Erik Palmer




Coach. Mentor. Visual thinker. Visual storyteller. Global connector. Quality listener. Data-driven. Code-friendly. Good runner. Better writer. Learned to swim by jumping into the deep end.


I am Associate Professor and chair of the Communication program at Southern Oregon University, where I teach social media, visual communication and design thinking. I am a Digital First educator who helps students learn, think and be better with new technologies.

With a career spanning both VC-funded and bootstrapped tech and media startups across three decades, my entrepreneurial DNA also informs both the teaching that I bring to my students, and the program-building that I bring to my institution. 

As a scholar of new media, I have explored changes in the culture and politics of image-making motivated by the emergence of visual social media platforms such as Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr.

In my prior role as Creative Director for a commercial photography agency, I built Royalty Free, Rights Managed and Low-Cost collections from 5,000 to more than 50,000 images, simultaneously increasing quality and salability. My role entailed creative direction, art direction, casting, image selection and management of our technical workflow. I also led business development, primarily by launching and managing a global network of more than 50 affiliate resellers.

Ask Me Anything

  • NCAA Division I student-athlete and letter-winner (1983-86)
  • Prototyped an online news website in HyperCard (1990)
  • Performed in Spectators at an Event by New York choreographer Susan Marshall (1994)
  • Contributing photographer for Oregon Ballet Theatre (1995-2002)
  • Led the first real-time online coverage of the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials (1996)
  • Shot editorial photography assignments for national magazines including Runners World, Sports Illustrated, People, ESPN and others (1997-2001)
  • Ran to Top 25 finishes in the Hood 2 Coast Relay (1998, 1999)
  • Land-Use Chair, Cathedral Park Neighborhood Association (2002-07)
  • Exhibited the conceptual superhero portrait series Bang Comics! at the Portland Art Museum’s Oregon Biennial (2003)
  • Qualified for the Boston Marathon (2004)
  • Wrote the book on Richard Avedon (2008)
  • Served on the founding executive board of Oregon Story Board (2014-16)
  • Currently serving on the executive board of the Rogue Valley Messenger (2017-)