Don and Rachele discuss their teaching experience and how they got into teaching in the first place.
Don Mock 0:19
Allright, episode 57. We’re back. We’re back with our special guest. Rachele’s back as well say hello, Rachele.
Rachele Mock 0:25
Don Mock 0:26
All right. So Rachel popped over and I said, Hey, let’s do a quick pod. Real quick. The backstory here is that we have a pretty big library, I’d say, of books here in the office. We’ve been doing this a number of years and sort of started this, I don’t want to say pre -nternet, but sort of spanning two eras. We used to buy a lot of books, a lot of design books, a lot of anthologies, a lot of annuals, a lot of best of this and that. Print magazine was rocking back in the day and things like that. Over the years, we have compartmentalized the books that I have acquired, the books that you have acquired, and the books that we have required over here at the office. Too many design books at the house, right?
Rachele Mock 1:08
Don Mock 1:10
There’s a book here called Logo Design Love: A Guide to Creating Iconic Brand Identities from David Airey. This is a book that evidently you used to use to teach from. Is that a correct statement?
Rachele Mock 1:22
Don Mock 1:23
Rachele Mock 1:24
And David Airey’s a really nice guy. I reached out to him to tell him, I was using it for one of my courses. I think he sent me a digital copy of another edition.
Don Mock 1:35
Nice. So for whatever reason, must have been starting a project or whatever is happened… grab this book off the shelf, and boom, lo and behold- I’m about to embarrass you, it’s what’s about to happen. Lo and behold, what fell out of this book, but a lovely card, which is dated from the winter of 2010. So 13 years old, I’m gonna read this card to you, then I’m gonna ask you to react. How about that? Sounds good.
Rachele Mock 1:59
Don Mock 2:01
What’s about to happen? I can see the nerves. Alright. Dear Rachel. And this ties into what I think we should talk about today, I think is interesting.
Rachele Mock 2:09
Don Mock 2:09
So dear Rachele, thank you for being an incredible resource of information and such an inspirational teacher! Exclamation point. I hope to always continue to explore and push my boundaries and look forward to our paths crossing after graduation. Respectfully yours, and I’ll leave the student out. But what a fantastic little note here. I mean, it’s great that you tucked this into a book only to be found. I’m handing it to you right now. Only to be found 13 years later.
Rachele Mock 2:36
Well, it’s wild. Something I remember about this student was… so in 2009, you and I went to Memphis for the AIGA conference.
Don Mock 2:47
Rachele Mock 2:48
These sappy note cards were a sappy giveaway. So I wrote many a note on these. My student was there. I remember seeing her a bit. I believe she was volunteering.
Don Mock 3:01
Rachele Mock 3:03
That’s really cool… she had beautiful handwriting.
Don Mock 3:09
I know. What’s so funny is the handwriting is all lovely, beautiful cursive. And I’m sitting here thinking our children probably wouldn’t be able to read that. Because they aren’t taught cursive anymore. Which ties into today’s topic, I think which is teaching. Potentially, our teaching experiences, and why we got into teaching. So having a note like this, which is great. Kudos, round of applause. Such an inspirational teacher. I, of course, have known this for years.
Rachele Mock 3:35
Don Mock 3:35
But I guess putting you on the spot. The concept of teaching. Why did you get into teaching in the first place? What made you want to get into teaching, I guess?
Rachele Mock 3:46
By teaching you mean teaching graphic design.
Don Mock 3:49
Yeah. Teaching graphic design at a graduate level. At a college level.
Rachele Mock 3:53
Yeah. At the university.
Don Mock 3:56
Long dramatic pause.
Rachele Mock 3:57
I don’t… Yeah, that is a long dramatic pause.
Don Mock 3:59
Well, it’s kind of an intense question.
Rachele Mock 4:01
What I’ve told people, so this must be true.
Don Mock 4:05
Rachele Mock 4:05
Oh, God, do I always talk about my parents on this podcast? My dad-
Don Mock 4:13
Shout out Kathy and John.
Rachele Mock 4:14
Kathy and John.
Don Mock 4:15
Rachele Mock 4:17
My dad was an executive for Xerox. And one of the things, he had an MBA and other degrees. He went and gave, he did what he considered giving back, which was he taught the MBA program or courses for the MBA program at the University of Connecticut nights, after he worked at Xerox.
