Instructor Spotlight: Richard Elmer


Richard Elmer began teaching at FIT in 2002. He teaches in both the lower and upper divisions and also serves as Admissions Chairperson for the Illustration Department. He studied illustration and graduated from School of Visual Arts in NYC where he has lived and worked as a professional illustrator for over 35 years. He spent his early years freelancing in publishing and marketing while honing his illustration skills. His strong conceptual style garnered work in major corporate, publishing and advertising markets.


Prof. Elmer teaches:
HIL 160 Illustration Rendering Techniques

Work by Prof. Elmer

Teaching Philosophy:
We build our skills one painting at a time, so every effort plays a role in improving the next work. We must respect our efforts even if the outcome is not what we intended. Creating art can be broken down into a process but it is not a science. Science follows formulas, which produce the same outcome every time. Artist, employ patience and persistence to develop skills to rely on. Refine your craft to bringing your vision to life.

On Precollege Programs:
As Chair of Admissions for the Illustration Department I have seen the benefits of the Precollage Programs first hand. I review a lot of work from all over NY State, neighboring states, even other countries. I can say without a doubt that these programs offer a significant leg-up on the standard portfolios I see. Artwork often conveys a broader sense of awareness and sensibility in subject matter, media, even the presentation of the work.

Industry Experience/Recent Exhibitions:
Robert Wood Johnson Annual Report Paintings, Strathmore Paper, Concept Artist, PSP Sports/Nike, Nestlee and Becks. Time Life / Books for Young Readers. Head Creative/VortechX Technologies. RX Illustration Award of Excellence.

Works by Prof. Elmer:










Instructor Spotlight: Den Ly

Den Ly was born in a refugee camp outside of Bangkok, Thailand during the time of Cambodian genocides. As a young child, his family moved to Florida to pursue the American dream. Den spent most of his teen years immersed in the underground indie scene participating in art, music, skating, surfing, competitive Jujutsu, and mix martial arts. After a career-ending knee injury, Den returned to Cambodia to teach and happened to meet an artist of bespoke shoemaking who influenced his footwear career today. He returned to the United States to study Accessories Design at FIT and currently designs hybrid dress shoes with a dash of performance and an emphasis on sustainability. His goal is to open an accessories think-tank based in NYC with factories in New York and Cambodia, promoting American-made products and international trade with a cause.

Instructor Den Ly teaches:
HLD 031 Sneaker and Performance Footwear Design 

Teaching philosophy:

Learning is the most crucial part of human interaction. Students should be able to learn in an environment that cultivates free thinking and respect for the design process. I like to show them that there are many avenues through which one can reach their goals. We are all different, and these differences truly make us special and contribute to making our art unique. It takes a lot of work, but finding a special connection witch each student enhances the ability to bring out their greatness.

On Precollege Programs:

Precollege Programs prepares you for what is expected at the next level of education and potentially, the work field; it’s a gateway to adulthood! I enjoy the idea of teaching good fundamentals needed to succeed in life and the design world. My goal is to help guide students to achieve the best result of one’s capability without the added pressure that most of them face in their academic environment. Emphasis on hard work and self-respect teaches students confidence much needed in the competitive college and industry environment!

Industry Experience/Recent Exhibitions: 




FIT Sewing Portfolio Tips

1. Are your hems straight and loose threads clipped? Neatness and strong basic skills are always highly valued!

2. Closures. Did you push yourself further than just an elastic waistband or tube dress? Have you challenged yourself by using buttons or zippers?

3. Does you garment fit a person or dress form well? It’s all about the fit at FIT! Avoid bumps, puckers and pull-lines.

4. Fabric choices are crucial! Avoid fabrics that show all mistakes, like satin, silk, chiffon, spandex, etc., unless you are fully confident in your ability to sew them.

5. Aprons, pajama pants and circle skirts are typically not considered competitive garments. Select creative garments with several construction pieces or with a tailored fit.

