Faculty Spotlight: Professor Phillip Motley

by Katie Williamsen, Elon iMedia Class of 2012


Professor Phillip Motley has been with the iMedia program since it began in 2009. He completed his undergraduate degree at Davidson College and received his Master of Industrial Design at North Carolina State University. Professor Motley has industry experience as a multimedia designer, animator and art director. Before returning home to North Carolina, he taught design at University of Wisconsin-Stout.

All students take Professor Motley’s Visual Aesthetics class in the fall semester of the program. He will stretch your creative side and teach you that good design is about problem solving.

Professor Phillip Motley and his fly-in group in Costa Rica

Professor Phillip Motley and his fly-in group in Costa Rica

How has your background influenced what you teach in the interactive media program?
My background is in art and design informs much of what I do in the iMedia program. Though I’m not trained in communications and mass media, the skills and experience that I have as a visual designer are useful to iMedia students who want to work in some way with interactive media, which is inherently visual in so many ways. In the iMedia program, I mostly teach visual aesthetics and design related topics so that type of background comes into play all the time.

Is there a college class or experience that has most influenced your teaching philosophy?
I think the most important influence on my teaching has been the varied nature of teaching experiences that I’ve had. I taught a little bit during graduate school; taught for four years in an Art & Design program to BFA students; and now teaching in a Communications program. I think that the chance to teach so many different types of students has helped me out with my teaching style and with my comfort in front of the class. My graduate school experience (the College of Design at North Carolina State University) really hammered home the idea of process which I’m big on trying to instill in my students.

What is your favorite thing about teaching iMedia students?
 My favorite thing about iMedia students is their willingness to jump right in on Day 1 and never look back. They are generally unafraid to express their views and opinions which is a nice contrast to many undergraduate students. I also really like the breadth of undergraduate degrees that they bring with them to the program. It’s refreshing to teach students who know a lot about so many things.

What is your favorite topic to teach iMedia students?
I enjoy teaching iMedia students about typography and about motion design. I really enjoy talking to them about narrative construction and storytelling. That’s an exciting area for communications students to focus on and is one that I believe will always be valuable. I’m always conflicted about wanting more time to dig into the technology aspect of much of what I teach. The fast-paced nature of the program and the course that I teach them in the fall (Visual Aesthetics) doesn’t allow for too much in-class time dealing with that aspect—and thus puts the onus on the students to figure out a lot of the inner workings of the software tools that they use. This works—and in the long run probably makes the students stronger at problem solving and being self-sufficient—but I do enjoy showing students how things work. Even though the summer course they take in August, Digital Media Workshop, is fast-paced and very much about tools, I enjoy it because it satisfies that side of my teaching interests.

How will the skills you are teaching translate to the future?
I think that most of the visual stuff we talk about in my classes are universal themes that are usable in a wide range of activities and occupations. Good design is good design regardless of where and how it is employed. The same is true of storytelling. We all love a good story and, for many of us, it’s the mechanism that we learn best from.

What would your students be surprised to learn about you?
That my daughter’s (Mackie) middle name is Nicole for the ridiculous reason of wanting her initials to be “MNM”

What is your favorite thing about living in North Carolina?
My favorite thing about being in the piedmont region of NC is how close we are to both the mountains and the beach. I know everyone says this, but it’s true. I grew up in the eastern part of the state (New Bern) so the coast is a special place for me. At the same time, I love the outdoors and grew up camping, backpacking and white water canoeing with my family so the mountains are also a big draw for me. Being relatively close to both is really nice.

Thanks for sharing a little bit about yourself, Professor Motley!

This entry was posted in Communications, Education, Profiles and tagged , by Katie Williamsen. Bookmark the permalink.

About Katie Williamsen

Katie is the web strategist and social media maven behind Katie Williamsen Web & Social Media Consulting, LLC. She helps lady bosses stop feeling overwhelmed so they can make effective changes for their business. Katie earned her master’s degree in interactive media at Elon University. Katie is also the editor of the lifestyle blog Twin Stripe, dedicated to helping fun, fabulous readers create a bright and modern lifestyle — that doesn’t cost a ton. When Katie isn’t strategizing with clients, blogging or working her 8-to-5 hustle, she’s spending time with her husband Chad and their pup Hobbes.

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