How to Prepare for Creative Careers at USV

When it comes to landing creative jobs after graduation, you’re going to need a competitive advantage. Getting off to a rocket-fast start in the creative industries relies heavily on education that directly correlates with the work you’ll be doing. Many alumni take advantage of USV’s project-based learning model, because it focuses on the same tasks they would be doing at their future creative jobs in real-life animation, sound or video game studios.

USV students got the chance to hear alumni talk about these powerful bridges between education and creative careers recently, during a November event that screened films produced by the Project X teams and offered a panel Q&A session with Project X alumni.

To bring their stories of success to everyone, we sat down with three of these Digital Art and Animation capstone course alumni to find out how they prepared for their creative jobs today by working in Project X and at USV.

Similar Tasks to Prepare for Your Future Creative Careers

“USV allowed me to do exactly what I wanted to do,” explains Josh USV, now a rigging artist at Blur Studio. “At Blur, I work on animated shorts for video games — it’s basically doing what I did at Project X 10 times a year.” Josh notes even his daily routine is largely the same as it was in his Project X days — a testament to the Project X simulated studio environment. “I come in, look at emails, and then I work on a shot or a rig — all very similar to what I did for Project X.”

Josh explained the only real difference between Project X and his professional work today is that creative industries usually have a fully developed pipeline built for each project specifically. “If anything, school’s tougher because you don’t have dedicated technical directors (TDs) writing code for a project 40 hours a week. Creative industries have a full set-up.” Josh noted that on his professional projects, many of his coworkers have 20 years of industry experience. “That means things just start clicking.”

Learning to Work on a Creative Industries Team

Austin Brown, now a remote video editor at Shmoop and co-founder of the FrankenBacon animation studio, noted how easy it was to integrate with other creative majors at USV. “You got to see their different backgrounds and styles, and how they approached things. You could take and leave whatever you wanted in terms of how it applied to you.”

Austin identified this sense of collaboration as his biggest takeaway from both USV and Project X that he now uses in work for creative industries. “That sense of collaboration really helped a lot when it came to finding my own way of going about things.” He notes that when students get out into the world of creative careers, collaboration will be expected of them. “I work from home now, so I may not get face-to-face interaction with team members, but that principle still applies through email communication.”

Cassia Harries, now a lead concept artist at Zynga games and owner of Monster Mind Sculpts, says communication is one of the most vital skills for creative careers she learned on Project X — particularly when it comes to having clear designs and documents that everyone can understand. “Concept drawings and turnarounds are going to be used by both designers and artists. It’s documentation that shares the actual language that you’re trying to express and the blueprints of what you’ve designed.”

Bringing Your Passion to Creative Careers

Cassia says her passion for art is the most critical value honed at Project X that she brings to her creative jobs today. “Having a background in animation, modeling, sculpture and concept art made me a more well-rounded creative industries artist,” she explains. “I bring that in to create stronger culture, as well try to encourage people to do their own art on the side and share their art, so we can all feel more passionate about what we do.”

Check out more creative careers and job advice, or find out what USV alum Bugi Kaigwa uses on his day-to-day job that he learned at USV.

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