2019 DTA Medal

Medal design by Wanlu Liu

“The shape of the medal from the front is a large sweeping wave, alluding to the many challenges that teachers and students face throughout their academic lifetimes. The challenges may come like tidal waves, but teachers are always there to support students throughout these times, providing aid and different perspectives until the waves become small ripples.”

Daisuke Endo

Distinguished Teacher 2019–20

At 11 years old, Daisuke Endo fell in love with Bodoni, a modern typeface designed by Giambattista Bodoni in the late 18th century. Endo always knew he would be a designer, and it became possible thanks to wonderful mentors who guided him down this path. They inspired him not only to be a good designer but to be like them—a great educator.

Endo received his BFA in graphic design from the School of Visual Arts in 1999 and worked as a graphic designer at Pentagram Design in New York. Since then, he has designed for clients such as Amnesty International, BizReach, Callaway Golf, Douglas Elliman, and ESPN International, and has won many awards and honors.

In 2006, Endo began his teaching career at Pratt Institute. In 2017, he was promoted to assistant professor when the Communications Design Department introduced the new curriculum. As part of the rollout, in the last two years, he has taught five new core courses.

As a design leader and educator, his ultimate goal is to create an environment in which people can use their talent and creativity to the fullest extent, with the goal to enrich our culture and benefit others.

As this year’s Distinguished Teacher Award recipient, Endo would like to express special gratitude to his teachers and students who constantly inspire him to explore new horizons of design and education.

Commencement Speech

I am humbly honored to be counted among the instructors at one of the finest art schools in the world.
I have a list of people that I would like to express my appreciation to, but the list is way too long. Yet, there are three people that I must mention. First, I thank my fantastic TA, Marie Park. Without your help, I couldn’t even run my classes. So, half the award should go to you.
And, secondly, of course, my dear wife and my best friend Natsuka. Thank you. Only with your cheerleading, have I been able to keep going. So, thank you and I love you.
And lastly, you, the students. Thank you. Receiving an award from you means a lot.
Honestly, I was very surprised when I learned that I was selected for this award. Why me… For someone who does not have much knowledge, any authority, and who barely speaks proper English, it was unthinkable.
But, maybe, my deficiencies brought out the best in you. My deficiencies somehow motivated you more.
In fact, I must admit that I was learning what I was supposed to be teaching as I was running my courses, as you have heard me say, “I don’t know” many times during the class.
So, perhaps, we have learned how to learn new things together. And, perhaps, that’s the best way to learn and to stay relevant as an instructor or a designer in this rapidly changing world. So, thank you. It’s really not me. It’s you and your wonderful attitude that has made all this possible, and has made me a (slightly) better teacher.
Now, I am very honored to be with you at your graduation. As a last small piece of advice, please allow me to share what I have learned in my life. I will be very honest. So, it may sound a bit corny… here it goes.
I was born first. Like any typical Asian first son, my parents loved me so much, and I was spoiled. Really, I was spoiled to death. However, in less than two years, my sister was born and she took half of my parent’s love. OK. She was cute and I loved her, too. But another two years later, my brother was born and he took another half of my parent’s love. So, I was left with only 25% of the love. Obviously, it was not fair. It was so not fair. I was completely devastated.
But, things changed. One day, at my kindergarten, I painted a small picture and my parents were ecstatic. They said like, “Daisuke, you’re great. You’re like Picasso!” Quite frankly, I didn’t know who the heck Picasso was back then, but I quickly realized that I found a way to get my parents love back. Yes. 4 year-old Daisuke said to himself, “This is it!”
Since then, ‘Art’ became the way to get my parents love. Naturally, I got absorbed in ‘Art’, and became pretty good at it. (And) Without any hesitation, I went to art school, received a lot of awards, and got a job at a really great design studio in New York City. Yes, I made it in New York.
Frankly though, it was no surprise to me. Because, after all, ‘Art’ wasn’t just a hobby for me. It was the (very) reason for my existence. (I had to be great.)
So, I became pretty good, and consequently (as a result), I became full of myself. If you met me back then, you probably would not have liked me… I just wanted to be loved…but I didn’t find it after all.
Now, fortunately, I wasn’t that good, and soon I realized that life is not all about me. And through beautiful friendship, a happy marriage and (really, through) teaching, I learned that “there is more happiness in giving than in receiving.” Eventually I realized the paradox, as a Stoic Roman philosopher said, “If you wish to be loved: love!” Simple, right?
So, here is the lesson. Use what you’ve learned, not just for yourself, but use it for someone whom you love and care. I promise, that will make your life more meaningful and happy.
Now, I will give you one example for how you can use what you have learned here. Namely ‘creativity.’
People fight for their rights. Perhaps it’s not wrong to fight for one’s rights, but it often separates people more than unites them. You see that everywhere. So, whenever you face an unfair situation, whatever that is, don’t fight, but be creative.
For instance, when you face an unfair situation, resist the urge to create a poster to vindicate your right. My rights! Me, me me! No, no, no. That’s not the creativity I am talking about. Don’t use the “creativity” to fight. Rather, use your talent and imagination to create a place where nobody even needs to fight for their rights. Really, create a place (or platform) where people don’t even think about fighting for their rights. That is the real creativity. Don’t you agree?
So, here is the lesson. Always be driven by love, and use your precious gift (talent, imagination and creativity), not just for yourself, but for the people. If you do so, I promise, people will love you to death.
That’s about it from me.
I saw some of your senior portfolios at the show, and I was blown away. Awesome job. Many times, I’ve said to myself, “Man, I wish I came up with that idea.” I am not envious. In fact, I am truly happy to see that you become much better designers than I am. Really, there is nothing better for teachers than to see their students grow greater than them. Yes… job well done.
Alongside many wonderful teachers at Pratt, I am very grateful that I could, in some small way, contribute to your growth.
Congratulations and I love you.

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