Shannon McNamara Associate Dean | Graphic Designer | Educator | MBA

Artist's Statement

Acrylic paint, pen and ink, graphic design... what do these have in common? To the casual observer, not much. To me, they represent the path art has taken me in my life. I started painting with acrylics at an extremely young age. My great-aunt was an artist. That was her job title. To me, that was fascinating! Her pictures hung in our house. She was so daring and well dressed, she seemed to glide when she moved. She was the coolest. That was exactly what I wanted to be.

I didn't come to have my talent naturally, I really had to work at it, especially with painting. I still feel this way to this day. I worry I play it safe. I worry this hurts me artistically. Pen and ink felt more natural. By high school I started to experiment more with pen and ink, drawing first in pencil and then spending hours and hours filling in with tiny dots, ever present in the way they shaded the piece!

By junior year of high school, and this was in the mid-1990's, Photoshop 2.0 was available in the computer lab. I was hooked. But what did this mean? Possibly a path to a career in art? Yes! I spent the next twenty years honing this skill, working at it, finding ways to keep up with trends, to develop my own style, to hone my style.

Now I spend time trying to teach others what I know, while also learning everything I can learn from them. Learning is a lifelong activity. I cannot stress this enough. When we stop learning and growing as an artist, we might as well hang it up! We will never know everything there is to know, even as educators. Keep learning, keep growing, keep doing what you do!

So what next?

I have been using social media as a way to engage with students. It is a new medium in which to collaborate, reach those that might not be able to travel to school, but still want to learn and explore. I have found that reaching out this way keeps students eager to learn and wanting to be part of a community bigger than themselves, and bigger than just school.

My ultimate goal is continue to learn, possibly by going back to school for my Doctorate in education. Because again, once you stop learning, you might as well hang up your brushes and mouse!

2021 Projects

Photoshop to Acrylic work - coming soon.

Teaching Philosophy

I am a capable instructor who can confidently plan, prepare and deliver engaging and inspiring lessons that will excite pupils to think about Art outside the confines of paper and pencil. I possess a strong subject knowledge and love of the arts. I have been working as a Graphic Designer since 1998 and understand that Art can lead to a fulfilling career if taken seriously and developed. I plan to deliver a level of excellence to my students each day and nurture their passion to be creative and innovative. I am looking for a long term position with a school that possesses the same high standards I hold myself accountable to.

Teaching and advising

  • Independence University - 2016-Present
  • The Ogburn School - 2014-Present

Professional experience

  • KELEKTIVE - 2014-2016
  • Benjamin Moore - 2012-2014
  • SuperCoups - 2003-2012
  • The Standard-Times - 1998-2003


  • University of Connecticut - B.A. Summa Cum Laude - 2014
  • Independence University - M.B.A. Summa Cum Laude - 2019

5-Star Reviews

Shannon went above and beyond when helping me during the roughest point in the course of my education here. I came very close to leaving Independence University, thanks to her, I graduate in a little over a week!

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

In this passion for IU short essay I would like to write about Shannon McNamara, She’s a wonderful Instructor, very comprehensible. I have had a lot of health problems recently, and while I have done my best to see and be part of everything in the courses, I often miss out. The way the courses are set up, and the way the instructors speak and teach is very helpful, I still manage to get and learn all the information with the recordings, and media provided. Shannon especially is very understandable and teaches in very intelligible language, that makes it easy to learn. I really appreciate hers and all the other teachers’ efforts to help us students learn.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

She was a very good instructor! I truly appreciated her assistance with each and every student that needed help! She was able to one on one work with me on my assignments that encouraged me to get a better grade. She was a great, vibrant, and knowledgeable speaker. Most important, she was persistent in making sure that we entered our assignments in a timely manner. She continued to remind us of due dates and offered help throughout the course.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

The assignments were very good examples on how to use InDesign. I wish I had learn the other courses with this instructor. I would have learned more in PhotoShop and Illustrator with this instructor. Ms. Shannon was able to review the assignment during her lecture and immediately answered all our questions. If there was someone that needed more help, she offered to stay longer with them to assist them in any way that should could. She is the perfect online instructor for Graphic Design and I am sure she would be even more exciting as an On Campus Instructor!

