Definitely Not an Octopus

Professor reflects on the growth of his department and the unexpected writing of his book

by Zach Krauss

Professor Gabe Pyle teaches industrial design students the intricacies of innovation and the art of creation at the International Center for Creativity (ICC) in Columbus. He recently signed a book deal based on one of his T-shirt designs and is excited about the opportunities to come for both him and his students.

Pyle graduated from Cedarville University in 2012 with an industrial design degree. He serves as a professor for Cedarville’s junior and senior industrial design students, who spend the last two years of their degree plan at the ICC focusing solely on perfecting their art through module-style learning.

Gabe Pyle is a children’s book author and adjunct instructor of Industrial and Innovative Design at the International Center for Creativity, Cedarville’s Industrial Design campus in Columbus. [Photo courtesy of Gabe Pyle]

In college, Pyle’s original area of study was art with a focus on engineering. The first cohort of industrial design students began their studies in 2010 and Pyle was asked to switch to the industrial design degree plan.

After graduating in 2012, Pyle worked as a teaching assistant for the ICC while also working on a master’s degree from Minneapolis College of Art and Design in Minnesota. In 2015, Pyle began as an industrial design professor at the growing ICC.

Pyle also uses his art skills through a hobby: T-shirt designing. He began designing shirts in college as way to spend free time while still honing his skills and as a way to earn extra money. Occasionally T-shirt design companies like Shirt Woot or Threadless would come across his ideas and pay him for the ideas.

Threadless was hosting a contest with “disguise” as the prompt, and Pyle began thinking of ideas. Having recently watched the film “Finding Dory,” which includes a character named Hank, who is an octopus, he was inspired.

His concept design, “Twelve Animals (That Are Definitely Not an Octopus),” won the competition and earned quite a bit of popularity not only on the Threadless website, but also on other blogs and websites. Familius Publishing discovered the idea and asked him if he would be interested in working on a book based on the concept. Eventually, Pyle helped produce the book that now features 14 animals (none of them an octopus), and he’s excited that he’s able to share his work with a broader audience through the adaptation of his art.

Gabe Pyle was inspired by the octopus in the Disney Pixar movie “Finding Dory” when creating his children’s book. [Photo courtesy of Gabe Pyle]

Pyle said that while the book deal has been an exciting opportunity for him, one of the things he loves about working at the ICC is being able to work so closely with the students he instructs. He said working so long with the students until they leave after two years with more ideas than even they could imagine is extremely rewarding.

“It’s a bittersweet thing, really,” Pyle said. “I love being able to help these students day after day on the same projects. A lot of times these students are in the same building as me until very late at night, and I get to work very closely with them.”

Senior industrial design major Jennifer Yosinski said she has been impressed by the genuine and caring heart of Pyle and his desire to help students succeed.

“My favorite thing about working with [Professor Pyle] is the overt sense that he understands and cares about who you are as a person and how that affects your work,” Yosinski said in an email interview. “He’s also definitely the best professor I’ve had the pleasure of learning from; nobody clarifies things like Gabe.”

Pyle said developments like the writing of his book are exactly the kind of example he wants to encourage at ICC. He said that the ICC continues to push students not only to be good illustrators, painters, or sculptors, but rather to become solid thinkers who know how to put their ideas into action and work with them in new ways.

“Industrial designers are creators who solve problems, often through their art,” Pyle said, “and I’m always so excited to see how much they can be pushed to do their very best.”

Zach Krauss is a senior pharmacy/music double major from central Texas and campus reporter for Cedars. He loves music, theatre, biology, community, and meeting new people.

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