My name is Ken

…but you can call me Ken.

About Me.

These types of pages are always difficult to write. Although there is a temptation to discuss myself in the third-person, I have never felt comfortable doing so. It feels almost like I'm writing my own obituary or filling out a profile on a dating site. Two things that I don't ever want to do.

 

My name is Ken Curtis and I live and work in Dubai, UAE as a professor of visual communications at the American University in Dubai. I teach graphic design, Web design, and all the software that the students will need to accomplish both. I've been in Dubai for three years and will be here for at least one more.

My Biography: I was born in New Jersey and raised in Portland, Oregon until I enlisted in the US Air Force at eighteen and got married to a great girl at nineteen. The Air Force stationed me in Clovis, NM and my wife and i stayed there until my four years were completed. From Clovis, we moved back to Portland and in a few years were divorced. For about eight years after my wife and I split, I spent my time in Portland just trying to figure out what I wanted from life and more importantly how do I attain it. That really was the hardest question, because I knew that I wanted to get a college degree, but I really didn't understand how to do it. In the end I decided not to "think" about it and to make a decision, any decision, and to stick by it. I decided to sell my house to pay for my degree in graphic design. It was a defining moment, because I don't think I had one person say that it was a good idea. In fact if I remember it correctly people told me I was being silly, stupid, or naive. The reasons varied, but it seemed that I was just plain wrong about a degree. Like I said I believe at this point I started to understand myself, because I put my head down and pushed forward with my plans.

I moved back to New Mexico to go to Eastern New Mexico University. It took me three quick years to get my degree in graphic design and a minor in computer animation. More importantly, I can honestly say that it was the first time in my life that I felt like I was home. I still consider it home now, even though I haven't lived in NM since 2004. Once I graduated I was preparing for grad school and one of the profs at ENMU quit, I volunteered to help out and was hired as adjunct faculty. Like I said, I loved NM, the weather was great, but most of all, the people are the best. How many recently graduated students get to teach right after they graduate? I taught at ENMU for four years.

In 2005 the time had come to get my MFA so I could actually become a professor. This decision was based on the statement that a friend made to me at lunch. She said, "An MFA really won't help your art that much, but it will open doors for you." She was so right, and I think it was the most important thing that anyone has ever said to me. So I moved to the nearest university that I could, and started in August 2005. In 2006 I earned an M. A. and in 2007 an M.FA in computer art with a minor in printmaking. Before I graduated, I was putting out applications around the world for teaching jobs, and in April was hired by AUD. In other words, probably the best "door" opened for me.

I received my MFA August 10, and left for Dubai August 17 and have been here since. I've wanted to travel for a while, and because of that, I wanted to be in a central location and Dubai has been perfect. Since I've been here, I've traveled to over fifty-five countries and have seen and done things that I never dreamed I would get a chance of seeing. Red Square, The Great Wall, Hagia Sofia, riding camels in Mongolia, sipping beer in an open-air cafe in Hanoi, and the list goes on, wandering through Petra, safari through Kenya, volunteering in Sri Lanka, and okay, that's enough. To think that I owe most of this to one person telling me that an MFA will open doors. Thank you Mic, you changed my life!

The Future: For now I'm going to say that the future is open, I know that I'll be teaching here in Dubai until June, but after that I just don't know. There are several "substantial" things that I still want to do with my life, like volunteer in Africa for at least a year, but I can only do that if other elements in my life fall into place. I don't see myself moving back to the states for a while, maybe not ever, but who knows?