Don Mock 4:42
Rachele Mock 4:43
Not every night or anything, but you know, once or twice a week.
Don Mock 4:45
Yeah, he was like an adjunct professor.
Rachele Mock 4:47
He was and and I was little, I mean. He did it up until we were in college. I think maybe he taught more once we were in college, because he was retired then. I just thought that was really neat. I liked how he spoke that working professionals could really help students learn the real deal.
Don Mock 5:13
Rachele Mock 5:14
So I had been working in a churn and burn space for a long time. I always wanted to go to grad school. So one of the only reasons to go to grad school in design, yes, you further your education, but it is so that you are accredited to teach it your university level. So that was my goal. So I felt like it was a way to give back to people who had given to me Yeah.
Don Mock 5:47
Okay. Wow, what a great answer.
Rachele Mock 5:48
Oh, thank you. Thank you.
Don Mock 5:50
Are you gonna ask me the same question? Because I taught, too.
Rachele Mock 5:53
Yes. And guess what, guess who taught before me? You did!
Don Mock 5:59
Did I? Actually, did I start that before?
Rachele Mock 6:01
Yes. Early days, when we were married before we had kids, you started. Then I feel like, oldest was born. We were in the hospital and you had to go teach that night or the next night? I don’t know if you called it in or, or you went. So will you tell everybody your teaching experience? Because it’s very different from mine.
Don Mock 6:27
Rachele Mock 6:27
But if people are looking to become design or advertising professionals, who don’t necessarily need a grad school degree, the way you taught is a really, it’s kind of a cool process.
Don Mock 6:41
Rob and I’ve briefly mentioned this on previous pods, because he taught as well.
Rachele Mock 6:46
Oh, I didn’t know that.
Don Mock 6:47
Yeah, but I taught. I would consider it just, I mean, I don’t know that it was a teacher, per se or professor or whatnot. But I did teach an adjunct advertising class at the creative circus, which is a two year certificate, program degree at the time, right here in Atlanta. Creative circus, they did graphic design, a lot of advertising stops- could be a copywriter or director or things like that. I believe they also have a photography program, things like.
Rachele Mock 7:12
Don Mock 7:13
Illustration. Yeah. I’m going to call it a portfolio finishing school. Most of their clientele or their students there at that time, were students that had gone to larger universities. I went to the University of Alabama, I went to Tennessee or I went to Georgia. They got that nebulous degree in advertising, but didn’t really go to like a design concentration school, where they come out with like, Oh, I’m a graphic designer. It’s a little bit of account service, a little bit of media planning, a little bit of statistics, sort of learning what the industry provides, but not specialties or specifics in the industry itself. So I taught an advertising teams class, which is concepting. Concepting I is what it might have been called. I’m probably bundling, but it was the first time aspiring art directors and aspiring copywriters would get together in teams. And come up with ideas. So I would come in and assign them a project. I’d write a brief- very, very loose brief- and say, hey, here’s the assignment. Company X is trying to sell more Y or whatever. Either trying to very clear call to action, sort of direction things. Then, you know, it’s just once a week. Get together and it’s kind of teaching how to train your brain to come up with big ideas. How to develop strategies, and how to develop what will eventually end up being ads. Things like that. I think I did that for five or six years. I definitely did not do it for the financial payout. I definitely did it for the love and for the fun of it.
Rachele Mock 7:32
Don Mock 8:13
I think we had both been working in the industry for a number of years. and I don’t know that I, I think I started it because I wanted to get out of my comfort zone. I wanted a little bit of a shock to the system for me, because it means Hey, sometimes working at an agency when you’re working for others, you’re working on the same account. I don’t want to say you get in a rut. I’m not being negative about it. But there’s a lot of consistency.
Rachele Mock 9:19
Right! You are in a bubble where you’re working. Similar to you and Rob’s origin story, you see where you’re working, what you wouldn’t do, so maybe you can teach that.
