Design your future with DSU’s Digital Arts & Design program

Oct. 13, 2020

This paid piece is sponsored by Dakota State University.

Thinking of entering a creative field? Start with a one-of-a-kind education.

“We want our students to be able to be creative thinkers, to be able to find creative visual solutions to any given visual problem,” said Wendy Romero, Digital Arts and Design, or DAD, program coordinator at Dakota State University and associate professor of art and design.

“We want our student to easily think outside the box, to be innovators and creatives.”

The uniqueness of Dakota State’s program gives students an advantage as they enter careers in the creative world. The Digital Arts and Design program offers a strong and versatile foundation in traditional and digital art, preparing graduates for a variety of careers such as art director, graphic designer, sound designer, recording artists, audio engineering, animator, motion graphic artists and 3D modeler.

“Students receive instruction in all three of these areas – digital sound design, computer graphics and production animation – as part of the core education,” Romero said.

After foundational training, students in the program then choose one of the three areas as a specialization to study more extensively. The specializations allow for more personal teaching as the students advance in their studies.

“We prepare our students to have interdisciplinary skills and mind-sets to get ready for evolving industry needs,” said Joe Ren, assistant professor of digital arts and design.

Ren’s goal in teaching is to have students understand how visual language works, for example what color should be used in a project. Creativity is the ability that helps people see things differently, he explained. Visual communication helps students become better observers and communicators.

Ren and Romero mentor students in the program. Both like to form engaging relationships with their advisees.

“I help students on their personal project and encourage them to participate in design contests,” Ren said. “I assist students with getting their work published in magazines and books.”

Last year, one of his students received the highest honor Best of Show award in the student category at the American Advertising Awards, the South Dakota Advertising Federation’s annual awards celebration. Obatola Layiwola received an Addy for his integrated advertising campaign “Fuel Your Passion.”

The interdisciplinary training students receive is beneficial in competitions. Participation in activities and contests outside of the classroom like the Addys gives students resume-building experience.

As part of the program, students are required to complete an internship to earn their degree. That gives them the opportunity to work for businesses such as ad agencies, magazines and production companies.

“Our students are busy learning in the classroom but also learning through these experiential opportunities,” Romero said.

Student experiences

Recent May 2020 DAD graduate Kaysea Luna appreciated the broad background provided by the program.

“It was beneficial to learn about other areas of the DAD program because you are learning different programs and techniques in the creative world,” she said. “You have those techniques in the back of your pocket and will be able to use them whenever you need to.”

Luna describes the program as a small family where faculty and students are willing to step in and help someone else with a project or a critique. She appreciated that faculty members take the time to get to know students and are dedicated to helping them even  after they leave DSU.

“At DSU, you are not just a number,” she said. “It has a homelike feel, so it feels like you fit in wherever you are.”

Luna also is thankful for experiences included in the program like visiting KELO to learn about TV production and talking to alumni about the industry. Those opportunities helped prepare her for life after graduation.

She is interning with ESQ Agency, which is based out of Miami and Tennessee, in the sports and entertainment industry, working as a video editor and producer to create recruiting videos, highlight reels and segments with clients to get to know them outside of their industry.

Gareth Brewer, also a May 2020 DAD graduate, described the program as unique in that it offers incoming students the ability to discover their creative interests through exploration.

Brewer selected an animation focus and was able to gain a base knowledge about both 2D and 3D animation.

“This offers a very interesting path for incoming students to figure out which aspect of animation they like,” he explained, adding that options include puppet, hand-drawn, Flash, 3D, stop motion and motion graphics.

The program is ideal for a student struggling to find a place or style in the animation field, Brewer added.

During his time in the DAD program, Brewer was featured in art shows, served as a DAD tutor and completed a thesis for the honors program about the process of creating a 3D short in a very short amount of time.

He is working part-time in a 3D creature design/modeling position with indie game studio startup Griever LLC while balancing a part-time job at McDonald’s and hopes to return to school to earn a masters in animation or pursue degrees in business/communications and film.

To learn more about the DAD program, visit our website.

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Design your future with DSU’s Digital Arts & Design program

Thinking of entering a creative field? Start with a one-of-a-kind education.

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