Huntington, Ind.—On the second floor of Huntington University’s Becker Hall, students are doodling in class, daydreaming about superheroes and imagining themselves as characters in a comic book. … Their professor is so proud.
Sounds odd, right? But this isn’t just any classroom. These students dream of becoming animators, children’s book illustrators and even film designers. Through his inspirational design class, Bryan Ballinger, associate professor of digital media arts, is trying to make that a reality.
Throughout this semester, students have had the opportunity to meet and learn from professionals in the fields they hope to pursue – from cartoon artists and muralists to feature film designers and storyboard creators. Recently, students were able to meet with comic book illustrator Mike Maihack, who is best known for his “cow & buffalo” comic. He explained to the class from start to finish how he creates, draws, colors and then publishes his work.
“It was really interesting to see someone with my interests out there doing what I love,” said senior Josh Addessi, a digital media arts major, who hopes to some day create concept designs for films.
As Ballinger had hoped, the speakers help students conceptualize their “dream jobs.” The next step is turning those dreams into lasting careers after graduation.
“Sometimes it’s very hard to find someone in your style,” said junior Elisabeth Meyer, a digital media arts major. “The speakers give us great insight into what it’s going to be like as an artist.”
Ballinger has made connections with artists from around the world through school and professional opportunities, including individuals from Pixar, Dreamworks and the Cartoon Network.
“It shows them what they have to look forward to after they have graduated,” Ballinger said. “It just shows them all of the different opportunities out there.”
During each class, students are exposed to a new artist and a new art form. Ballinger said most students leave class and try the new techniques they have just learned.
“I just want to have as broad of a repertoire as I can get,” said senior Cole Phillips, a digital media arts major. “You get to see that you can actually do what you want to do, and be good at it, and not have to grow up and get a ‘real job.’”