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News . Feature Stories . CIA is home: Q + A with Game Design major Javae Brown

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September 05, 2014

CIA is home: Q + A with Game Design major Javae Brown

What's your earliest memory of making art?

My earliest memories of making art are from when I was 3 years old, I believe. I grew up with my mom ranting and raving about what an artist her daughter was, because in preschool, I made stick figure people that some of the kids in second grade couldn't even do. I also remember that I made a book about my family, and all of the drawings were done with glitter and glue.

Did you take a lot of art classes in high school?

I had at least one art class every year. My mom caught on early and sent me to audition for the Cleveland School of the Arts, and I studied there in Visual Arts all of middle school and half of high school. After that, I transferred to Euclid High School, which actually had a great arts program. I got into their Commercial Arts program, and we'd have art for three periods a day. On top of that, I took at least two other art classes, including ceramics and a portfolio-building class.

Why did you choose to attend an art + design school?

I chose an art and design school because the purpose of furthering your education is to find a career, and I knew I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I did something ordinary. Someone once told me that we artists don't identify as whatever career path we choose; we identify as artists, above all. I wanted to do something that largely incorporated some form of visual arts, along with the other skills I have. And for some odd reason, ever since I was a kid, I dreamed about going to art school, so I guess you could say I've always been art-bound.

What made you choose CIA?

Being a Clevelander, CIA just kind of seemed...right. I grew up on this campus. I went to school down the street for such a long time, and I worked at this summer arts program where we'd go in the Gund Building everyday. This is my city. In addition to that, CIA by far gave me the most scholarship money (which I think is really important in selecting a school), and also was one of the few schools this close that had what I wanted to go into.

What made you choose your major?

I came to CIA for game design. I felt like it was a perfect blend of everything I liked artistically, and everything I was good at logically.

Is having your own studio important to your education? And how about interaction with classmates, is that important to your education?

Being in game design, having a studio space is IMPERATIVE. If I didn't have it, I'd probably lose my mind, to be honest. Our major requires a very wide skill set, and having a place to quickly store all of my files and having that place be mine is just incredibly convenient. And not only that, I'm constantly surrounded by like-minded individuals that can help me solve any problem I may be having along with being able to quickly critique my work, which speeds up workflow. It's a fantastic dynamic. What's crazy is that most schools don't provide studio spaces, and I'm incredibly grateful for mine.

How are your relationships with CIA faculty different than your relationships with your high school teachers?

There's a big gap between a high school teacher and a college professor. In high school, everything is kind of run like a factory, and you go from class to class at the sound of a bell because you have to, and it's a rare and special experience when a teacher notices you as a person, instead of a filled chair that has to graduate so the next person can fill the chair. The faculty at CIA actually notice you. They watch you closely and they're teaching you something that you actually have the desire to learn. Nothing is ever definite. There's no one teaching style. The faculty adapts to you to ensure that you have the best learning experience you can.

What one thing about the CIA experience surprised you the most?

What surprised me the most about CIA is how involved our student life is. Personally, I'm currently our Campus Activities Board president, a member of our Community Service Club, and a member of our Student Leadership Council. Along with that, I've been an Orientation Leader here ever since it was an option for me. When I tell people this, they don't know how it's possible, but the great thing about being involved on campus is that it improves your time management skills, which is a lot tougher than it may seem. I never got to do this kind of stuff in high school, so I'm just utilizing all of the opportunities offered to me.

How do you like Cleveland?

Cleveland is a great city. I've lived here my whole life, and I'm a proud resident of University Circle, one of the most culturally rich places in all of Ohio, where CIA happens to reside. I love all of our bridges and the family-owned restaurants, and we have a great cityscape. It's also a great place to find career opportunities.

What would you say to a high school student considering attending CIA?

I remember the open house I attended the spring of my senior year in high school, and I remember listening to all these students talk about the majors they were in, and what their home life was like, and they were all so different. What I remember most is the end of the day when I was walking out the door with my mom and she said, "I can see you fitting in here. Look around. Everyone's weird like you." And as soon as she said that, all the experiences of the day just clicked. I realized it all felt so familiar. I realized I didn't feel out of place like I did everywhere else. I realized CIA was home.

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