Award-winning illustrator, cartoonist named head of Penn State Graphic Design

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Joel Priddy, associate professor of graphic design, has been named the head of the Stuckeman School’s Department of Graphic Design in the Penn State College of Arts and Architecture, effective July 1. A member of the graphic design faculty since 2012, Priddy served as interim head of the department from July 2023 to December 2023 before going on sabbatical this spring.

Priddy is known as a celebrated illustrator and cartoonist, having won the Lighthouse Award for Debut Book and an Ignatz Award for Outstanding Debut for his work “Pulpatoon Pilgrammage” in 2002. He was featured in “The Best American Comics 2006” for his work “The Amazing Life of Onion Jack,” which also earned an Ignatz Award nomination for Outstanding Story in 2005.

Priddy was honored with an Eisner Award for Best Anthology in 2003 for his work “SPX 2003 Anthology” and received multiple Eisner Award nominations, including Best Anthology (2013 and 2003) and Best Single-Issue of a Comic Book (2012). The film adaptation of his story, “The Long, Slow Flight of the Ashbot,” was awarded Best Sci-Fi Film at the 2015 Berlin Short Film Festival and was also an official selection for both the Boston Sci-Film Festival in 2016 and the Fantastic Planet Film Festival in Sydney, Australia in 2015.

“Joel led the Department of Graphic Design skillfully last year, and we are thrilled he will serve in this role on a permanent basis,” said B. Stephen Carpenter II, Michael J. and Aimee Rusinko Kakos Dean in the College of Arts and Architecture. “As an educator, researcher and creative practitioner, he is committed to collaborating with colleagues across the University to provide discipline-specific opportunities for design students, as evidenced by the Evanisko Project. Now, in this leadership role, that commitment to the student experience will guide him as department head.”

As an educator at Penn State, Priddy has taught first-, second- and fourth-year graphic design studio courses as well as graduate-level art courses. He has also served on thesis committees and oversaw the teaching activities of graduate students pursuing their master of fine arts in art with a concentration in graphic design.

He is a co-principal investigator for the Evanisko Project, a three-year, $100,000 collaborative project with Penn State Libraries to feature the work of graphic design students in a prominent public place in the University Libraries. The project was funded by the Evanisko Collaborative Grant in 2021.

Priddy said he is excited to lead the graphic design department as it expands its faculty, implements a new curriculum and establishes a new graphic design research lab within the Stuckeman School’s Hamer Center for Community Design.

“I am so pleased to be granted the opportunity to represent a department that I have held in such esteem for so long,” said Priddy. “Graphic design has never been a more vital discipline, creating the means by which humanity navigates an increasingly complex culture and environment. Our incredible students, faculty, alumni and collaborative partnerships, both within the University and beyond, position us to continue Penn State Graphic Design’s 53-year history of preparing global leaders in the field.”

In addition to his numerous awards, Priddy has several graphic novels and comics to his name including “First There Was Chaos” (Uncivilized Books), The Gift of the Magi (Harper Collins), The Preposterous Voyages of IronHide Tom (AdHouse Books) and Pulpatoon: Pilgrimage (AdHouse Books).

“Joel has showcased his agile leadership during his interim term as department head last fall. His commitment to advancing the graphic design department and fostering collaboration across disciplines and communities perfectly aligns with the Stuckeman School’s mission,” said Chingwen Cheng, Stuckeman School director. “We warmly welcome Joel back to the school leadership team and eagerly anticipate integrating graphic design as a cornerstone of the Stuckeman School’s 2025-2030 strategic plan and beyond.”

Prior to joining the faculty at Penn State, Priddy served as an associate professor in the Memphis College of Art from 2002 to 2012. He also taught at Virginia Commonwealth University as an adjunct professor and later a visiting assistant professor in the School of the Arts.

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