Jeremy receives an honorary degree from the School of Advertising Art at commencement

Jessica Barry, President, Jeremy Slagle, and Mathew Flick, Vice President of Education

Jessica Barry, President, Jeremy Slagle, and Mathew Flick, Vice President of Education

On June 3, I was privileged to accept an honorary degree at commencement from the School of Advertising Art.  The administration and faculty at this fine college have become my friends over the years and I'm a proud supporter of what they are doing. I'm excited to see what the future holds as they reopen their doors next fall under a new name: The Modern College of Design.

My family: Faith, Becky, Jeremy and Caleb

My family: Faith, Becky, Jeremy and Caleb

Here is my acceptance speech:

Like many of you, I discovered my joy at an early age through simple tools like crayons and crayola markers, finger paints and popsicle sticks. I was always known as the “art kid” among my classmates and the only place on campus where I felt like I belonged was in the art room. 

I developed my joy in art while in middle school and high school by taking advantage of every opportunity to design or illustrate event posters, theater playbills, class t-thirts,  and youth group summer event flyers. I even created our high school athletic mascot. 

In my career, I have found ways to spread the joy of design with others by using my skills to encourage community by organizing annual art events, co-producing a podcast, planning fundraisers to benefit orphaned children in Southeast Asia and, of course, in working alongside amazing clients. 

Discover, Develop and Spread. Three steps that will help you find your own joy venture.

First, you have to discover the thing that you were made to do. Second, you develop it, you put it into action, you hone your discovery and put it into practice. Third, your curiosity becomes contagious and you spread your joy with others. 

Joy is more than happiness.

It is greater than contentment.

It’s where we find we’re most alive, aware and engaged.

It’s where this thing we call purpose starts becoming real and practical.

Joy is not timid, weak or passive. 

It’s more than a feel-good idea. 

Finding joy requires action. 

It’ll likely be an adventure so buckle up.

In 1995, (back when I had a majestic head of hair) I found the perfect college for me - The School of Advertising Art. It wasn’t too far from home, it was small like the high school I had just graduated from, and it also had a tuition that was within my budget. They wanted me as a student simply because I could draw and that was incredibly exciting to me!

But God’s plan was far greater than my own. The summer before I was to begin at SAA, I landed a design job with a promising career path. The school was gracious when I requested to have my scholarship extended to the following year in case I changed my mind…but I never did. 

Over the following 23 years I kept in touch with SAA, recommended them highly to many students, visited as a guest speaker, attended portfolio reviews, opened my studio for externships and served on their academic advisory board, Let’s just say I’m a fan!

Something incredible happened. An alum, who believed in this little school, decided to make it her own. Jessica Barry figured out a way to spread her joy of design through the very place she developed it.  And by gathering a great team of administrators and faculty who are equally passionate, she has spread that joy with hundreds of students. 

Over the subsequent years, SAA has blossomed. Graphic Design USA Magazine named SAA one of its top design schools — in a group that includes standouts like Yale School of Art and Carnegie Mellon School of Design.

I am impressed by this college, by the people behind the scenes and the quality of graduates they produce. All the more reason I am honored to be awarded this degree. 

To the Class of 2018, congratulations! We made it! What took you two years to accomplish took me 25. 

Thank you to Jessica, Matt, Nathan, Roxanne, Kelley, Brian and many other SAA folks who have become my friends over the years. I’m truly honored to consider myself an honorary graduate of SAA. To my mom and dad, my sisters who always have and still continue to support and encourage me in my work. To Becky, my best friend and wife of 20 years, thank you for being my biggest fan and support. To my two kids, Caleb and Faith for letting me work from our home studio in peace and being my biggest critics. And most importantly, to God, the creator, who designed us to follow his example by finding joy in our work, and creating work that makes this world a better place.  

Graduates, you have discovered and developed your joy, now its time to spread it with the world. Go get em!