Sean Nixon

MFA Photography/Media, SVA, School of Visual Arts, NY, NY
BFA Photography, University of the Arts, Philadelphia, PA


Graphics Consultant

Freelance Graphic Design

Original Art & Illustration


AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts)
CAA (College Art Association)
GAD (Graphic Artists Guild)

Teaching Awards & Distinctions


Unique Curriculum Classroom Structure

The structure of my classes mirror a professional work environment. The Real World Classroom model is unique in that the students are matched with local businesses in need of design services which can extend beyond the classroom into student freelance opportunities and internships. As a result, I take on various roles found in a design profession, i.e., "art director" "client" etc., so students can gain experience following instruction as they would in the work environment. It is common for me to take on the role of "account liaison" (role model) which can involve many hours of managing the student and their customer.

On Location Instruction

I take classes out on location for both instructor-led research and individual guest presentations. Locations have included: Barnes & Noble, Emmanuel's Market, Women's Studio Workshop, Design Galleries and Business Expos to name a few.

The Road Map

is an interdisciplinary, comprehensive website that drives students to a host of services offered on and off campus, i.e., career and student services, etc.. Using gamification, students play a scavenger hunt and find pertinent information by performing the tasks needed to assemble a successful education and career roadmap. Watching students make use of technology in this very practical way has been exciting. The Road Map has been a pet project of mine since 2012 and was fully realized after partnering with John Sheehan and his computer science students. The outcome provides better recruiting, enrollment and retention.

Art and design history

Curriculum using "Blackboard" course management platform. Sample course titles include History of 20th Century Design and 20th Century Art, Art 101 An Introduction to Visual Arts and Art 107 Art History I.

International Learning Events

Producer/Instructor: Seven Day Guided Design Tour: London, England.
Conference Presenter and Mentor: Cuernavaca, Mexico.
Producer/Instructor: Seven Day Guided Design Tour: Mexico City, Mexico. Made possible by a Santander Global Scholars Travel Grant

International Learning

I have also built into my curriculum the opportunity for "visiting" instructors from outside of the U.S. to work with my students as Guest Teachers providing an international perspective. This type of instruction serves to illustrate both the differences and the universal features of design throughout the world.

Curriculum Development

Aside from The Real World Classroom, I strive to make sure that the curriculum is relevant and essential. I have developed a course tentatively titled Introduction to 3D Design based on research, workshop participation, colleague interviews and other institutions currently using 3D. We hope to see the course begin in the spring of next year. The feedback so far is promising, “Sean, the 3D Design class you are proposing could potentially transfer into School of Visual Arts’ Design curriculum.” - Kate McWatters, Manager of Transfer Admissions at School of Visual Arts.

Design Studio and Teaching of E-learning

I am the primary full-time faculty teaching all intro to advanced design studio courses.


As an active instructor in COIL, I am part of a teaching and learning methodology which provides innovative, cost-effective ways for students from around the world to work together. My design students have this opportunity to build their resumes and portfolios and expand their employability by having experience as digital professionals. Practices like this can also enhance their confidence and increase their communication skills.

Off-Campus Student Art Shows

Professional Gallery exhibitions include: “Political Posters” – Muroff-Kolter Gallery show, "Design Stimulus" - ASK (Arts Society of Kingston, a fundraiser for Habitat for Humanity & SCORE, Kingston, N.Y.) "CHRCH project space" Rosendale, NY. "Social Media" KMOCA (Kingston Museum of Contemporary Art) Kingston, NY, "The Power of Water" - NO-_Space Gallery Rosendale, NY

Student Success

My inbox is continually receiving messages from former students looking to touch base. I am surprised and delighted by the success rate of employment. The hiring level, in particular, is what I am thrilled by. Both the two-year program and the four-year program students seem to find gainful employment quickly after graduation.

