Imagination has been a driving force throughout my life. It even has a tendency to affect my big life choices. Upon entering my freshman year at Cornell University in 2002, I had imagined myself a premed student pursuing a noble career in pediatric cardiology. Not too far into my sophomore year after having suffered through my first semester of organic chemistry, my imagined future was shattered for what it was: a lot of hard science classes I would have toil through for 4 years to take the MCATS… and then NEVER use them again.
However, by this time I had taken Psych 101 as well as my first Human Bonding class… and I was hooked. I became fascinated with personality development and dove head first into the Human Development major. I now imagined myself becoming a very successful criminal profiler for the FBI with a PhD in forensic psychology. I even took a college anatomy course to further my knowledge of the human body so I would know what the coroner was talking about as he performed an autopsy while I used his input to create my profile of a serial killer. Upon graduating with my BS, I entered into an internship with a forensic psychology firm, intent on using that year to gain some insight into the field and using it as a reference for entrance into graduate school. However, I did not realize how BORING forensic psychology could be. For the most part all we did was evaluate cops’ fitness for duty or do other psych evals for sensitive volunteer work or job placement. I sat in on one — ONE — interesting deposition about a man who suffered a psychotic break who attacked a police officer with a flashlight, was shot 4 times and still managed to steal the afore mentioned cop’s car and drive around for a bit before becoming weakened by the gun shots.
Finally we reach February 2004 and I am watching the Oscars. I had started drawing again, which had always been a favorite past time, but now I was beginning to wonder if I could make it more than a hobby. The category for Best Art Direction was presented and I saw all of the concept design and art that had gone into making The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, The Girl with the Pearl Earring, Master and Commander, Seabiscuit, and the Last Samurai. The costume designs, creatures, sets! AMAAAAAAZING! I pointed at the screen and said, “That’s what I want to do!!”
My father turned to me and said, “You want to be an art director?”
I replied, “No. I want to make the art. I want to create the designs.”
Major kudos to my dad. Rather than hemming and hawing about a degree we paid for and I would never use, he said instead, “Well, research what you need to do to get there.”
So I did.
My dad said I should get a graduate degree since I already had a BS. This led me to the Academy of Art University, which offered an MFA in 2D art for animation. Their Visual Development major was still in its infancy and not yet officially offered. And so after a year and a half of taking basic art classes to build an application portfolio, I was accepted into the Spring 2006 semester and I was moving to California.
Finally, I had found a niche my imagination could thrive. And that Human Development degree? Well I can’t tell you how valuable knowledge about the developing psyche, human personality, psychopathology, and abnormal psychology is for story and character design. 😉