Written by Sophie Leopold, photos courtesy of Quentin Crestinu and Jack Geshel
For SCAD graduates, commencement is true to defining a new beginning. Through the Alumni Atelier program, former students continue to foster professional development at SCAD.
“The Alumni Atelier is an opportunity for SCAD alum to return home and experience accelerated career growth, innovate and reconnect with our beloved alma mater,” Tiffani Taylor, Alumni Atelier coordinator. Originally from Utah, Taylor spent her childhood dreaming up ways to expand her world through the arts. At sixteen, a SCAD poster in her high school art classroom answered the calling. “I knew it was home and that was the only place I would attend college,” Taylor said.
Taylor became a member of the SCAD family in 1998, and her creative pursuits have intertwined with the University ever since. “Work hard and keep doing the next right thing,” Taylor said, in advice to the next generation of ambitious bees.
Taylor has worked as a full-time artist for the past twenty years, a career that launched in step with the beginnings of her business during her junior year of undergraduate studies. After earning a BFA in painting, Taylor continued her SCAD education with an MFA in art history. According to Taylor, this phase of learning was all about embracing the positive history of artists making a living by doing what they love.
Eight years ago, she opened the doors of Tiffani Taylor Gallery in Savannah. It started as a space where Taylor’s mixed media paintings and lifestyle collection brand could blossom, then it later invited additional signatures to grace her walls.
In sharing the gallery with SCAD students and alumni, Taylor emphasizes the importance of artists helping other artists. “The Alumni Atelier is the most important role in my life so far, it brings me great joy to bring alumni back into the SCAD fold,” Taylor said. “Everything I’ve learned the last 40 years I can apply it all to helping other artists grow and lead beautiful lives.”
Taylor was once an alumni ambassador at the Lacoste campus herself, in 2015. In December of last year, she took a position to facilitate the program. “President Wallace had the vision for the Atelier. It is her personally funded endowment,” Taylor said. “The Alumni Atelier is a testament to her continued care for alumni, a beautiful testament to her heart and who she is.”
Much of Taylor’s work as a coordinator centers around spreading the word about Alumni Atelier. The role became an exercise in communicating information about the program to 40,000 alumni, in addition to current and incoming students.
“SCAD Bees continue to benefit from the university’s abundant resources, even after they graduate,” President Paula Wallace said. “SCAD grads mentor current students, speak at major SCAD events including SCAD Film Festival and graduation, and SCAD creates hero films about alumni and their work. Since 2015 when I founded the Atelier, I’ve awarded 61 Atelier Ambassadorships. The SCAD Alumni Atelier, like SCADpro Venture Studio or our Career and Alumni Success office, personifies SCAD’s focus on creative careers.”
“President Wallace is a very dear friend and mentor,” Taylor said. “I have learned so much from her, taken those lessons, and applied them to my business and life.” President Wallace’s method of extended alumni support has impacted alumni across a variety of creative disciplines, with each campus tailored to unique interests. Savannah and Lacoste locations are known for hosting makers and artisans, while Atlanta focuses on screenwriters in the spotlight of Georgia’s film industry.
Taylor and five alumni ambassadors called Lacoste home for the 2019 summer quarter. Stayed tuned for their creative journeys in Provencal village life.