Just a few Alums that I follow are:

Gregorio (Lead Developer at Dragon Search)

Kate (Junior Designer at Chronogram Magazine)

Edward (Web Content Specialist at Newburgh Enlarged City School District)

Raechelle (Owner/designer of Raedesigns)

Ralica (Software Developer & Program Development)

Basia (UX/UI Designer at NC State University)

Amanda (Graphic Designer at Tuthilltown Spirits)

Regina (Graphic Designer at Lions Crest Design)

Etsuko (Adjunct Lecturer, Graphic Design at State University of New York, New Paltz and Ulster)

Leanna (Creative Director at We Are Triumphant (Records)
(Senior Copywriter at BBDO Amsterdam NL)

Elizabeth (Creative Director for Topical BioMedics 

Jennifer (Interactive Production Designer at Spongecell) . . .

Colleague Testimonials

"Sean clearly helps students learn about the possibilities in design, media, art and beyond and gain an appreciation they may not have possessed before. Sean then enables them to tap into their own inherent talent and confidently move toward significant achievements." 
Ilene Cutler
"I’ve had the opportunity to work with Sean on several initiatives including the Real World Classroom Roadmap software application and the Applied Learning Committee. His dedication to creating new and innovative learning opportunities for our students serves as an inspiration to us all."
John Sheehan
Coordinator – Computer Science Program
"I first discovered Sean Nixon when I read an article about his Real World Classroom and thought, this is awesome! I have used this model with great success. It has helped to provide my students with practical, useful, experiential learning that they can’t get from a book."
Mindy Kole, Ph.D.
Associate Dean of Adult Learning

Student Testimonials

"His vision is powerful, selfless, and he truly cares about a student’s ability to become a success in this field. I honestly don’t think I would have grown to become the designer I am today without him as my instructor." 
Santos Ayala
"Finding a professor who is both an educator and a mentor is a true rarity. Professor Nixon balances hard critique with approach-ability. I admire his quiet authority and leadership in the classroom, which helped me shape the confident, capable professional I am today."
Kate Brodowska
"What separates Professor Nixon from other professors I’ve had, was how he relates everything to the real world. He assisted me outside of class, challenging me to think bigger. I cannot thank him enough for helping shape me into the man I became."
Michael Olivieri

Client Testimonials

"What an extraordinary experience it has been working with you and the students this semester. Just amazing! And the results are beyond what we imagined."
Hal Rabbino
My Village Coffee Co.
I am a huge fan of Sean Nixon’s Real World Classroom™, a program that combines local businesses, non-profit organizations and the community to provide real-life experience for students before they go out into the “real world”.”
Irene Berner
Financial Planner
"I had the pleasure of working with Sean Nixon’s class and the Real World Classroom graphics program. The students were attentive, and the professor was well organized, facilitating the process seamlessly. I felt fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with them."
Jessica Poser
Habitat for Artists


International Private Tours and Trainings

Private tour of the Biennale: Venice, Italy
Private artist tours: Morano, Florence, & Milan, Italy
Attendee COIL conference: Osaka, Japan
Private museum tours: Tokyo, Osaka & Nara, Japan
Private museum tour: Helsinki, Finland
Private architectural design tour: Tallinn, Estonia
Private architectural tours: Cuernavaca, Mexico

U.S. Private Tours and Trainings

George O’Keefe Museum, Mesa Verde National Park & Folk Art Museum: Santa Fe, NM
Asian & De Young Museums: San Francisco, CA
Getty Museum: Los Angeles, CA
Haystack Mountain School of Crafts: Deer Isle, Maine 
Aldridge Contemporary Art Museum: Ridgefield, Connecticut
Research/Design tour & PICA Portland Institute of Contemporary Art & Craft Museum: Portland, OR
Museum tour of NIKE Company: Beaverton, OR

Museum of American glass sculptor Dale Chihuly: Seattle, WA
Chicago Art Institute Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art & School of Cinematic Arts, Depaul University: Chicago, IL
Galleries Tour - the Lower East of Manhattan, NY, NY

