by Walt Sturrock
As an artist and educator, I believe art students are best served by an educator who is an experienced artist who truly cares about his students and their success, and can empathize with their struggles. He must possess a genuine love and excitement for the art form, which in turn fuels the student’s interest and creativity.
Being an artist is not just a job; it’s a way of life and a way of being in the world. The artist is on a life-long learning journey, in which he continuously studies everything around him, including art, the industry, technology, culture, and indeed, life itself. It is the professor’s role to instill this early in the artist’s career, and to bring out of each student their own personal experiences, vision, and style. My classroom is a place that respects each student’s individual learning style and celebrates their uniqueness and abilities. It is through the channeling of their unique perspectives that great art can emerge.
Teaching is very personal. I bring to my classroom the desire to share my skills, my experience and my love of the art form. I strive to inspire my students, to instill a passion for animation as a means of understanding the human condition and the world’s culture. I poke and prod at the minds of my students, challenging them to articulate visually and verbally their thoughts; to be better communicators, better artists, and better thinkers.
By its nature, animation is an amalgam of art forms: drawing, painting, design, storytelling, art direction, and literature, all driven by the marketplace. Thus, the essence of animation is a collaborative process, born of the creative interplay of many individuals’ perceptions, visions, and ideas. Students need to work, learn, and communicate in group settings through the use of critiques, group projects, and art exhibits. They need to quickly and often show their work in progress to their peers. The more they iterate and receive feedback, the faster and better their work will evolve.
An important role of every artist is to keep up with their industry and its current technology and trends. Art drives technology, however, technology is rapidly changing the way audiences view and interact with artists’ work. Students must embrace change and new technology, and see it as a positive creative opportunity, providing new outlets for their work in a time when the interest in print is diminishing and on-line, wireless, and interactive experiences are blooming. Consumers are becoming increasingly savvy and have shorter attention spans, thus increasing the demand for artists to create far more compelling imagery. To address these emerging markets, students need to encompass more digital technologies with the incorporation of time–based images, sound, music, as well as learning classic film making principles.
Professors can accomplish much in their careers. I find that the most rewarding aspect of teaching is the opportunity to guide students along a creative career path of their choosing. To use my experience, skills, and love of the art to help them begin their professional journey.