2008 DTA Medal
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Distinguished Teacher 2008–09
Floyd Hughes, adjunct associate professor, Communications Design, has taught at Pratt Institute since 1997. A professional artist and writer, who now lives in Brooklyn with his wife and children, Hughes was born in the East End of London to Guyanese parents and studied illustration, film, television, fine arts, music, and comics. Hughes teaches four courses at Pratt- Visual Communications, Sequential Art, Methods and Media, and Senior Project- while pursuing a successful freelance career.
“I could easily live in Los Angeles, working in the film, television, and animation industries there,” says Hughes, “but my affiliation with Pratt keeps me here. It’s a great school with great people. I’ve met and formed friendships with people whose work I admired from afar, and many of my students are doing extremely well. It’s a joy to see their names on children’s books, film credits, novels, and gallery windows.”
Students describe Hughes as “the proverbial spoon full of sugar to Pratt’s medicine” and as “an amazing and patient teacher- inspiring, approachable, motivational, and fun.”
Hughes has worked in comics for Marvel, D.C., and Image comics, illustrated books for several publishers, created art for AC/DC CD’s and music videos for Naughty by Nature, Outkast’s Andre 3000, and R. Kelly; and made designs for MTV’s Downtown, Celebrity Death Match, and VH1’s Divas 2000. He served as a storyboard artist and special effects technician for Hellraiser and Hellraiser II and as pre-production storyboard artist on the film Highlander.
More recently Hughes has worked for Mega Media records and Heavy Metal magazine, contributed designs for the revamped Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, produced conceptual illustrations for Will Smith’s movie I Am Legend and designed the merchandise and store identity for the Forbidden Planet bookshop in Manhattan. The year 2008 saw the release of ‘85 his graphic novel adaptation of artist Danny Simmons’ 2003 novel Three Days As the Crow Flies. Currently, Hughes is at the final stage of transforming the screenplay “F-Train to the Bronx” into a graphic novel due out this summer.
I’ll try to keep this relatively short and painless. First, I’d like to wish the very best to everyone in the Pratt Community and their families and friends on this most special day. I thank the administration, staff and fellow faculty members, in particular those in the Com D department, my family, especially Mayleen who has suffered my presence for 20 years and endured 16 years of marriage as of yesterday, my late parents, who would have been very proud of me, and of course the students who felt my ego and my head, wasn’t big enough as it is.
I decided to avoid mentioning any names as it would be awful if I forgot anyone, but I shall make just one exception. Next week marks the first anniversary of the passing of Charles Goslin, who for 4 decades was teacher, mentor, and friend to many in the Pratt Community. We miss him terribly.
However, today is about you.
I shall now take this opportunity to quite presumptuously, as most of you have no idea who I am, speak to you students about your future now that this phase of your lives is completed.
Very soon, you will all be removing the boards from your heads and cheering as you toss them into the air!
When they hit the ground, unless you have prior arrangements, you will be officially self-employed. Not unemployed, self-employed. It sounds rather daunting, but that is not how you should look at it. Really, you should see this as the next phase of your lives, that being the start of a long and successful career in your chosen field. Over the years, you and your families have made many sacrifices to get you to this point, and here you are! You succeeded. Well done! We are proud of you, and you deserve a round of applause.
I have often stated that the faculty here at Pratt are second to none and I believe it. So it stands to reason that I believe the same of the students. You are the best. With that in mind, do not hesitate in getting your careers started. Many of you will be going on interviews in your respective fields, checking through the industry rags, looking for opportunities. It won’t be easy. I’ve been freelancing for 28 years, and like any other field of choice it requires the courage of your convictions and a strong commitment to succeed by virtue of working hard, and producing good work. Learn to have patience, but keep moving. At times you have to create opportunities and not wait for them to knock at your door. Don’t fall into the trap of complacency as it is a very dangerous place to be. 6 days ago, I was on the uptown #4 train and noticed a large shoulder bag on one of the seats. I asked the 30-odd passengers if I was the only person concerned that there was an abandoned bag in the carriage. My fellow passengers merely mumbled incoherently, shrugged their shoulders and went back to whatever they were doing. Even the transit emergency staff I informed were somewhat nonchalant about it. I have seen it happen with students. While I get great pleasure in seeing the work of many successful former students, it is rather upsetting to encounter those that took a regular job to “keep them going until something comes along” and later hearing them say “I’m usually too tired after work to get on with my own stuff”. Soon after, they settle into that regular job and forget everything they had spent 4 years working towards. That is totally unacceptable. You must be constantly working at your craft and always improving.
Never forget who you are in your field. You are the Talent, the Creator, the Innovator, and you should never feel you are anything less.
When I’m old and toothless I want to be in a building designed by you. In an apartment equipped with furniture and gadgets designed by you, surrounded by music, literature and art created by you, watching programming created by you on a television designed by you. Hopefully, it will all have been created with vision, cultural sensitivity, social responsibility, and integrity.
When you leave here you will be armed with a degree from the Pratt Institute, and, pardon my English, that bloody well means a lot!
In closing, once again, thank you for thinking me worthy of such a prestigious award, and in November, exercise your civil right, and once again, Vote.