Recent Reading List

Making Design: Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum Collections iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy--and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood--and What That Means for the Rest of Us The Design of Everyday Things, The Global History of Architecture, Left to Right: The Cultural Shift from Words to Pictures Designing for People, Art Since 1940: Strategies of Being D.I.Y. Design It Yourself 101, 1001 Buildings You Must See Before You Die: The World's Architectural Masterpieces 1000 Lights: 1878 to Present, This Means This; This Means That: A User's Guide to Semiotics, Decoding Design: Understanding and Using Symbols in Visual Communication, Generation Me - Why Today's Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled--and More Miserable Than Ever Before, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success … Mindset reveals how great parents, teachers, managers, and athletes can put this idea to use to foster outstanding accomplishment, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap, and Others Don't

Periodicals and Newspapers

News Feeds



I am a recipient of several grants including:

SUNY Ulster Strategic Planning Grant for innovation in support of the college's strategic initiatives. My project included research for recruitment and marketing strategy that attracted more adult learners to the school’s design program. Research Studies Applied Learning 

Title III Grant: Online Course Assessment, Co-author: Jim Hobbs

Title III Grant: The Real World Classroom Road Map, Co-author: Karen Robinson

Global Scholar Santander Travel Grant: Student's Travelled to Mexico City, Mexico. 

Research Studies Applied Learning

I have conducted various research projects over the past seven years. Working with survey data from Educators and Alumni, I have collected key information to explore the validity of Applied Learning in the classroom. 

Sample questions from Educator's research: "The challenges teachers may face with student participation and success." "Most pressing needs, challenges and experiences in today's classrooms." 

Sample questions from Alumni research “What behaviors and situations deterred you in the program?” “What did the SUNY Ulster curriculum miss/would you add in retrospect?” “How well did the SUNY Ulster Design Program prepare you for transfer or employment?” 3D & Media Curriculum

In keeping the design program vital and current, I have conducted research in preparation for creating new courses in the curriculum. A recent study that I ran collected data about other college’s innovations including “How many design programs in SUNY require 3D courses?” and “What are the course outlines for 3D classes in design programs?”

Other Research

I am continually interviewing leaders in technology, design, arts, and business in the Hudson Valley to get a direct pipeline from experts who are knowledgeable about trends and innovation. Evolving Media, Hudson Valley Tech MeetUp, Digital Media Lab, Chambers of Commerce, Design Firms, Conferences, and Academics. This form of research ensures that I am always discovering what tomorrows demands will be to maintain a relevant program.


As a member of the Applied Learning Advisory Council, I attend monthly phone conferences on applied learning. Topics include “SUNY Micro-Credentialing Task Force Report and Recommendations” and “Innovation and Entrepreneurship; Individualized Education; Sustainability; and Partnerships.” 


I am a regular attendee at the teaching and technology workshops offered at SUNY Ulster. A small sample includes titles such as: Sharing Knowledge about Adult Learners, Angel to Blackboard Migration Sessions, COIL Learning & Sharing, Coping with Seven Disruptive Personality Types in the Classroom, 10 Ways to Engage Your Students on the First Day of Class and Make a Webinar, Social Media Bootcamp and Record it with Blackboard Collaborate. 

Outside of SUNY Ulster, I attend workshops such as A 3D Printing Camp for Educators (a full- day, hands-on training on using 3D printing technology), Ceramics Study at the Women’s Studio Workshop and Savvy Book Marketing Secrets events in New York, NY with Steve Harrison.


I attend 1 to 2 conferences per year as a presenter and as an attendee. A very small sample of sessions I have sat in on as attendee include “Genesis of Video Art in Latin America” at the College Art Association annual conference and “Using Motivational Interviewing Tools to Help Students Succeed” at the Institute for Community College Development Conference. 


To strengthen the design department's recruiting and curriculum development efforts, I receive ongoing consulting with experts such as digital marketing trainer Doug Motel (topics include: WordPress, Storytelling in Marketing, Social Media Marketing and more) and writing coach Tanya Robie (writing style and editing).


I am a great believer in the personal and professional benefits of being of service. Whether it is sitting on college-wide committees or acting as "evangelist" on behalf of SUNY Ulster out in the community at large, I meet new people and get to be a part of the decisions and exchange of ideas that affect our student's success.

