Hello! I’m Jeff Joiner, an Associate Professor of Practice, Co-chair of the Graphic Design Program, and Director of FourDesign, a student-run, faculty-led design studio, in the School of Visual Arts at Virginia Tech. Prior to joining Virginia Tech in 2014, I taught design and art direction at the University of North Texas while pursuing an MFA in Innovation Studies with a Concentration in Design Research. I also have 20+ years of professional experience as an art director and designer (with occasional stints as an illustrator, copywriter and creative director) for agencies and studios in Dallas, Austin, Los Angeles, Memphis and Jackson, MS. I’ve collaborated with interdisciplinary teams on print, online and broadcast projects for local, national and international clients, and through these experiences I’ve learned the multitude of ways in which clients perceive the role of design in diverse professional environments. That knowledge now informs every facet of my role as a design educator.

In my current role as a professor of practice, I endeavor to bring industry-relevant instruction into every class, with a particular focus on the importance of developing human-centered connections with all stakeholders that lead to deeply meaningful outcomes. As the director of a student-run design studio, this focus is of particular value. FourDesign is both a course and a working studio, where a small team of handpicked design majors work directly with clients and their customers, learning the “language of business,” the importance of interdisciplinarity, and the potential of design to make a positive impact on the world we live in. Earlier this year I received some unexpected recognition for my work with FourDesign and was honored with the 2021 “Advertising Person of the Year” award, presented by the Western Virginia chapter of the American Advertising Federation.

As a researcher, much of what I do dovetails with my teaching. One area of focus is on the discovery, practice and critical analysis of the ever-increasing range of skills needed for successful relationships between designers, collaborators, clients, and the communities we are designing for. As a result, I am able to create the kinds of teaching strategies and experiential-learning opportunities that provide students with the tools needed for those interactions. Understanding the factors that influence how audiences perceive and interact with design enables designers to become strategic partners with clients, actively participating in helping them create relationships with their customers instead of just providing a creative service. I also actively seek out transdisciplinary collaborations with teams of faculty researchers and industry professionals, with the overarching goal of effecting positive change for a range of communities. Recent grant proposals I’ve been involved in have addressed topics such as consumer perceptions of poultry welfare during food production, recycling construction waste, lead detection in drinking water, and recovery housing for families impacted by addiction. 
Academic and professional service engagements provide opportunities to use my background and expertise in a variety of contexts. Some examples include serving as an invited panelist, grant proposal reviewer, and portfolio reviewer for the American Institute of Graphic Arts, and as a team mentor for Make a Mark, a local design and development marathon benefiting Virginia nonprofits. I also serve on several advisory boards and committees at Virginia Tech, such as the newly-formed Experiential Learning Committee, the Human-Centered Design Interdisciplinary Graduate Program Executive Committee, the Office of Undergraduate Research Advisory Board, and the College of Architecture and Urban Studies Diversity Committee.

As a practicing designer, I am compelled by the same need that drives my outlook on teaching and research: to understand and connect with the people I collaborate with and the communities I produce work for. Whether the outcome is a new brand, product, service, system or process, there are few things in life as satisfying as creating something that, in turn, creates a positive shift in how humans think, behave and relate to the world around them. My work has been recognized by Graphis, Print, LogoLounge, the US Ad Review, Black Book‘s AR100, the Effies, VOX, ShowSouth and the American Advertising Federation, and my students have won numerous awards at local, regional and national competitions such as the American Advertising Federation Awards, the National Student Show, and the AIGA Flux Awards, and have had work from my classes featured in Luerzer’s Archive, Graphis and Graphic Design USA.

If you need more info or would like to discuss a project, collaboration, or speaking engagement, please send me an email. You can also download my resume (the short version) or my CV (the long version).

Below are a few of the clients I’ve had the pleasure of working with along the way. For a full client list, click here.