Professor Grady

(Original post Spring 2018 — check for latest updates here) It’s official, my one year Lecturer position is coming to a close and I have been offered—and accepted—the position of Assistant Professor of Art, Graphic Design at BU!

James Grady
4 min readApr 25, 2018
Photo by Liz Linder

It’s been a very exciting year juggling all new classes, new clients, and at the same time preparing to apply for the Assistant Professor position. It was a lengthy application process which included meeting with the National Search Committee, the Director of the School of Visual Arts, and the Dean of the College of Fine Arts. I also gave a presentation that was open to all the faculty and students in the College. I feel very fortunate to have made it through the rigorous process and am honored and thrilled to be extending my position here at Boston University. I thought I’d share a little of my teaching philosophy as well as some of the amazing work my students have been doing this past year.

Teaching Philosophy

I have been developing my teaching philosophy for many years. It was not until I left a long-standing professional position to pursue an MFA at the Rhode Island School of Design that I discovered how the cycle of teaching and learning could help me rethink my own design philosophy. Through the process of researching and producing my master’s thesis I came to understand that my own surroundings and culture were a key source of inspiration, and I could translate that into a design methodology that supports my teaching philosophy.

Grad Studio Critique

My methodology is a port of entry when working with my students. I seek to instill the confidence in my students that they don’t need to look far for inspiration, they just need to look closely. Often, things that are overlooked from our everyday can inspire formal and theoretical work. With this foundation, students can begin the process of critical thinking and problem-solving. After the iterative design process begins, I support my students to experiment with different types of media, from traditional 2D print media, and all aspects of digital media. Needless to say, digital media is critical in contemporary graphic design, but it must be supported by the history of graphic design, typography, and 3D form making.

Computer Science x Graphic Design Mini-Hack

Understanding specific tools and technology is important to prepare students for life outside the university setting, but it is more important that students understand first where their inspiration can come from, and second what their role is as multidisciplinary designers in society. If students have an understanding of themselves, as well as multiple systems of discipline, this will help them cross traditional boundaries to find where new ideas can emerge. Well-rounded thinkers and makers need to be critical and accept criticism to be good collaborators. Graphic Design is a shared experience now more than ever, and as a teacher, I look forward to learning from the next generation of designers.

Kristen Mallia MFA Thesis Installation

Undergraduate and Graduate Courses

Since classes started in the Fall, I’ve been teaching Graduate Studio, Graduate Typography, Web Design, Motion Design, and Senior Thesis. Below are a few of the projects from Undergraduate and Graduate students.

Molly Haig
Ellen Lo
Namhee Kwak Thesis Presentation

What’s next?

My Senior Thesis class will be installing their show in the 808 Gallery next week. Come on by, it’s going to be great! More details at:

This summer I’ll be teaching a Typography class, working with select clients, and spending some quality time with my family. (Oh, and I did update my website, since my first post back in January.) If you have an interesting project or would like to talk about anything design or education related please drop me a line.

Thanks again to everyone who has supported me (especially Christina 😘).


James Grady
Assistant Professor, Graphic Design
School of Visual Arts, College of Fine Arts
Boston University

Please keep on the look out for more updates.

Send me an email |



James Grady

Principal, Design Axl & Assistant Professor of Graphic Design, Boston University