College Committee Work:

Starting as a small group that I spearheaded to provide workshops on the topic, the Applied Learning Task Force has seen fast growth, and I now act as the Chair. The committee is now made up of some of the key talents in the offices of the Dean, Continued Education, Business, Student Service, Student Internship, COIL and the department of Academic Travel. Part of our work is to explore the development of a Center for Applied Learning and Career Development, and our committee received a SUNY Applied Learning Community Practice Grant which has provided seed money for the initiative, and our scoping is underway now. 

Other college-wide committees that I have contributed to include: IRC Instructional Resources Committee (current Chair), The President's Community Cabinet and the Faculty Search Committee. 

For the Art Department, I am a member of The Exhibition Committee tasked with assisting The Muroff-Kotler Visual Arts Gallery in its mission to serve as a center for creative artistic activity at the College and the outside community.

Serving Students

As Faculty Advisor to the Design Club, I have guided students through the process of setting up and maintaining a student-owned design firm.

Curator and Producer of Pop Up Gallery entitled "Political Posters" which involved both students and faculty from the History, English and Communication areas. 

I make myself available to assist students to navigate through their internships and freelance work opportunities. 

SUNY Ulster has a MAC computer lab from an equipment upgrade grant from Ulster County. This opportunity stipulated funds channel through a department that provides a career curriculum which qualified the Design Program to usher in the equipment that is shared with and heavily used by the Fashion, Fine Art, Design, Communication, Continuing Education and Photography departments. I offer my time in various ways, from ordering supplies to managing lab monitors.

Alumni Service

I enjoy working with Alumni in various ways. I stay in touch with students and invite them back as guest speakers to share their experience with current design majors, and I host an annual alumni networking party at the close of the spring semester. 

I conduct online surveys with alumni to discover ways to improve upon curriculum and to find out how their career trajectory is evolving. 

Available as a resource to the community for design career advice and mentoring. 

Recruitment Efforts

As part of my college service, I am on the lookout for funding opportunities that can lead to increased enrollment. As a recipient of a SUNY Ulster Strategic Planning Grant for innovation, we have targeted the following adult learner demographics in our research and marketing: Artists, Designers and the Business community at large. We are addressing the need for job skills, career change, and partnerships/internships/employment and seeing a direct correlation between our efforts in this two year plan and some new enrollment.


As Coordinator of The Design Program, I act as the representative to ensure the program fulfills its mission of employment and transfer. Tasks include managing and mentoring adjuncts, advising students for education and career, develop curriculum, provide community outreach & public relations, advance recruitment initiatives and manage High School collegian courses and instructors. 

More Opportunities to Serve

More Opportunities to Serve I have made myself available to all requests for providing Class Observations for fellow faculty. Departments have included Music, Fine Art, Fashion, Business and Computer Science to name a few. 

After volunteering to act as Applied Learning Liaison, I was named SUNY Applied Learning Expert by our Dean.

Community Service

Design and careers in design are of interest to residents in this region. Kingston, for instance, has an unusually high per capita of people with an arts background. As a result, I am regularly asked to offer time sharing about the SUNY Ulster Design Program and college issues in general. A sample of the ways that I volunteer service to the community as a representative of the college is below.

As the face of the program, I help draw public attention to the college. Some of the efforts include:

● Speaking at local groups such as The Rotary and Chambers of Commerce to spread awareness of the school’s programs
● Local radio interviews “You did a fantastic job describing your program. I was very impressed with the breadth and scope of your curriculum and the “hands on” experience your students get from their internships at area businesses.” – Show Host, Anthony Marmo WGHQ Radio
● Writing and distributing press releases and pitching featured articles to media. Samples: Real world class to the rescue (
Daily Freeman), A ‘road map’ app that can change the way students go to school (Bluestone Press) SUNY Ulster Awarded Grant for Student Travel (Hudson Valley News Network) and Taking the Satisfy Hunger Campaign to the Next Level (Country Wisdom News)
● Point of contact fielding calls and letters from the community seeking career advice and mentoring
● Art Exhibition Judge for local schools
● Host fundraisers for student’s Design Club travel expenses for international learning
● Production of several promotional videos to bring awareness to both the school’s design program and Applied Learning
● Consulting with arts groups serving underrepresenting communities example: TRANSART which provides programming year-round to infuse art and culture into the civic life of people of African descent along the Hudson River Valley


My scholarship is expressed in conference presentations, press, public exhibitions, video production and recruiting & marketing grant initiatives.