We hope these tips help you choose your best work!

If you want to further develop your sewing skills, explore FIT’s Precollege courses for spring, summer and fall terms:


Instructor Spotlight: Kristy Puchko

Kristy Puchko is a New York-based film critic and entertainment journalist whose work has appeared on Vanity Fair, Nerdist, IndieWire, and many more sites. A small town girl from Pennsylvania, Puchko came to New York to study film at Macaulay Honors College’s Brooklyn College branch, and graduated with a B.A. in Film Studies. After a summer working on Sesame Street, Puchko moved from production to post-production, working on music videos, commercials, and films. From there, she branched out into blogging, and quickly realized her true passion was in writing about cinema in a way that engaged and challenged audiences. Today, her career includes interviewing filmmakers and stars, penning thought-provoking editorials about film and television, and crafting reviews of the latest titles hitting theaters. She’s traveled the world on assignments, trekking to film festivals, press junkets, and visits to movie sets. But she can’t talk about those until the embargoes lift.

See some movie reviews by Kristy:






Teaching Philosophy:

I aim to emulate the learning environments where I grew the most as a student. Conversation is key. I believe the classroom must be a safe space for students to test out ideas and feel free to ask questions. As my work is all about interpretations of art, I don’t believe in a “right” interpretation, just supported arguments and unsupported arguments. Don’t stop at your opinion, dig and tell me how you got there. I want students to treat me as a soundboard, where they can bounce ideas and questions with verve and without fear.

On Precollege Programs:

My first semester of college was a major culture shock, going from a small town to a big city, yet smaller class sizes, and much more challenging curriculums. What I strive to provide to make that transition easier on my students is an introduction to the kind of critical thinking and opinion-based writing that will be put them ahead of their peers. College is a journey where passion finds a focus, but Precollege courses can be a strong first step on that path.


Industry Experience:

Film Critic for Nerdist,, Pajiba
Member of OFCS – the Online Film Critics Society
Member of GALECA – Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association
LA Film Prize Judge (2014-2016)

Instructor Spotlight: Donna Berger

Donna Tartaglione Berger began her career in fashion as a fashion designer and illustrator after graduating from The Fashion Institute of Technology. Her experience in the industry spans fashion design, graphic design, illustration, and CAD implementation. Her design experience includes companies such as: Emanuel Ungaro, Jones NY, Marc Andrew, Larry Levine, S.Rothschild, Members Only, and Donna Karan. After many years of designing in the fashion industry, Donna started her own business and is a successful entrepreneur with an athleisure brand concentrating on today’s trends, fashion forecasting and branding in the world of social presence.

As a designer, educator, and entrepreneur with over 25 years of fashion industry experience, Donna has a proven track record in connecting fashion, creativity, technology and student success as her passion continues to ‘give back’ to her students. Her knowledge and years of experience help students thrive in an environment that is unique and challenging.

She currently teaches part time at The Fashion Institute of Technology and at Parsons The New School of Design.

Donna also volunteers as an artist/photographer for children’s organizations including the Make A Wish foundation and Operation Warm.


Classes Taught:
JSX050: The Fashion Cycle
JSX060: Red Carpet Fashion
JSX 019: Fashion History: Trends Through the Decades

On Precollege Programs:
FIT’s Precollege Program is a wonderful opportunity to teach and introduce students interested in fashion within a college setting.  They get a good feeling from the workshops, campus, people, and all the creativity surrounding them.  I wish these programs were available when I was in middle/high school.  We always have a wonderful time together and I love seeing the smiles, and self-confidence on their faces as we create the projects!

Teaching Philosophy:
I love to work with driven students in a creative, inspiring environment and help them learn the skills they need to move forward.  My students are engaged in personal hands-on projects as they are able to choose a topic of interest and apply the skills we are learning along the way.  I find that when students get to research their own interest, it is a true passion-based learning experience.  It’s amazing to see how they grow through the workshops; artistically and socially.