When I was a kid, my dad worked in animation. He would bring home samples of art from his workplace and I couldn’t get enough of what he was showing me. Among the things he shared with me were character animation tests, samples of character designs, and production art for films he was helping to create.
At the time, looking at my dad’s work samples helped to fuel my own budding imagination. I began to understand, even then, that these cool drawings and tests were all in service of a much bigger idea–that there were artists whose job it was to use their illustrations in service of the stories that captured my imagination as a youth.
By the time I was in sixth grade, my parents started taking me to ArtCenter’s K-12 Public Programs. As my dad was an alumnus, he knew that this was the place to nurture my developing interest in becoming a commercial artist. And so, after all his stories of college, these classes were my first real introduction to ArtCenter.
In the Public Programs courses, I learned that while ArtCenter is undoubtedly a place for artistic exploration, it also requires and inspires a remarkable productivity and focus in its students. There was an infectious energy to ArtCenter in those days–a feeling that everybody really wanted to be there. And from what we kids could see from just walking around the school, that energy was only more remarkable at the college level. As we walked past masterful, graceful drawings, critiques and presentations, I suddenly felt an overpowering sense that this was where I belonged.
Four years ago, I finally entered the ArtCenter undergraduate program, as an Entertainment Design major. Like all memorable life experiences, it forever shaped my definition of the work that I do. I was lucky enough to meet incredibly talented designers and make great friends. At times, I found myself challenged and overcome with doubt. Yet, I emerged from ArtCenter with a broader and deeper understanding of myself as a creative individual.
I learned that, yes, hard work and mastery–in other words, the discipline of professionalism–earns you respect. What I also learned from my peers was that having a healthy competitive spirit does not mean you can’t share ideas and resources. I also ascertained of the value of learning from others whose strengths were different than mine. Once I was able to recognize my own strengths, I was able to create work that resonated deeply within the ArtCenter community.
From the time I was twelve years old, taking my first Public Programs class, to that thrilling moment when I donned my graduation cap, ArtCenter provided me with a space in which I could truly come into my own. The College gave me the resources to fulfill my goals of becoming a skilled professional artist, but it also helped me to begin to understand what might lie ahead on the rest of my life’s journey.
Post-graduation, I find myself facing a slate of new opportunities, as well as new challenges. Now that I have begun the journey that my father helped me to embark upon, I feel as though I am starting to understand the challenges he once faced. If anything, I respect him more having now walked a mile in his shoes. He is still my guide, along with my wonderful mother and brother (who have artistic inclinations of their own). I am beyond privileged to have a family that helps me to navigate both my personal and professional life, in addition to just hanging out, making dinner, talking about movies… in other words, being a family.
But whenever the conversation turns to ArtCenter–where I became a part of an entirely different family–we all get that little familiar smile on our faces. Because we know there’s simply no other place quite like it.
BS 2017 Entertainment Design