I speak on Applied Learning and education in general and have presented in the U.S. and Mexico. Sample titles include:

"Many Roads Traveled: Career Pathways in the Arts" Panel Curator/Moderator, Women’s Studio Workshop, Kingston, NY - (Scheduled, Spring 2018)

“Real World Classroom Expanded and Unplugged – Applying Where you Live, Where you Learn” - Conference on Instruction and Technology, SUNY Oneonta

“Applied Learning: Next Steps for Collaborative Online Learning” COIL conference, New York, NY

“Real World Experience in a Global Collaboration” The Applied Learning Conference, Niagara Falls, NY & COIL Conference, DePaul University, Chicago, IL

“Using Design Technology in Collaboration” Successful Teaching Conferences, national meeting.

“Preparing Global Designers” Design Incubation Colloquium 4.0: SUNY New Paltz

"Real World Classroom," Design Week, SUNY New Paltz

"Intercultural Collaboration and Social Media," Conference on Instruction and Technology, SUNY Potsdam, NY

"The Road Map App," Hudson Valley Tech Meetup, Kingston, NY

“A Collaboration Between Ulster & Mexico” SUNY COIL Latin American Academy 3, Cuernavaca, Mexico

“YOU + the Classroom that Never Sleeps” Digital Projector + Internet, Upstate Successful Teaching Conference, Syracuse, NY

“How Collaboration Can Work Online” National University Technology Network, Cuernavaca, Mexico

“Your Teaching Presence in Online Courses” Conference on Instruction and Technology, Plattsburgh, NY


I am currently writing a nonfiction book tentatively titled “What You Can’t Get in a Book (How to inspire and motivate students using applied learning)” Publication is set for fall of 2018. This book uses my research and experience in Applied Learning and teaching to provide all sorts of educators with a resource on how to convey life skills that students can carry throughout their lives.

Additionally, I blog on the topic of teaching and teaching technologies at


Provided Applied Learning expertise consultations over two days for SUNY Plattsburgh. Meetings with administrators, staff and faculty.

Additional Exhibitions

The New Museum and Arts Brookfield Project, New York, NY
The Muroff Kotler Gallery, SUNY Ulster "Faculty Exhibition"s and "Cut & Paste"
SUNY Plaza Gallery "Faculty Exhibition"
CHRCH Project Space "Envisioning Community"

Reputation Among Colleagues

"Students and faculty approached me telling me how impressed they were with the presentation and the innovative learning that you are facilitating."
Dimitry Tetin
Assistant Professor of Design – SUNY New Paltz
“The Graphic Design program at SUNY Ulster – under the leadership of Sean Nixon – has grown to be by far the best source in the Hudson Valley for well prepared transfer students to our Graphic Design program.”
Arthur Hoener
Head of Design Program – SUNY New Paltz
"Sean Nixon spends countless hours ensuring that everyone in his program has an equal opportunity for personal and professional enhancement. He is an active part of the campus community, always advocating for students. Sean will meet any student's commitment to his or her education, and then turn the volume up a notch!"
Jim Hobbs
Professor of Psychology, SUNY Ulster

In Summary

In my commitment to our students' success, I strive to motivate them in a way that accelerates their professional experience. As part of my scholarship and service to the college, I have produced many videos that not only give context to students achievements but serve as public service announcements. I am ending my promotion presentation on my most recent video project (please press "play" to the left) as it gives imagery to much of what I have stated above.
- Sean