Kasten Searles

Assistant Professor of Graphic Art and Media Design

“Someone with a desire to learn and a good work ethic will improve quickly and often become more skilled than those that they once perceived as their more talented peers.”

Kasten Searles’s path as a designer began in Philadelphia with internships, production work, in-house design for area art departments and freelance projects.

“I was lucky to experience a wide range of design during my time there,” she said.

Searles received her B.F.A. in graphic design from the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University. After studying in Boston, she moved to Philadelphia to begin her career.

In 2009, Searles went to Dallas to pursue an M.F.A. in painting at the University of Dallas.

“Painting had always been a big part of my creative work, even while pursuing design,” she said. “Graduate school allowed me to explore my own ideas and prepared me to become an art educator.”

After teaching art and design courses as an adjunct instructor at UALR and Henderson State, Searles joined the Henderson faculty in 2014 as an assistant professor of graphic art and media design.

“I enjoy teaching in a way that supports original or unconventional ideas,” she said. “We must all learn the rules and standards of design, but it is often the quirky or unusual ideas that produce innovation or unexpected solutions.

“Many of the projects we work on are flexible enough to invite a broad range of creative solutions.”

Searles said many of her students will enter a class with limiting beliefs about what they can or can’t do.

“I think the most valuable lesson you can learn in college (or in life) is that everyone has the capacity to improve, even in those areas they don’t believe they have the talent for,” she said. “Someone with a desire to learn and a good work ethic will improve quickly and often become more skilled than those that they once perceived as their more talented peers.”

The most satisfying aspect of teaching, Searles said, is “seeing our students grow from hesitant, relatively inexperienced newcomers into young designers who are proud of their work. Within four years a freshman who is afraid to use the computer can become a graduating senior with an excellent portfolio and the confidence to find their first job.”

For students considering a career in digital art and design, Searles said they shouldn’t hesitate to pursue that path.

"The professional design world is so vast with many areas of specialization,” she said. “The types of media we consume and the platforms we use to consume it will change, but we will always need designers to help form it.”

Searles said digital art and design students graduate with a broad range of skills and a semester of professional experience.

“Every graduate must complete a semester internship where they gain experience in the professional world of design, making the transition to the professional world easier,” she said. “Our graduates leave the program prepared to work and acquire many positions with local and national design firms, businesses and publications.”

Searles said the community atmosphere at Henderson is “so welcoming.”

I have taught at schools where the students didn’t really seem to know each other or have shared activities,” she said. “Seeing our students study together, work together and help each other makes teaching at Henderson a more enjoyable experience.”

If she wasn’t teaching, Searles said she would probably be designing, illustrating and painting.

“But the experience of teaching makes all of these things more rich and interesting,” she said.

Searles said she enjoys training for and running half marathons.

“But I am the world’s slowest runner,” she said. “If you pass me out on the trail, say hi!”


Contact Info:

Degree and School:
M.F.A. in Painting, University of Dallas


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