Michelle Kobold: ‘I’ve kind of come full circle and I just love that’

Photo of Michelle Kobold sitting at her home10 years ago the unthinkable happened. Michelle Kobold was laid off from her position at Western Oregon University. Kobold was already living in Albany, so she decided to enroll in Linn-Benton Community College’s Visual Arts Program. “I’m just like, it’s the perfect opportunity to just jump in and do it,” Kobold said. “I am so grateful I did that because it has helped me in so many different ways career-wise.”
Kobold had actually wanted to enroll in the program for a while, but there was one thing that kept holding her back. You had to draw. “I was petrified to start the design program,” Kobold said. “I was so horrible at drawing.” 
Luckily the director at the time, John Aikman someone she still considers a mentor, talked her into enrolling anyway. And Kobold didn’t just survive her drawing class, she thrived in it. “I got into drawing and I realized how much I loved that aspect,” Kobold said. “It just kind of brought out a lot of creativity from me, and I love that part.”
At this point in her life, Kobold had two other degrees from the University of Montana. A bachelor’s degree in marketing and an associate’s degree in entrepreneurship. But this one was her favorite. “I liked how much we were challenged,” Kobold said. “We were never given A’s, we were given really low grades because if you have an A, you can’t improve. I know it sounds like that’s horrible to be critical of the work, but it helped us improve substantially. I’m really grateful for that.”
During her time in the program, Kobold took a tour of a local Albany business, Oregon Web Press. Little did she know that four years later she’d be working there. Her title with Oregon Web Press is Business Development Representative, but she still gets to be involved with the graphic design part of the business. 
“I’m not actually doing any graphic design work that applies to the schooling, but I’m kind of helping oversee the marketing and graphic design for the company,” Kobold said. “So in a weird sense, I feel like an art director or a design director sometimes.”
While a lot of people might shy away from critiquing someone else’s work, Kobold loves it. “It’s so awesome because I feel like I’m actually John [Aikman],” Kobold said. “I see things that they don’t see in their design work and we just kind of sit there, work together, and bounce ideas off each other until we kind of come to a design that works. I hate saying that I love critiquing people’s work, but I think it’s a great thing to do.”
Now Kobold has taken her critiquing back to the classroom. Last spring she taught her first class at LBCC. “I had never taught a class in my entire life and so I was freaking out to teach the class last spring,” Kobold said. “And as you can imagine, COVID hit, so I had to basically learn how to do everything online. So it was extremely challenging for me. When I wasn’t working, I was doing school.”
Balancing work and teaching last spring was a lot, but Kobold wouldn’t trade it for anything. “I wanted to give back to the program because I felt like they gave me so much,” Kobold said. “I’ve kind of come full circle and I just love that.”
Kobold has already started preparing for her class this spring and she hopes to help her students as much as her teachers helped her. “They taught us the fundamentals and had us apply them to real-world experience by working with actual clients,” Kobold said. “We learned a ton from those experiences. I wouldn't be in my current job or teaching at LBCC without that program.”