Stephen has taught in the Graphic Design program at RIT for 11 years, first as an adjunct, then full-time as a Lecturer, since 2009. He teaches mostly juniors and seniors, in preparation for careers in the graphic design field. His courses include; Advertising Design, Branding & Identity Design, Professional Practices, Senior Capstone, Design Production and Design & Imagery. Stephen oversees multiple independent studies with his students during the school year, serves on the advisory committees of many MFA students and volunteers for several committees within the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences. He calls his position at the School of Design his “dream job.”
Prior to that, Stephen worked in advertising, design and marketing communications his entire career at several of Rochester’s largest advertising agencies and design studios. He also teaches Design & Production in the Wilson School of Communications at St. John Fisher College in Pittsford, NY. Stephen has won numerous awards for advertising art direction, including ADDYs and Telly awards. He and his wife, Gale, operate a marketing design firm, Studio West Design.
Stephen holds a BFA in Advertising Design from Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, with a minor in Painting.
He is a Past President of the Rochester Advertising Federation, where he served on the board of directors for six years. He has also been a board member of Community Care of Rochester, the Greater Rochester Track Club and the Visiting Nurse Foundation. Stephen remains active in the advertising and design community, reaching out to former colleagues often to speak in his classes and offer employment and internships to his students. Stephen has been a frequent guest speaker at area high schools and colleges, including career development lectures at the Rochester City School of the Arts, Nazareth College, Casanovia College and Finger Lakes Community College. He is currently advising the staff at Webster Schroeder High School, in Webster, NY, to tailor their computer and art programs for optimum college preparation.
Stephen is married to Gale Karpel, also a graphic designer, and a father of three. They have a talented daughter, Jenna, who is a freelance writer and theater critic in New York City. Stephen’s son Jeff is a screenwriter, designer and improv actor, and daughter Carrie is a professional organizer, tri-athlete and mother. Stephen has three incredible grandchildren as well. He designed and built them a tree house in 2011. Dog lovers, Gale and Stephen recently rescued a Toy Poodle, named Oliver.
Stephen is a life-long runner, having run 19 marathons, including the Boston, New York City, Dublin, Philadelphia, Ottawa and Toronto Marathons. He enjoys drawing, photography, skiing, hiking and discovering nature. He also shops garage sales, flea markets and eBay, collecting rubber, metal and plastic toy cars from the ‘40s and ‘50s. The uglier the better! He hopes to design and build a tiny house one day.