Creative Careers in Art and Technology

Creative Careers for the 21st Century

Information and its use in a digital environment is undergoing a transition in the mid-1990s that is similar to and in some ways more portentous than the introduction of the Gutenberg printing press 500 years ago.

Creative Careers in Art and Technology


The information age has spanned the digital media revolution. Businesses and consumers are being introduced to information in a digital form of interactive text, images, animation, sound and video. The demand for this new form of multimedia is increasing at a rapid pace.

As a result, the demand for artists, designers, animators, video production personnel and multimedia authors who can create, design and produce content for this new digital media revolution currently exceeds the supply. The pool of creative talent for the 21st century is forming now.

Most of the computer animation and multimedia educational programs in existence today were barely in their infancy five years ago. Technology plays a very large role in education for this field. Because the equipment is so expensive, it is almost impossible for individuals to create an environment to learn the skills themselves. The key for prospective students is to choose a school that is committed to maintaining the technology. Frequently, instructors work at companies in interactive industries and can provide students with job leads and recommendations.

When choosing a school, the decision should be based on the teaching ability of a faculty and on the subject matter. Most industry experts agree that a school that has programs geared toward digital media career preparation should offer:

  • fundamental art and design courses such as sketching, life drawing, characterisation, modelling, painting, rendering, graphic design, storyboarding skills, colour and light, cameras, and sound.
  • knowledge and experience with graphics software for image manipulation, computer paint, layout and design, two-dimensional and three-dimensional animation, multimedia authoring, video and special effects, audio and video non-linear editing, computer-aided drafting and three-dimensional modelling.
  • liberal arts studies, and skills in communication, interviewing, presentation, production, time management, and portfolio and demo tape production.

The curriculum of a school should serve as a plan for success. The student builds on the learned skills and competencies necessary to meet industry requirements, and the demo tape and portfolio completed at the end of the program is the tangible out-come of that plan.

Prospective students should seriously analyse their capabilities and desires. Learning to draw, edit and animate is like learning to play a musical instrument - its largely a matter of practice and dedication. Employers are looking for trained creative individuals who also demonstrate a passion and enthusiasm for building these interactive worlds. Passion and enthusiasm breed the discipline required to develop the skills for this field.

Lucas Arts Entertainment Co, the games division of the entertainment conglomerate operated by filmmaker George Lucas, found that passion and enthusiasm in Craig Rundles, Jim Rice and Clint Young, three recent graduates of the Computer Animation and Multimedia programs at The Art Institute of Dallas. Rundles and Young are working on the development of Rebel Assault II, a video game that will coincide with the new Star Wars trilogy Lucas is producing.

Much like an illustrator, production artist or calligrapher, the computer animation/multimedia specialist is a highly skilled and specialised artist. Graduates should be prepared to apply their skills in positions such as computer animator, architectural simulation artist, broadcast graphics artist, animator for business applications, animator for computing/information technology, animator for corporate/industrial presentations, entertainment/edutainment animator, film animator, animator for interactive CDROM, animator for interactive television, paintbox artist, special effects artist and animator, and animator/artist for titling and design.

The field is very accessible for individuals who have artistic backgrounds coupled with hardware and software technology skills. The ‘starving artist’ myth should be dispelled in the 21st century as institutions of higher learning focus on art and technology curricula that lead to successful creative careers.

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