Finkel Named Educator to Watch

Finkel Named Educator to Watch

Graphic Design USA (GDUSA) named Robert Finkel, Associate Professor of Graphic Design, “An Educator to Watch 2018.” GDUSA, a professional resource for news about graphic design, initiated its “Educators to Watch” list in 2017, recognizing that “design education and educators have more influence than ever on the fast-changing shape of design, media and culture.” Finkel’s 2018 recognition marks the second consecutive year that an Auburn graphic design professor was included: Associate Professor Courtney Windham was on the inaugural list.

Finkel joined the graphic design faculty in the School of Industrial + Graphic Design in 2012. He teaches courses in Graphic Design History, Corporate Identity Design, Letterpress Printing, and Design for Social Good. Finkel also maintains an active design practice that both informs, and is informed by, his work in the classroom. “Teaching has helped me clarify my own design process and to be more intentional and reflective in the projects I pursue,” says Finkel. “Every day I’m around curious and enthusiastic designers—both students and colleagues. The reciprocal nature of the student-teacher relationship is motivating and inspirational.”

His work has received numerous awards. Alabama Workshop[s] Toolkit, created by Finkel and Sheri Schumacher, Associate Professor Emerita of Architecture, was selected for the Communication Arts Magazine Design Annual in 2017. Finkel and his team of graphic designers received a Gold Award from the University & College Designers Association Design Competition for a series of broadsides they created for the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Arts (JCSM). These broadsides, titled Third Thursday’s Poetry Letterpress Broadsides Series (2015–2016 Season), were also included in the exhibition, “Showcase: The Work of Creative Scholarship,” which was held in conjunction with Auburn’s “This is Research: Faculty Symposium 2016” at JCSM ( The series received awards from the 45th Annual UCDA Design Competition, “Creative Quarterly 38/39,” and “Signs of the Times: Juried Broadside Exhibition” at North Dakota University. Finkel’s identity design for the locally-based company, Hunter Construction, was selected for inclusion in the South section of the 75th Anniversary Edition of the Print Regional Design Annual 2015-2016, and his brochure design for Alabama Workshop[s] was selected as a Runner-up in the Graphic Design Professional category for Creative Quarterly’s Winter Edition (2014).

Finkel received his BA in Anthropology and Sociology from Rhodes College. He is a graduate of the Portfolio Center in Atlanta, GA and received an MFA from the University of Florida. Finkel interned at Pentagram under Michael Bierut and was a designer at Slaughter Group in Birmingham, AL, where he specialized in corporate identity and branding as well as custom letterpress printing and design. Learn more about GDUSA’s Educators to Watch program and read an interview with Finkel on the program’s website at:

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