1000 Things to do Before I Die

Okay, so maybe not 1000 things, I've already done a few of them already, like getting all my degrees. Each one was a goal that I set and each was achieved. So let's just say, some of the things I want to do before I die. And no, I'm not planning on dying for a while, it's more of just a play on the books entitled, "1000 things you should see before you die." There are some things on my list that for all my life I've wanted to do but are so expensive that they become cost prohibitive so I may never get the opportunity. Other items take time, some, lots of time which can also be very difficult to manage. Either way though I feel that all my goals, or possibly a better term could be dreams, are attainable. That is except for me ever growing dreadlocks, they would look so silly on me, but I think they are so cool. :)
 
1. Watch a sunset in Morocco 2. Learn to fly 3. See Nepal
4. Get a Phd. 5. Visit Petra 6. Take a tramp cruise
7. Write a book 8. Take a paraglide vacation over a desert 9. See Red Square
10. Visit India 11. Get another tattoo 12. Lose about 15 lbs
13. Wander through Africa 14. Own/live on an island 15. Row across the Atlantic
16. Do my own Motorcycle Diaries 17. Volunteer for at least 1 year in Africa 18. Buy a motorcycle
19. Grow dreadlocks 20. Spend some time in Australia 21.  

 

Being a Teacher.

In my early years I never could have imagined that I'd end up being a professor. Growing up I 'knew' that I was going to be an airline pilot. It's funny how lives change as we get older.

My Artist Statement:

I consider art to be an expression, an attempt to connect with an observer the thought, feelings and/or desires that come from within the artist. Traditionally this connection is usually subtle, suggesting the emotion rather than telling. This lack of urgency is brought on by the fact that fine art is not concerned with size since the final dimensions are dictated by the final product, and ultimately fine art is meant to be hung from a wall or displayed to give the observers all the time they need.

Graphic design and digital media on the other hand do not have this luxury. They are forced to make a statement and persuade the observer quickly. The graphic artist may have only a page in a magazine, a few seconds while a car speeds by a billboard, or possibly merely a glance as a shopper decides which cereal to purchase to make the desired statement.

I consider my art to be somewhere in between the two, there is an urge to communicate the thoughts and emotions that guided me in my artistic choices quickly, but not too quickly. I attempt not only to confuse but also to surprise the viewer by hiding my message. I do this by combining different elements, often these elements are chosen for merely aesthetic choices added soley for the purpose of masking the subject. It’s important though that I add enough information that the viewer can see that the piece does indeed have something to say, and that the viewer also realizes the burden of understanding is placed solely on him.

As I mature as a designer, I’ve come to understand the requirement that a graphic designer should first be an artist to be a truly successful designer. Without a knowledge in artistic movements, drawing, and artistic fundamentals, most layouts and products will lack creativity.

One of the most important elements that all artists require is the input and influence of other artists and designers. I’ve come to look forward to insightful and intuitive criticism. Whether this input comes from colleagues or students, as long as the input is constructive, it is welcomed.

Countries I've Been To

So yeah, I know it's a little vain to post something like that here, but it's been a dream of mine to travel around the world and experience all the countries that I've wondered about. There are so many countries with so many diverse cultures, and so little time. Yeah it is vain, but I want to celebrate the fact that I've been lucky enough to see at least a part of the world.
1. United States (Born & Raised) 2. Canada 3. Mexico 4. Lithuania
5. United Arab Emirates 6. Spain 7. Oman 8. France
9. Egypt 10. Russia 11. Mongolia 12. Austria
13. Thailand 14. Laos 15. Vietnam 16. Czech Republic
17. Estonia 18. Latvia 19. Poland 20. Turkey
21. Italy 22. China 23. Jordan 24. Lebanon
25. Kenya 26. Romania 27. Bulgaria 28. Albania
29. Macedonia 30. Ukraine 31. Montenegro 32. Hungary
33. Bosnia/Herzegovina 34. Sri Lanka 35. Greece 36. Finland
37. Sweden 38. Germany 39. Belgium 40. Netherlands
41. England 42. Scotland 43. Morocco 44. Portugal
45. Monaco 46. The Vatican 47. Myanmar 48. Cambodia
49. Malaysia 50. Philippines 51. Singapore 52. Hong Kong (China-SAR)
53. Macau (China-SAR) 54. Australia 55. India 56. Nepal