You can’t contain it, classify it or label it - and perhaps that’s why its our broadest major. New Media attracts an eclectic group of artists whose work can’t be constrained by a single category. Maybe your art involves video installations or video gaming. Maybe it’s about computer animation or interactive art. Maybe it blurs the lines, combining forms of art that have never before merged together. Stop-motion animation, animatronics and acoustic experimentation all find a home here. The defining element that links all New Media majors together is the love of technology and discovery.
Where were you before coming to MECA?
Freeport, Maine. Go Falcons!
What brought you to MECA?
I’ve been going to MECA since I was in 7th grade - taking classes, doing the Pre-College program, visiting the ICA during First Fridays - I did it all. MECA was pretty much my home away from home. So why wouldn’t I come to this place that had been creatively nurturing me since I was thirteen?
The other thing that really drew me to MECA was Portland. I lived in New York City for a month and I’ve been to Boston more times than I can count, and let me tell you something: they are too big. There’s too many people crammed into too many concrete shoeboxes surrounded by too many Starbucks. Portland has all the advantages of living in a big city without actually having to live in one. A thriving artistic community, hundreds of fantastic (and cheap!) restaurants, and enough vintage clothing boutiques and record stores to give a hipster a heart attack. And the ocean is a fifteen minute walk away from the dorms. Some of the dorms even have a view of the bay. In conclusion, everything in and about Portland is awesome.
What got you into wanting to make art for a living in the first place?
It’s just a thing that happened. The things I do the most are draw, browse the internet, play video games, and watch stupid cartoons, so I figured that being a New Media major was the only way I could really apply my finely tuned set of skills.
What surprises have you encountered with your education here?
I think the biggest surprise for me is the teachers. MECA is pretty small, so you get to know all of the teachers pretty quick. And they are all super rad. Last year, my Intro to 2D animation teacher would hang out with me after class for hours, giving me critiques on my drawings, telling me stories about working in the industry, or just watching stupid cartoons. I’ve gone out to get coffee and chat about literature with my English teacher. And every time I pass my old 2D Composition teacher we fist bump each other. Not to mention I’m Facebook friends with about half of the MECA staff. So, if you like being friends with artists that’ll teach you, come to MECA.
What is the best thing you’ve learned in terms of real world experience while being here?
Learn everything that you possibly can. The more skills you have, the more marketable you become. It also helps your own work when you know how to use the whole Adobe Suite. You can make your own website in Dreamweaver to host the Flash animations that you made and then cleaned up in After Effects while creating your own business cards in Illustrator. Of course, there’s a hundred other non-Adobe programs that I still need to learn how to use! (I’m looking at you, Maya). Though, in the end, it’s not how many programs you know, but how you use them.
Also, I think I’ve learned that no matter how much you prepare for one kind of job, life could take you in a totally different direction. Like, a former Graphic Design/Printmaking alum came back to and give a lecture about his career. He graduated way back in the early 90s when basic layouts in Photoshop blew everyone’s minds. He ended up being so skilled in these programs and other early computer tech that he eventually began to code for computer game studios. Now he’s one of the directors of SFX Animation at Walt Disney Studios! It’s crazy!
And everyone says this in every piece of advice for artists ever, but yeah: Draw everyday. Work really, really hard, and talk to everybody. That’s how you make it in the industry, kid!
How would you describe your art making style?
A constant, passionate battle of making myself not throw my laptop out of the window.
What inspired you to choose major in new media?
I’m a big nerd. As I said, it’s the only thing I know. I always knew that I was going to be a New Media major, even before I came here. It always confuses me when people go to college and not know what they want to do yet. Wait until you know what you want, then you don’t waste your time and money taking classes for things you won’t care about later.
How has MECA helped you network outside of the school?
The head of the New Media department, George LaRou, knows everyone. Seriously, he is a walking rolodex. He’s constantly bringing in people who work in web design and programming in Portland to talk about how their studio works and what they look for in employees. As soon as I build up my skill base more, George will hopefully hook me up with an internship at one of those studios.
What are your future goals and dreams?
I just want to be happy. I want to have a job that I enjoy so that I’m not miserable, and I want to make enough money so that I’m not excessively stressed about stuff all the time. And I know with the skills I learn in New Media, that’s a pretty achievable goal.
What expectations do you have from MECA in helping you achieve these goals?
By helping me learn the skills I need to know, and then networking me into a place where I can use them.
What are some other hobbies/interests you have?
Video games and cartoons, mostly. I am sort of a classic film and obscure music buff, but mostly that’s just for my hipster cred. And don’t tell anyone I said this, but I am an aspiring stand-up comedian, so I’m probably going to unleash all of my terrible material on MECA again when school starts up. And I love podcasts, and New Media just got a soundbooth last year so watch out school! I’m going to produce the best college podcast that no one will ever listen to!
But yeah, I mostly just play video games.
Jeffrey Hoffman '11, Graphic Design
MFA, California Institute of the Arts, Wasserman Scholarship
BFAs in Photography and Graphic Design, Portland School of Art
BA, University of Southern Maine.
New Media Faculty - George Larou
Brad Werley ‘09
HOW IS PUPPETRY NEW MEDIA?
When I was going into a major, I was wondering if I could continue to do this because it doesn’t really fall under one of the majors. George (Professor George LaRou) was completely supportive. I use digital equipment as a tool, so it seemed natural that the New Media was right. It’s puppetry, but it’s also animation.
WHAT’s YOUR PROCESS?
I do every part of it. I draw the storyboard, build the puppets, find or make the props, build the sets , paint the sets, and then shoot from a digital camera and edit digitally.
SOUNDS TIME CONSUMING.
It really is. I shoot 24 to 30 photos for every second of video, and go through every shot, so patience is important.
ARE YOU A TECHNOLOGY GUY?
I use s digital format, but I don’t use all the shortcuts of technology. To pan, I actually create the motion one frame at a time, rather than creating the motion as a digital effect.
WHAT KEEPS YOU MOTIVATED?
I can’t express the feeling of seeing my characters moving around and having a personality. They come to life. They become their own beings.
What are some of the career paths for someone who majors in New Media ?
Many of our students find work in the animation and gaming fields. A fair number have started successful companies in the fields of smart phone Apps, documentary film, web design, and rich media. Some work as Graphic Designers, or as Artists launching their own recording and digital art projects.
How do you prepare your students for the real world?
Students learn to write an artist’s statement, professional resume, cover letter and artist’s bio. Students learn to seek out and research opportunities in the field through the use of the internet, professional organizations, publications and periodicals. Students create a portfolio of work targeted to their specific interests in the world of digital media. Students learn how to use social media and evolving web technologies effectively in the promotion and distribution of their work. Students have an awareness of the transferability and versatility of their education into the related fields of new media, motion design, web design, art direction, and the ability to explore ideas outside the discipline, including teaching.
What are some examples of what your alums are doing?
Stop Motion Animation Technician, Animation Teacher, Live Event and Video Producer, 3D Environment Artist, Feature Film Animator, Art director / Game Artist, App Designer (iOS), Chief Creative Officer, Project Manager (at a game company), Interaction Developer, Artist Assistant
What are the prerequisites to major in New Media ?
Students take Digital Imaging and Digital Film Making in their foundation. They also take a New Media Elective appropriate to their level or area of interest.
Will I be able to incorporate other media or interests with my work as a New Media major?
Definitely. You will be required to take a range of courses from other areas that match your specific area of interest. Students often take courses in Photography, Graphic Design, Illustration, Sculpture, and Painting.