April 14, 2014
Five questions for Jack Lew '71
After graduating from CIA in 1971, Jack Lew launched a tremendously successful career in the entertainment industry and then academia. He was senior manager of artist and professional development at Disney Feature Animation Florida. At Electronic Arts (EA), the world leader in video games, he was responsible for developing relationships with art schools and identifying top global art talent. He is currently Vice President and Dean of Visual Communication at the Laguna College of Art and Design in California.
Lew came back to CIA in April 2014 to talk to current students about careers in animation, illustration, game design and related fields. He followed his talk by answering these questions:
Did you enjoy your recent visit to Cleveland and CIA?
Very much. I always am curious to see what today's students are doing and it was great to be able to talk to some of them about their projects at their desks. Also, the night before, I had dinner with a group of former classmates and it was nostalgic, silly, and fun - felt like a freshman again!
What did you think of the work you saw by CIA Game Design, Animation and Illustration students?
The work was as good as any I've seen at other top tier art colleges and I've visited over 20 just in the US. Good to know that CIA still has a healthy and competitive environment. Dom (Scibilia, Illustration Department chair) has done an exceptional job with the illustration program. Amanda (Almon, Game Design Department interim chair) is a firecracker setting those game students afire. I really respect her knowledge of the field of interactive media.
Are there misconceptions that you would like to dispel about careers in game design?
Students going into the games industry need to know that making games is a collaborative effort. As an artist you cannot just isolate yourself because you will be engaging daily with programmers, designers, technical artists and production management. That's why I encourage project assignments in a team environment. Learning to communicate and leadership skills will help tremendously in this or any other field. A misconception is that it's easy to get a job in this industry. It's not. It's highly competitive especially for the artist but it's also a lot fun and very rewarding. Work hard!
Looking back on your CIA education, what did you gain or learn that benefits you most in your career to this day?
I learned that it is important to develop a broad range skill sets and not to be narrowly focused on what might have been my favorite subjects. I particularly benefited from the excellent liberal arts courses that prepared me to think and write analytically.
Who were some of your most influential professors?
I'm very thankful to the talented and dedicated professors I had at CIA. I hope I'm not overlooking any of them in citing the following: (current Professor and 1965 graduate) Gene Pawlowski and Ralph Ward for pushing me to strive for perfection; (the late faculty member and 1940 grad) John Paul Miller taught me what good design is; (the late faculty member and 1961 grad) Richard Treaster was always setting higher and higher goals for me and took a personal interest in me; (former professor and 1940 CIA grad) Marco DeMarco gave me a lot of freedom to explore; Helen Weinberg opened my mind to contemporary literature; (Professor Emeritus) Franny Taft taught me what scholarly research is about and I can't imagine a better teacher in this world on Mesoamerican art. Franny was a true inspiration to me throughout my college years and beyond. When I first stepped on the stone stairs of Chichen Itza, all her lectures came rushing back and I almost cried. I love Franny!
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