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

I found the instructor lectures the most valuable. The lectures were so different from what I’m used to in an online college setting. My professor went over and beyond explaining things and it made it easier to understand the lessons we were learning. I appreciate her thoroughly explaining things the way that she did.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Let me start by saying Shannon deserves a raise for the help she gave me this module. She is the best instructor I have had since starting with Independence University. She went above and beyond to help me when I needed it. She is very knowledgeable with design and InDesign. I really hope to have her as an instructor again. The student success center is a whole other experience. To say that I am disappointed with this service I may not use it again. Trying to get help while I can hear the T.V. on, kids screaming, and the person helping me stop listening to what I am needing to talk to someone else is ridiculous. The worst part is having someone there to help that tells you "I am not good at tabs" well this was a beginners class for InDesign, how can you not know this? It took Shannon 2 minutes to help and like 45min in the student success center for none. Someone needs to start listening to the recordings. I have also been in there when an instructor is helping with a paper as I waited and could not believe what they were telling the student to write. Anyway enough venting, thank you Shannon for all your help.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Shannon McNamara is by far the best instructor I have had thus far in my program. I don't even know how to explain it really. She works out the problem and she explains everything so that you can understand what is being done. In my other course this mod there hasn't been much problem solving with explanation and that has been very frustrating for me. Although we are all this far along in the program, it doesn't mean that we are each equally as proficient as the other students might be and explaining what you're doing as you're doing it or even after you've done it, makes for a better learning experience. In her lectures, Shannon more than explains what she's doing, she even provides alternatives so that you have options when working on your assignment.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

I have enjoyed this class so much. I started at IU for graphic arts but I feel like I may have more courses to add when I'm done. Web Design has been so enjoyable and exciting. Going through each assignment and assessment and seeing how everything goes together and comes alive has been so awesome. And, again, without Shannon's help and patiences I don't think I would've enjoyed the course as much.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

In this course, I was always really intrigued by the live videos and I felt that they were ALL highly productive. Shannon also did a lot of multi sessions- I didn't make many- but the few that I did, I was really happy about because it really pushed my project that much further. Adobe XD was an entirely new program for me and it was giving me A LOT of trouble but coming into the live sessions and watching the live sessions were really useful and I was able to pull through. I believe the amount of attentiveness that Shannon provided was the most valuable thing that I got from the Live sessions because she was just really in there and just was constantly trying to be as helpful as possible.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Any time I need her she is always there. I feel like she cares very much about my grades and how I’m doing. She helps me stay in track and makes sure that I am able to complete my classes. I truly feel like she wants to help me succeed

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Shannon is very experienced in the field I am studying and knows what she is talking about. She is one of the most helpful people I can turn to when I am lost.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

She has been wonderful to have as a resource. She clearly loves what she does, and it reflects in the tools she provides us. Which is ensuring our success. Fortunate resource to have. Plus she has the students perspective.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

I learned a lot from Shannon when I was in her class! It honestly was her class that made me realize this is what I want to go into! ♡

Check out my other Spark pages!

~Personal Work~

Graphic Design • Photography • Pen and Ink • Mixed Media • Acrylic Painting

Visiting Artist Proposal

My proposed project is an installation that streams live all graphic design demos, artwork being made using pen and ink, and acrylic paint. My goal is to be able to have a space where people can watch live in studio, while also watching live on their devices. In order to facilitate this, I would need a room with a Mac, monitor, four to five webcams and a space for those to stand or sit.

I would also love to use this as the opportunity to rebuild my physical portfolio of work. In 2015 our house was lost to a fire with all my artwork from the last twenty-five. All that survived is the large pen and ink self portrait I created in 2003.

I would welcome others to bring their laptops and come work with me on design projects. I would open the space to those who wish to come in and grab a seat and bring something to paint with me. I would love someone to bring in an ink well and calligraphy pen. I think this could be more than just an Artist in Residence, it could be a community learning program!

Learning does not need to begin and end in a classroom. This opportunity could open up a fresh, new medium of learning through art. I would welcome other artists to showcase their talents and if they would like use this platform and space to promote themselves! The art and design community should set an example of how we can lift each other up.

Created By
Shannon McNamara


Created with images by Denis Degioanni - "I took this shot in a middle of “the vallée des merveilles” in the south Alps. I couldn’t see anything neither hear a single sound, everything was so quiet and so dark. But gradually I started to hear a breath, a whisper. And I think for the first time in my life I heard the stars sing." • Yeshi Kangrang - "reflect through" • Adrian Pelletier - "A portrait shot of the Milky Way galaxy, a view that never gets old."