Don Mock 9:34
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. So you know, that school had a team of full time professors that taught all the core stuff. There was a whole nother team of people just like me, outside working professionals, that would come in and tell it like it is.. But hey, This wouldn’t work. It was great. I mean, I very much enjoyed it. It was super fun. Every class was unique and different. I joked, it’s always like improv comedy. It’s kind of what the crowd brings to the show is how good tonight’s performance is going to be.
Rachele Mock 10:06
I couldn’t agree more in teaching any class.
You learn a lot about how to bring down the hammer, but don’t bring down the hammer. How to come on strong and back off. How to sort of deal with common sense and the lack of common sense. I think it was a great thing to do to help me feel a little bit more comfortable leading teams. But then also talking to clients and just sort of being able to think a little bit quicker on the feet, you know what I mean?
Don Mock 10:40
I think I used to get a lot of enjoyment out of… I probably got as much from them as they got from me. So I mean, I’d share as much as I could, obviously, about everything, but I love- going back to basics- not worrying about budgets, not worrying about what can or cannot be done. Just the ideas from students that don’t really get it, that naive in such a great way.
Rachele Mock 11:05
Yes. It’s utopia.
Don Mock 11:08
Yeah, and then trying to help them shape and mold those things into what could become possibilities. I’ve said this on a previous podcast, probably two or three times. I used to tell them, hey, don’t worry about polishing or finishing. It’s all about idea generation. A great idea’s a great idea, whether it’s this amazing $50,000 photoshoot or whether it’s a cocktail napkin.
Rachele Mock 11:33
Don Mock 11:34
Hold on to the great idea. You’re learning the skills to execute, but it’s never too early to generate great ideas that can make it into your portfolio. Then also explaining to them how to build your portfolio for the type of job that you want, things like that. So it was super fun, super fun. But then as things go, and as we had more kids, and a business and things change. The last class that I taught, I knew that it was going to be the last class I taught, which I maybe if you have a little bit of guilt about. Because I was not phoning it in, but not giving it as much as I probably should have I think.
Rachele Mock 12:09
Don Mock 12:10
So I don’t know about it. What was what was your last class like?Because you knew your last class was your last class, right?
Rachele Mock 12:17
Right, I resigned. I wish I could remember what I was teaching. I believe I was teaching corporate identity, which is a class I always really enjoyed teaching.
Don Mock 12:27
You taught corporate identity. What else did you teach? Didn’t you teach type? A lot of typography?
Rachele Mock 12:31
Right? I taught type one, type two. I-
Don Mock 12:35
You taught everything.
Rachele Mock 12:36
Right. When I first came into teaching, they assigned me the portfolio class.
Don Mock 12:42
Rachele Mock 12:42
Because at the time, they saw me as somebody who was coming right out of the industry, but also had a whole wealth of education and connections and things like that, too. Since I had come out of grad school. And I did. I absolutely did.
Don Mock 12:58
Rachele Mock 12:59
You know, I was the young one.
Don Mock 13:02
Rachele Mock 13:02
So I remember teaching portfolio. When you teach portfolio, often teach them about writing their resume and creating their own personal brand as well. So I taught typography portfolio. One of the last courses I taught was Photoshop.
Don Mock 13:20
Rachele Mock 13:22
That was, yeah… I’m not a photographer, so…
Don Mock 13:25
Did you have Lewis Bsker for your Photoshop class in college? Do you remember?
Rachele Mock 13:29
I think so. I believe I remember something called Classroom in a Book.
Don Mock 13:33
Classroom in a Book. I interrupted you.
Rachele Mock 13:36
No, that’s funny. Because on a previous podcast, we were talking about learning on Amigas. and I had Lewis Baker for that, too.
Don Mock 13:42
Oh, my god. That’s so funny.
Rachele Mock 13:43
Super nice guy. Should look him up.
Don Mock 13:46
I think he’s still down there. I think he’s still rocking int.
Rachele Mock 13:48
Wouldn’t you be?
Don Mock 13:49
Yeah, for sure. All right. So you taught everything from basically foundational beginning work type one all the way through the end of the line, which is portfolio.
Rachele Mock 13:57
Don Mock 13:58
So your last class though, because I interrupted you…
Rachele Mock 14:02
Yeah, I believe it was Corporate Identity.
