The Art of Transformation: David Smit’s Story from Marine to Graphic Design Professor

August 1, 2022

ICC Class of 1994  (Art, Architecture, Graphic Design) 
Transferred to Northern Illinois University – Bachelor’s in Visual Communication 
Master’s in Visual Communication and Design from Bradley University 
Professor of Graphic Design and Multimedia at Illinois Central College 

Tell us about the career path that led you to your current job.

Upon graduation from NIU, I started working as a graphic designer in Chicago at an advertising agency, where I was quickly promoted to an art director position. When my wife and I started to have children, we decided to move back to central Illinois. Once back in the area, I was hired as a creative director at a local design agency. While working as a creative director I started teaching as a graphic design adjunct instructor at Bradley University in 1999. I immediately fell in love with teaching and continued teaching as an adjunct at Bradley off and on for several years. I knew that at some point in my career I wanted to teach full time. 

How did ICC shape your future or help you attain your professional goals?

I started attending ICC in 1991 after serving full time in the US Marine Corps. By this point I had been out of high school for 6 years and was ready to go to college, but I was also a little intimidated about going back into the classroom. I felt right at home at ICC, and I started studying architecture in the Fall of 1991. My transition to college was made so much easier by all the support I received from my instructors and the staff in student services at ICC. I credit ICC for helping me find my passion and getting me on track for future success at NIU and in my career as a designer. 

What does it mean to you to be able to teach at ICC and educate future ICC alumni?

It has been such an honor to teach at the institution and within the same program that was such an important part of my success as a student, graphic designer, and professor. This prior experience as a student at ICC helps me connect with my students in the classroom because we share similar experiences. 

What advice would you give current students at ICC to succeed?

My advice is to never give up on your goals. The idea is not to finish first, but to finish, no matter how long it takes. Persist and complete.