Navigating Creative Pathways: Insights from a Ringling College of Art and Design Graduate
Motion Designer Jessica Buck shares insights into her experience at Ringling College of Art and Design, including her internship at the Design Center—a creative hub where students collaborate with professionals to create top-tier designs.
In this article Motion Designer Jessica Buck, shares her valuable insights into the enriching experience of studying at Ringling College of Art and Design and her internship journey at the school's Design Center.
The Design Center is a creative hub that fosters collaboration between students and professionals, crafting top-tier designs for both the college and the community.
If you are interested in learning more about Ringling College of Art and Design, this article is a must read.
Can you introduce your school to us and share what makes it special from your perspective?
I recently graduated from the Motion Design department at Ringling College of Art & Design in Sarasota, Florida. Ringling holds a special place in my heart for various reasons, starting with my fantastic experience in the Motion Design major. This department has an incredible community and we have highly experienced and remarkably supportive teachers who genuinely care about their students. The department head is awesome, and my fellow Motion Design students have been fantastic. Additionally, motion design at Ringling offers valuable resources like tutoring, mentorship opportunities, well-equipped labs, and excellent facilities.
What made you choose Ringling, and has it lived up to your expectations?
Having grown up in Florida with a passion for the arts, I always had my eye on Ringling College. Attending this school was a dream of mine, and it has exceeded my expectations. When I was a high school junior, I toured the campus with the intention of joining the graphic design department. However, I discovered motion design during that visit and became extremely interested. Following a summer at Ringling's Precollege program, I fell in love with motion design and started at Ringling after graduating high school. The rest is history!
How does Ringling promote diversity and inclusivity within its student community, and how has this enriched your educational experience?
Ringling is all about celebrating diversity among students. They empower us to highlight what's important to us. Like there’s an International Week for example with potluck events sponsored by the International Cultures Club. It's a great way to learn about different cultures and connect with fellow students.
How do students and teachers interact at the school, and is there a supportive mentorship dynamic?
The interaction between students and teachers in the Motion Design department at Ringling is exceptional. From day one, students are encouraged to reach out to professors for any reason, and it's evident that the professors genuinely care about their students' growth. The relationship between teachers and students reflects a studio environment, with students functioning as designers and animators while teachers play the roles of creative and art directors. This dynamic extends beyond graduation, as our teachers have invested in us for four years and continue to support and celebrate our post-graduation successes.
What have you found most valuable about your learning experience so far, and how has it impacted your artistic growth?
The most valuable thing about my time at Ringling College of Art & Design has been the awesome community and the mentorship in the Motion Design department. We've got super experienced and caring teachers, a department head who's all in, and classmates who are always up for a good collab. It's been a game-changer for my art journey.
In this setting, I didn't just polish my technical skills; I also got to level up my creative game. The way we interact with teachers is pretty much like we're in a real studio and they give us clear insight on the industry, and it's been a massive push for my artistic development.
Can you share an example of an assignment where you received valuable feedback from your teachers?
One time, during the pre-production exploration phase of my senior thesis, I had a clear vision of an illustrative style I wanted to achieve. However, my thesis advisor kept nudging me to explore different styles. I wasn't entirely sold on it at the time, but I decided to roll with it and tried out various styles, including some 3D experiments.
Surprisingly, diving into 3D opened up a world of possibilities and helped me discover techniques to achieve the illustrative quality I wanted. Without this detour, I don't think I would've wrapped up my thesis on time. It just goes to show how feedback to keep exploring can turn out to be a game-changer.
What helpful resources or opportunities does the art school provide outside of regular classes?
Ringling offers a ton of resources beyond regular classes, especially in Motion Design. We have upperclassmen tutors, lab monitors, and assigned mentors to keep our MD community tight-knit. Plus, we get access to cool stuff like the stop motion lab, greenscreen, special camera gear, and even an awesome sound designer for school or personal projects
Outside of MD, Ringling has endless resources depending on your interests, like an awesome Maker’s space with letterpress and printing labs, a ton of great extracurricular clubs, all with lots of different unique focuses.
Have you had the opportunity to work with industry professionals or participate in real-world projects during your time at the school?
Ringling College ensures that students who desire real-world experience before graduating have ample opportunities to do so. Personally, I spent time working with the Design Center, both as a job and for class credit.