Don Mock 14:04
Rachele Mock 14:05
Don Mock 14:05
Rachele Mock 14:06
Don Mock 14:06
Rachele Mock 14:07
At the time, I had gone down to part time, so I think I was just teaching one class. I would do office hours and that was nice. Listen, something that I love about teaching, for the most part, my students were younger than me there. I had a few more mature students, but I got a lot of energy from them. What would be wild was when I taught night classes and would get home at 11pm.
Don Mock 14:35
Whoa, that late?
Rachele Mock 14:36
Yeah. Cuz the class ended at like 10:30.
Don Mock 14:39
Oh my God, that’s late.
Rachele Mock 14:39
Yeah. and so I’d get home from that at 11 and I’d be so wired, because they gave me a lot of energy.
Don Mock 14:48
But also you’re on. The light switch is on.
Rachele Mock 14:51
You’re on. There’s a bit of a performance in it, often and a song and dance, and preparation. There’s not anything… there’s very few things I did not like about teaching. I absolutely miss it. For sure.
Don Mock 15:09
Yeah. It’s funny. I was gonna ask, if you do miss it or not?
Rachele Mock 15:12
Don Mock 15:13
I don’t miss it. I’m not gonna lie. I don’t miss it. I mean, I enjoyed it. It was a fun chapter of my career, right? I feel like the teaching that I do now is taught here in the office.
Rachele Mock 15:24
Don Mock 15:25
With all of our employees, and by proxy, anybody that comes in.
Rachele Mock 15:29
Absolutey. Well, do you remember when we did the podcast about podcasts?
Don Mock 15:33
I mean, it was a while ago. But sure, sure.
Rachele Mock 15:36
I talked about podcasts being a really good teaching tool. So maybe that’s why I like to come in and bend your ear.
Don Mock 15:43
Rachele Mock 15:43
Or you like me to come in and bend your ear.
Don Mock 15:45
Sure, sure. Any funny anecdotes or things that come right to mind when I- because, again, I kind of sprung this one on you reading this note, so-
Rachele Mock 15:54
Well, twofold. On the positive side, I have been able to keep in touch with students. I’m gonna look the one up who wrote me and see if I can find her.
Don Mock 16:06
That’s awesome. You should take that home, Just take a picture of her.
Rachele Mock 16:09
She was lovely. She was a great student, I kept in touch with a number of students. They still… I got a text like, a few weeks ago, and-
Don Mock 16:21
Rachele Mock 16:21
You know, I thought about you when I was presenting such and such. And you drove this home. And I’ve also had students who were really rough on me, because I was strict about a lot of design rules. I kept saying you have to learn the-
Don Mock 16:36
Learn the rules before you can break them.
Rachele Mock 16:37
You have to learn to walk before you can run, you know, and yeah, you have to learn the rules before you can break them.
Don Mock 16:42
Ah, kids these days, all they want to do is come out running.
Rachele Mock 16:47
Let me tell you all something. I was not a good undergraduate student, myself.
Don Mock 16:54
Rachele Mock 16:54
So the fact that I went back and taught it… I did not take full advantage of my undergraduate degree.
Don Mock 17:02
Wow. Okay, interesting.
Rachele Mock 17:03
That’s why it was cool to go back to-
Don Mock 17:05
- to grad school.
Rachele Mock 17:05
Luckily, I was able to still get a job.
Don Mock 17:08
Rachele Mock 17:09
Yeah. So that’s one of the bonuses, is seeing my students, seeing what they’re doing now. I mean, what they get to work on is blowing my mind. I would like to go maybe work for some of them some time.
Don Mock 17:23
It’s funny, you say that. Not every single quarter or every single class, but I used to joke, “The goal here is for you guys to get out of here and get better jobs than I have.”
Rachele Mock 17:32
Don Mock 17:32
If you take advantage of the circumstances that you’re in. That school was a great finishing school that will propel you to get to where you want to go. If you take advantage.
Rachele Mock 17:43
Don Mock 17:45
To a certain extent, this is a trade school and you have to put in the work. You have to literally put in the hours. There’s no rolling out of bed, getting an A on the math test, and going back to bed. It is a lather, rinse, repeat kind of kind of business, I think.
