Homegrown: 2011 Holiday Arts Tour

Homegrown will be a weekly post highlighting our Holiday Arts Tour artists.  NCLAC would like to celebrate the artists living in our own backyard whether they were raised here, relocated, or just like to visit enough to call Ruston home.   This years Holiday Arts Tour will be November 18, 19, & 20th.  Watch here for more information and tour locations. This week's post is about Todd Maggio, Associate Professor at Louisiana Tech University in the Communications Design program.


Todd Maggio has spent nearly his entire career in education. After working for a year in the Baton Rouge advertising market Maggio moved to South Texas to work in the public relations office of Texas A&M University–Kingsville. His talent gained immediate recognition and he soon moved to the Texas A&M University Headquarters. Working under the leadership of Chancellor Barry Thompson, Maggio learned the breadth of education’s impact. Through his award-winning work for the Texas A&M System Maggio developed a respect and admiration for the service of its employees and a much deeper understanding of academia’s role in society.

Studying in Seattle at the height of the tech boom Todd turned his attention to usability design and human use issues. Upon completion of work at the University of Washington Maggio accepted a position at Louisiana Tech. Soon after Maggio partnered with friends in Seattle to co-found TrafficGauge a tech start-up dedicated to solving traffic-related problems.  By developing strategies, establishing corporate identity, designing user interfaces, and building a web site Maggio was able to apply his newly formed design philosophies with remarkable success. TrafficGuage was the first service and device of its kind in the United States gaining praise and recognition from a wide range of national. Maggio’s philosophy was reaffirmed by TrafficGauge’s impact on society and the environment. Research confirmed that aside from stress TrafficGauge also reduced an average of 2400 lbs of CO2 emissions per year… per driver.

Following the success of TrafficGauge Maggio has focused his attention on introducing entrepreneurship into the art curriculum. Through interdisciplinary collaboration and the support of an on-campus business incubator courses are being developed that merges business and art. Through such unconventional and real-world investigations Maggio continues to explore the boundaries of design education by pushing students to think outside the cubicle and consider the myriad of opportunities that await them.


As an artist, designer and educator I continually seek opportunities to bring my work and experiences into the classroom to broaden and enrich the learning environment. My personal projects, like my client work, possess an entrepreneurial aspect which I frequently encourage through my teaching. The products or merchandise I produce are either inspired by class assignments or incorporated into lectures and demos – a process that directly benefits my students while shaping my own creative output.

The educational aspect of my work continues beyond the classroom and into the hands of my audience. From the tactile and handmade immediacy of screen printing to the commercial slickness of digital and offset printing my work 'educates' viewers on the methods of its manufacture. By producing objects that people use in their everyday lives I re-infuse the mass-produced object with the vitality and spirit of the artist's hand.


NCLAC:  What do you think about the idea of meaning in art?

MAGGIO:  An artist can only control it up to a point then it is in the viewers' hands to make of it what they will. I think the best an artist can do is understand the symbols that guide the course of every human existence and apply them to the greatest and most meaningful effect.

NCLAC:  What do you think of the current “state” of the arts in our country, state, or region?

MAGGIO: I feel most contemporary work, mine included, lacks substantial 'meaning' and this is something that I constantly struggle with. To me so much art these days has become obsessed with process as a safe refuge from having to step into the deep end of concept and creativity.

NCLAC:  How does creating art make you feel?

MAGGIO: In a very real and literal sense it keeps me from going entirely insane. I have an obsessive compulsive personality – a common trait among designers – and if I didn't have my art as an outlet my life would be consumed by washing my hands and counting hangers in my closet.

NCLAC is supported in part by a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation & Tourism, in cooperation with the Louisiana State Arts Council, Funding has also been provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, a Federal agency.  In addition funding for the Holiday Arts Tour is supported by a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism in cooperation with the Louisiana State Arts Council and administered by the Shreveport Regional Arts Council