During this time, I was involved in various projects, including designing and animating projections for gallery displays, creating animated GIFs and promotional materials for the Precollege program, and contributing to the PINC project, which was the most extensive and ambitious (and rewarding!) project I worked on during my time at the Design Center.
What was one of your favourite projects you worked on in the Design Center, and why?
One of my favourite projects during my time at Ringling's Design Center was the PINC project. When I initially joined the Design Center a few years prior, I started as a freelance motion designer, contributing to a wide range of projects, from crafting animated gallery projections to creating promotional GIFs for the Precollege program.
As I approached my senior year, I was asked to join the Design Center in the creation of the PINC project, which involved developing all the branding elements and the conference show opener for the annual event held in Sarasota, Florida. Collaborating closely with another motion designer and two graphic designers, we embarked on this exciting venture and delivered a product that we are all truly proud of.
As a creative, there's nothing more gratifying than having a supportive client who encourages us to explore our artistic capabilities. The founders of the PINC conference, our clients, were open to our ideas. They provided clear deliverables and shared their core values, notably the acronym PINC, representing People, Ideas, Nature, and Community. With this guidance, we had the creative freedom to generate concepts aligned with these values.
The trust of our clients, artistic freedom, collaboration with classmates, and the project's large scope made the PINC project the most memorable experience of my time at the Ringling Design Center.
How do you feel that working on a real-world project (or client-based project) better prepared you for the early stages of your professional career?
Engaging in real-world projects with tangible deliverables, client interactions, scheduled meetings, and strict timelines played an extremely important role in preparing me for my professional journey as a motion designer.
Collaborating with the PINC founders and team, an external client of the Design Center, was particularly impactful, as they provided unwavering support to our small team of 4th year motion and graphic designers, creating an environment that encouraged exploration and experimentation with new concepts and styles not previously used in this client’s branding. Their encouragement and belief in our creative abilities boosted our confidence and greatly contributed to my professional readiness.
Additionally, collaborating with fellow students honed our teamwork skills, teaching us how to leverage each other's strengths for collective success, similarly to how I could interact and communicate with colleagues once I graduated.
What was the biggest lesson, or the most important skills you learned through working in the Design Center?
The Design Center provided an environment mirroring a professional workspace. It introduced me to the dynamics of deadlines, client interactions, and the guidance of creative directors. This experience was invaluable as it not only honed my technical skills but also offered a glimpse into the demands of a real job in the creative industry.
What really set the Design Center experience apart was the opportunity to collaborate with professors and supervisors who assumed roles as producers, art directors, and creative directors within our team. This experience provided insights into the inner workings of a real studio. It expanded our knowledge and equipped us with the skills and understanding necessary to navigate the challenges and expectations of the professional world.
Working within a team was another highlight for me. As a motion designer, collaborating with graphic designers and other creatives allowed us to create extra strong work that was more than just regular classwork.
What would you say to current students interested in working with the Design Center, or about internship experience in general?
To current students interested in working with the Design Center or pursuing an internship in general, I'd offer this advice: Embrace every opportunity for learning and personal growth. Internship experiences are incredibly valuable, and the more effort you invest, the more you get out of the experience!
The Design Center is the perfect example of this as it provides an environment where you can immerse yourself in a friendly, supportive, and enjoyable work atmosphere while also acquiring valuable interpersonal and technical skills and knowledge. The Design Center's staff does a great job in creating a lighthearted environment without compromising productivity and professionalism. And don't forget about the awesome studio-wide Friday morning breakfasts – a delightful perk that helps build those relationships with your colleagues.
In essence, my message to aspiring interns is to seize the opportunity, work diligently, and actively seek chances for personal and professional development. Your internship can be a transformative journey filled with valuable experiences and connections.
What are your future goals, and how do you feel your school has prepared you for them?
I've got a bunch of goals on my horizon, and I'm stoked to dive into them! Thanks to Ringling, I've developed a hunger for learning and constantly improving my skills. Right now, I'm all about collaborating with studios, soaking up knowledge, and contributing my creative flair to whatever visual challenge comes my way. My school has given me the confidence and industry insights to step into the working world with enthusiasm. It's an exciting new chapter!
You can reach out to Jessica and see more of her work here.