Professor Spotlight: Scott W. Santoro

Every month, LogoLounge features a member to take our “Center Stage.” For September, we decided to shake things up by featuring not only a designer to watch but also one of our most active LogoLounge Leap educators, Scott W. Santoro, who teaches design at the Pratt Institute in New York. Check out the following “Professor Spotlight” interview below.

Tell us a little about yourself, your background and your work? What do you teach and where at?

I was originally an apprentice plumber — it’s in my blood. Lots of uncles, cousins and my father soldered pipes together. But my parents wanted me to go to college and I liked to draw, so I went to art school. I worked for five years at top design studios, but I wanted more. So, I went to Cranbrook Academy of Art to earn my MFA in graphic design. It was there that I made a link back to my roots, including plumbing imagery in my projects. Instead of directing the flow of water, I direct the flow of information. I might have dealt with systems behind the walls, but now I deal with the systems in the mind. All of these connections as metaphors were there for me to discover.

Today, I’m principal of a design studio in Manhattan’s East Village called Worksight. I’m also a tenured professor who teaches Graphic Design at Pratt Institute, and use a textbook I wrote and designed for Pearson Education, called “Guide to Graphic Design.”

Scott W. Santoro logos.

Why use

I always tell my students not to “operate in a vacuum.” They have to be research-driven, proactive and resourceful. Ultimately, they must find their ideas nestled in between the strokes of their pen, but provides a resource for them to help “thought-start” ideas and formulate treatments.

When and how do you use the site?

If I’m working on something that involves a “hand,” or “dog,” or “window,” I’ll search those keywords to see how other designers have abstracted them into marks. Direct research like this is more “riffing off of” rather than “ripping off of.” There’s a difference.

Professor Santoro with student Nicolette Francis using

Can you tell us of a lesson that you have used, in which you and your students have utilized

Assigning individual briefs of local businesses produces a good outcome because they’re real and also creative. Names like Bagel Talk, Champion Stamp, and Used Book Cafe already have a mashup idea in them, which makes them ripe for students to do something inventive. Step one is to develop lists of words that concretely describe the business for later use, in mixing and matching visual imagery. For Champion Stamp, the student included words such as trophy, crown, cancellation marks, stamp texture, etc. An idea is always found through this process. is an invaluable source to spur them on and to see how many ways they might treat their final design. The goal is to form a mark that supports the idea. For example, a student might decide to use a hard-edged look versus a textured one, or to go figurative rather than abstract.

How does the Lounge benefit you, your classroom and your students?

When we visit as a class, the marks that stand out most are the ones that convey ideas in an inventive way. In other words, LogoLounge helps one connect intellectually and aesthetically.

Can you show us some of your students’ work/process?

Each student example shows how an idea can fulfill itself through visual form. Mediums can get tired, but ideas tend to endure.

The following marks were created by some of my current students, who used LogoLounge per my instruction.

Student work by Adrian Volz
Student work by McKenzie Knupp.
Student work by Nicolette Francis
Student work by Roli Maheshwari.
Student work by Elle Munoz-Diaz.

What are the best parts of being a design teacher?

My mentor Charlie Goslin used to say, “An idea is the hat rack that everything hangs on.” Getting students to understand that quote through the work they do is gratifying. And, ironically, the identities they create for companies and organizations will define their own personal identities as proud graphic designers. This is the way I can add to my part of the world.

To learn more about Santoro and his work, you can visit his worksight biography page here. To learn more about the textbook he has written, visit the “Guide to Graphic Design” book page.

Interested in our FREE LogoLounge Leap educator program? Are you a current student of design who would like to receive a discount on membership? To learn more about what LogoLounge Leap can do for you, please see here.

And be sure to check back in October, as LogoLounge features another talented member! The next designer to be featured could be YOU!

Like what you see? You, too, can join our tribe of quality designers and marketers who continue to make their mark by utilizing the invaluable resource that is
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