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Meet the Faculty: Robert J. "RJ" Thompson


Adjunct Professor, Graphic Design 


Year Joined CCAC



Courses Currently Teaching

Interactive Design 1 
Publication Design 


Most Memorable CCAC Experience

My most memorable experience was getting to meet my students in person as a judge for the CCAC Graphic Design All-Nighter project. Students had to produce a new logo and advertising campaign for an arts exhibition-competition at the college. I had a lot of opportunities to connect with students and understand their career goals. Some of these students I was able to recruit into the MOMENTUM program from the Pittsburgh Chapter of the American Marketing Association (AMA), where they were able to learn more about marketing and design and receive a certificate of completion from Point Park University's Rowland School of Business. Additionally, helping those students land great jobs was also very rewarding. 


Why I Teach What I Teach

I've been a graphic designer since I was 11-so for 26 years I've been living, breathing and bleeding graphic and interactive design. I can't imagine myself doing anything other than teaching. Previous to joining CCAC, I was a tenured professor at Youngstown State University. When I left my position to relocate my career back in Pittsburgh, I was concerned I wouldn't have an opportunity to teach again. When I discovered adjunct instruction opportunities at CCAC, I was really excited to become a part of a greater community. Being able to positively influence student lives is very rewarding but also a responsibility I take very seriously. I maintain that if a student has me for a class today, ten years from now they should still feel comfortable reaching out to me for advice, help or mentorship. For everything they may learn from me, I learn double from them-and that is a great relationship. I believe that great careers start with graphic design. It's an incredible discipline to start with and spring board off of into other disciplines such as marketing, communications or even programming, information technology and more. I may not be a full-time teacher right now, though I hope to again someday-teaching is a part of who I am and what I do. 


Something People Might Not Know About Me

I'm also an adult fan of LEGO and build very large displays. I'll be featuring my work in an exhibition in Bellevue, Pennsylvania, later this fall. I'm building a LEGO version of the main business corridor, Lincoln Avenue, as well as a massive recreation of the Andrew Bayne Memorial Library, also in Bellevue. Outside of building, I run a branding and design research agency called +Public, where we work with municipalities on developing customized marketing and branding strategies. Recently, +Public branded the City of Hermitage, Pennsylvania. I'm also a mural artist, arts grant writer and president of AMA Pittsburgh. I'm always up to something and I don't like being bored, but when I get to create awesome things with amazing people, who has time to be bored? 


Favorite Quote

"The truth isn't the truth until people believe you, and they can't believe you if they don't know what you're saying, and they can't know what you're saying if they don't listen to you, and they won't listen to you if you're not interesting, and you won't be interesting unless you say things imaginatively, originally, freshly." -Bill Bernbach