Rachele Mock 18:02
On an anecdotal note, do you want to tell… didn’t people used to make a note about your last name?
Don Mock 18:10
I don’t remember that. You want to tell this? Because last name is Mock. So everyone would mock us. I’ve heard every single Mock joke there is.
Rachele Mock 18:17
Right. It was like you burned the guy the first day, and then he ended up being one of your best students. He said, You know, I don’t want to mock you… something like that.
Don Mock 18:17
There was there’s always a Wizen Heimer. Every every other quarter, there’s the practical jokester, who’s an aspiring copywriter, who wants to come in strong and stick their claim in the classroom. It was, if you’re gonna go mano a mano here, you’re gonna lose.
Rachele Mock 18:44
Don Mock 18:45
So yeah, I don’t remember the whole story. But there was a guy that came in and made fun of my name. I immediately shut him down in front of everyone and ridiculed him in regards to not being original. I have heard every single joke that there can be. I think, as I mentioned earlier, I found it very interesting teaching that, you can’t come in super soft, and then toughen up. You have to go the opposite way. You have to be a little tough at the beginning. That made sense, because like, Hey, here’s the syllabus, we got to go through these are the reasons why this is, and all that kind of stuff. I mean, there’s definitely some fun stories along the way, but I think really more related to whatever those assignments might have been.
Rachele Mock 19:32
So let me ask you one more question.
Don Mock 19:34
Yeah, hit me.
Rachele Mock 19:34
Is there a teacher or a professor you had that inspired you to become a teacher?
Don Mock 19:36
Totally and you kno, the answer to this.
Rachele Mock 19:42
Is it Bern?
Don Mock 19:43
Yeah, it’s totally Bernerd.
Rachele Mock 19:44
Shout out to Bernerd.
Don Mock 19:45
Yeah. Bernerd K’Nieffe. I had him for three different classes in college. Then we definitely kept a relationship, post college and whatnot, and have stayed in touch and he invited me to Iowa. That’s when I went the entire Iowa State Graphic Design Council, and went and audited them and do all stuff. I always joke with him, every once in a while, Hey, we gotta go do a college, we got to do a tour, we need to do like a speaking thing. We need to go to some college and do he’s the teacher, I’m the student. Even though now we’re older and whatever.
Rachele Mock 20:20
MOCK the podcast goes on tour, he can-
Don Mock 20:24
We’ll have to dial him in and figure out him as a special guy.
Rachele Mock 20:28
That’s be awesome.
Don Mock 20:29
Yeah, so I think he was a great teacher. He was a great teacher, that I learned a lot from. I think it’s a lot of the in-between-the-margins teaching, which I think was very valuable for him. Even to this day, I think a vast majority of his students do appreciate his approach to teaching graphic design. God love him. I mean, he’s a graphic designer through and through. He has an unbelievable-
Rachele Mock 20:56
He’s a working designer still and he teaches.
Don Mock 20:58
Yeah, he has a fundamental appreciation for all things design, which I love, love, love.
Rachele Mock 21:04
I never had a course with him.
Don Mock 21:05
You never had him as a teacher?
Rachele Mock 21:06
I never had him as teacher.
Don Mock 21:08
Oh, God, I couldn’t… I think I had History of Graphic Design with him. I couldn’t remember the other ones. I know, I did have him for three classes. The follow up would be Fati. Obviously. I did love Fati, for me… Fati Bukush is a teacher at SCAD, still to this day. He has the dubious distinction in my career, of giving me the only B in my entire college course. Gave me a B in techniques of graphic design.
Rachele Mock 21:37
How dare he? Did he give you a B or did you earn a B?
Don Mock 21:40
I earned the B. I earned the B. Yeah, how about that? Well said, Teacher will teach. Alright, any other things to wrap us up? I think we’ve I think we’ve babbled on enough.
Rachele Mock 21:49
Now those who can’t teach, and those wo can’t teach, teach gym.
Don Mock 21:56
That’s the famous Jack Black, School of Rock. “Those who can’t do, teach. And those who can’t teach, teach gym.” All right, everybody. Well, hey, you can find us online at mocktheagency.com. On the socials @mocktheagency. Drop us a line and look forward to hearing from you. All right. Thanks, everybody.