February 11, 2019

Brandon Hadnot-Walker: Instructor Spotlight, Web & Graphic Design

Meet Brandon Hadnot-Walker, an instructor in the Graphic Design & Web Development program at F.I.R.S.T. Institute. Brandon realized his love for graphics at the early age of eight and admits that he is continuously learning as the industry is ever-changing. Brandon has taken his wide array of experience to the classroom and now aims to inspire his students the same way that family members have inspired him to follow his passion.

A Computer Wiz at the Age of 8

Brandon Hadnot-Walker details that at the age of eight he was putting computers together from scratch using a static mat. By himself he assembled around 20 computers! His mother was very technologically-inclined and the two of them held training classes on how to code websites from scratch using HTML and Notepad – all while Brandon was still a boy. This love for computers has transformed Brandon into the man he is today.


A New Superhero

When asked what inspired Brandon to enter the world of design and computers, he turned to fictional characters. Brandon details that growing up, he loved comics and superheroes… Batman, Superman, Spiderman. He also loved shows like Dexter’s Laboratory. What do all of these characters have in common? They’re all incredibly smart. From watching all of these individuals, Brandon knew he wanted to work hard to be intelligent just like them – a new superhero.


From Videos and Books to an Education

Brandon began researching the ideas of graphic design as a high schooler. He would take the time to watch video demonstrations, read books, and find tutorials on different aspects of design. Once Brandon reached college, he majored in Media Arts & Game Development at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and took off from here! He became a part of online forums and participated in highly rigorous competitions in the industry. He placed in a competition for the best front cover design for the video game Race Driver: Grid. Brandon was also commissioned by Human Head Studios to create a title graphic for the video game Rune, and his designs are still being used in the game and in marketing materials today.


Into the Workforce

Brandon Hadnot-Walker’s first job out of college was at University Center Graphics where he worked on a team of 4-5 designers creating tons of graphics for the school. He says, “This job gave me the high expectations of what it is really like to work for a design company.” After his time at this company, Brandon transitioned to strictly freelance. Living in Milwaukee, Brandon was a well-renowned designer in the Midwest for six years. He would showcase his work on his Behance profile and gain clients in all trades to create graphics and designs. Brandon announces that he will later be launching a brand-new website!


A Student or An Instructor?

Brandon’s journey to F.I.R.S.T. Institute was actually sparked by his second interest in film & video production. Brandon remembers researching film schools in Florida and came across F.I.R.S.T. Institute with an intent to begin his filmmaking education. As he relocated to Florida in search of new opportunities for his design career, he ended up finding a web & graphic design teaching position at our school and the rest is history! When researching the school as a workplace rather than an education route, Brandon said he fell in love with the website and how the school seemed like a small community. He loved how the family atmosphere consisted of such caring and talented faculty that genuinely wanted each student to succeed. From here, he knew he would fit right in.


Loving Life at F.I.R.S.T.

Brandon details that he loves the environment of F.I.R.S.T. Institute; it gets him excited to come to work each day. He loves that everyone is here because of the same passion, and that everything you need is right inside the school. He loves the amount of resources that even staff can utilize to further their individual careers. “F.I.R.S.T. students truly learn from industry professionals.” Brandon also explains he loves that F.I.R.S.T. Institute has a Career Development department – helping students with their resumes, cover letters, interviewing techniques, and job search.


“If You Lead with Love, People Will Do Amazing Things.”

When asked what experience has helped him the most in the classroom environment, he explained a hardship he has had to deal with: his biological father left him. Because of this traumatic experience Brandon explains, “My biological father left me, and because of that I never want to leave any of my students behind. I pretty much never take vacations because I don’t want to miss a day with my students. I want to be here for them always. If you lead with love, people will do amazing things.”

Brandon credits his mother and stepfather’s amazing parenting for teaching him to pursue his passions and love others. His family has inspired him to work hard as they are a group of intelligent individuals: writers, engineers, designers, and more.


The Graphic Design & Web Development Program

The Graphic Design & Web Development program brought Brandon on their team one year ago. Since then, Brandon has found that his favorite part of teaching is learning about students’ dreams and then seeing the light go off when they feel they are working towards it. His favorite project to teach is the Adobe Illustrator vector-based movie poster because it combines his love of film and graphics into one! Brandon’s favorite concept to teach is Adobe Photoshop. He explains that this program is often what makes people fall in love with graphics and is a gateway to all of the other Adobe software programs. Brandon tells that he loves how personalized the Web & Graphic program is at F.I.R.S.T. because, “You learn the rules like a professional, so you can break them like an artist.”


Advice to Students from Brandon Hadnot-Walker

When asked what advice Brandon would give to all of his students he said, “Believe in yourself. Being in a creative field, you’re going to hear voices in your head saying that your work is not good enough or that you can’t do it. But, don’t listen to those voices. Don’t empower them. Believe in YOU.”

He also offers advice to those individuals who are interested in web & graphic design but haven’t made that next step towards their education. “Find the thing that interests you in this world, and then take that love into the classroom to create graphics for your interests. That’s the beauty of F.I.R.S.T. Institute – we let you work based on your passions.”