Students, alumni and faculty collaborate on zine project

In collaboration between students, alumni and faculty, our Animation and Game Art programs have their own custom printed and digital zine! This initiative was kicked off by professor Kristy Steffens who shares what makes this project so special.

What is the zine?
Each year we’ve done a cover contest based on a prompt, the winner will once again get an Intuos Tablet! This year the prompt is Cozy Home, we’re looking for a polished illustration showing a depiction of a home, it can include characters or not and it can be the interior or exterior of the home. In the interior of the zine we try to highlight the best of what is submitted to show off a lot of the production work that goes into the arduous process of animating or developing assets – that includes character design, background & prop design, storyboards, 3D assets for printing or animation, 3D backgrounds, etc.

What inspired this idea? 
For the last 11 years, the ANGA department has done the yearly animation festival, showing off the final products of a range of 2D animation, 3D animation & assets as well as playable games & assets made by students each year. A lot of development and time goes into these final animations and projects that people don’t see, I wanted to help students have a better understanding of their peers’ work as well as being able to get some inspiration from the community as a whole by collecting it together. Animators & Dev artists end up with projects that have hundreds of hours poured into them and a lot of that development is usually iterated on multiple times – I really love seeing that process and how ideas evolve and expand over months of critique & personal growth. I don’t claim to be a graphic designer by any means but have taken it as an opportunity to try to improve while trying to show off my hard-working students. 

What do your students gain from submitting to the zine? 
The biggest payoff would be to be immortalized for future generations of students at RMCAD – I know that may sound a bit dramatic but as a faculty member I think it’s really impactful on the community as a whole. When I talk to my students about peers I had while I was a student, I talk about funny projects I remember or experiences we had in class with specific teachers. There are a lot of times I wish I could pull a printed book of work from when I was a student and say, “This was from the thesis film of John Varvir, he currently works at Powerhouse studios as an animator – he’s hilarious and one of the kindest people I’ve ever met!” Maybe they look him up and follow his work or ask him a couple of questions on Instagram for some advice; this is community-driven networking. Hopefully, over the next 5 or 10 years, we can have a printed library of work created by our students that can serve as a testament to their dedication and time while pursuing their degrees, also showcasing people that may not have graduated but still made a large impact on those around them. 

Why is it important for faculty to collaborate with their students? 
On a surface level, students and faculty spend a lot of time interacting and growing together. Each experience with a student is a learning experience for both parties, be it through learning solutions in programs or through social interactions. The mentor/mentee relationship is something that tends to develop organically when students take extra time to talk one on one with teachers, to ask extra questions, or get additional critique outside of regular class critiques. That relationship can be something that follows a student outside of their time at the school or when they graduate. It’s hard sometimes to feel comfortable reaching out to people for help, but we are here for a reason. We’re here to help students and alumni improve and we as a department have a pool of resources for students that dip into different departments, different programs, catalogues of inspiration & general advice. When I was a student, I latched onto Sam Fleming as a mentor because he was never at a loss of information & feedback for me – he was always willing to give me honest and direct critique which helped me grow as an animator but also as someone looking to go into a collaborative field. I highly recommend students push for more critique and advice about whatever concerns they have as much as they can.

How will this help students prepare for the real world?
It will help mainly to encourage them to finish work to a high standard of polish so they can directly use those finished pieces in their portfolios. Finalizing pieces and compiling development together in a professional way is a skill – hopefully it will encourage them to revisit past projects that may have fallen to the wayside, or reaching out to get critique on a piece that is in the purgatory of being okay but not amazing. I think in a real-world sense, I hope it pushes them to take the initiative in taking advantage of opportunities as they arise, be that through applying for jobs relentlessly, networking with alumni, updating their work & portfolios consistently, etc. 

Is there anything else you would like to add?
There is a large burden laid on students to perform to a high standard and in the tense world we live in now, I don’t want students to feel guilty about not submitting or taking on the extra obligation of redoing work. If you can’t submit to the zine this year beyond work you’ve already finalized, it’s okay to pass it up, it’s okay to take a breather. It is supposed to show off work that you are proud of – if you know you can’t finalize something this year, just keep in mind for when you can and submit it in future zines. We’re here to help if you’re feeling lost with work or otherwise. We hope the zine can serve to connect you to your peers and our small but growing ANGA community. If you have any questions, you’re welcome to email me at KSteffens1@rmcad.edu or the ANGA Chair Sean Brown at SBrown@rmcad.edu.

Zine 2020 Call for Entries
Click here to download the 2019 zine

2019 Zine Winner, Devon Cleland