know enough. My whole perception of graphic design has changed through my work in entertainment and fashion. It’s not about selling a product; it’s about generating an attitude. Graphic design creates an emotional connection that can be very moving.”

Reaves will visit campus in August to meet with students and faculty in the Department of Graphic Design.