Insider's Guide - Miami University

Insider's Guide - Miami University

Whether you’re already at school, looking to find a new school or even considering moving overseas to study, nothing beats hearing from the students themselves! We speak to Payton Kunk about the ins and outs of studying at Miami University's campus in Oxford, Ohio, U.S.A

Whether you’re already at school, looking to find a new school or even considering moving overseas to study, nothing beats hearing from the students themselves! We speak to Payton Kunk about the ins and outs of studying at Miami University's campus in Oxford, Ohio, U.S.A

Miami University
As an original Public Ivy, Miami provides Ivy League-quality education at a public school price with an exceptional return on investment. Miami is a place where ambitious students find their purpose and prepare for a lifetime of success

The Specifics

What’s the name of your school?

Miami University.

Closest train station or public transport option?

Butler County Regional Transit Authority (BCRTA) has Oxford bus routes from around the area.

How long have you been there?

3 years.

Why did you choose to study here?

Before beginning school here, I was unsure of whether I would want to focus on game art or programming. After visiting, I was given confidence after learning that the professors here would be able to patiently help me explore my options.

The Games + Simulation Major let me experience a little bit of everything, while still making available the resources and time necessary, to attain proficiency in the roles I chose to pursue.

You’re learning a wide range of skills and software. What subjects or tools are you enjoying the most so far?

Building out 3D environments in UE4, character design, learning to texture in Substance 3D Painter, 3D sculpting in Blender/Zbrush, and studio art classes. Being exposed to a large array of disciplines has been incredibly enjoyable.

Image courtesy of Payton Kunk
Image courtesy of Payton Kunk

What advice do you have for students thinking of studying for your degree?

Foster a growth mindset as opposed to a fixed mindset. With a fixed mindset, you’ll fall for the idea that talent and ability are fixed factors beyond your control, and this will hinder your creativity as well as your drive to learn unfamiliar software.

With a growth mindset, you’ll be able to see that abilities can be developed through determination and hard work. It’s important to find what works for you and not fall into a repetition of comparing your art to others in a non-conducive manner.

Perception affects much of what we do and feel on a daily basis, so spending time with yourself now and allowing a shift to a growth mindset to occur can prevent insecurity, self-discouragement, and burnout later on.

What personal projects are you working on at the moment? How do you stay motivated?

I’m currently turning a friend’s Woodblock print from her printmaking class into a 3D scene in Blender. Modeling out organic shapes was a lot of fun, and I was able to get in some hand-painted texturing practice.

I stay motivated by finding subject matter and references I really admire, and intentionally giving myself time to work through details of a scene in my head when I’m not sketching or 3D modeling.

Do you take part in challenges? What have you learned as a result of participating in activities above and beyond your coursework?

I haven’t completed any of The Rookies drills or challenges yet, but I intend to. I recently began working on a submission for the Winter Stories contest, and it’s been quite enjoyable.

I still need to publish my mood boards and concept art, but the process of creating them has given me inspiration for how I’d like to structure my projects in the future.

[The Rookies'] contests are wonderful because it’s an opportunity to work on pacing and planning. It helps to establish self-discipline in a non-stressful manner and encourages students to see a project through to the end.

The Scene

The first thing you see when you walk outside your school?

The Pulley Bell Tower.

The closest shop to outside your school is:

Bagel and Deli.

Your school is great, but you wouldn’t mind a bit less:

Walking distance from class to class!

Image courtesy of Miami University

The unofficial uniform of your school is:

Bagel and Deli sweatshirts.

A mandatory stop for anyone new to your city:

Hueston Woods.

A common myth about your school is:

The ghost of a woman who was a principal at a nearby female seminary in the 19th-century still roams the halls of a dorm currently in use by Miami students to this day.

A massive night out for students at your school is likely to be:

Heading uptown to wander around together and get food.

The Superlatives

You won’t find a better place to eat than at:

Ramen Hachi.

The strangest thing you’ve ever seen at your school is:

Someone in a Pikachu costume roaming the streets.

One thing you’d never change about your school is:

The amount of nature surrounding campus.

But one thing you wouldn’t mind seeing changed is:

More events within the games program to interact with students of all levels. It could help encourage a culture where upperclassmen can share what they’ve learned and pass on knowledge to younger students.

How would you describe the school community?

It’s tough to summarise the school’s community in its entirety, but the school’s game program feels like a small community in itself.

[The Game Program community] is tight-knit yet welcoming, and the professors work hard to help the students achieve success in whatever craft they choose to pursue.

As students, we’ve been given many opportunities to collaborate over the years and everyone is always encouraging toward one another.

Someone gives you $1M to pimp out your school. You use it to:

Build a large botanical garden equipped with a game dev lounge on campus. Student environment artists could use the plants there as reference to create awesome foliage.

And finally...where do you see yourself after graduation?

I’m looking into various master’s programs for Game Art, so possibly grad school. I’d also really like to spend a couple of years traveling before setting down roots in one location, so there are many possibilities to explore with that as well.

You can find more of Payton's work on Twitter, Instagram, and ArtStation.