Elvin Hernandez

Media Arts & Animation

Associate Program Chair
The Art Institute of Washington, a branch of The Art Institute of Atlanta

Elvin Hernandez Associate Program Chair for Media Arts & Animation

Our students and departments are of quality and I stand by the educators we have. Elvin Hernandez , Associate Program Chair , The Art Institute of Washington, a branch of The Art Institute of Atlanta

Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

I learned to read from comic books and I learned to tell stories by watching cartoons as a kid. When I lived in Puerto Rico, we would first get the translated versions of comics so it pushed me to learn Spanish. And the English ones were always more advanced, so it made me want to learn how to speak English. I come from a family of artists and we always had art around the house and so I connected with it.

How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience?

I base all of my projects in the classroom on real-world experiences. I try to take into account what publishers or art directors or animator directors are going to require from students. So, I try to tie it all in. A lot of conversations in my class are going on and I make it feel like a studio where the assignments are given, but the environment allows for people to interact.

What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?

In advanced illustration class, I give them an assignment and I give them five phrases and have them take one of those phrases and have them figure out what it means to them and create a concept and character, and it makes them think in abstract format. It gives them a point to start and allows them to be creative.

How does collaboration contribute to students’ success—particularly when students from various programs work together?

There are departments that have to work together for Animation projects to be completed. It's never a one-person team. You have to be able to communicate and compromise.

What’s the most important thing you impart to students to help them succeed in class and the real world?


I want my students to know that they're going to have to think critically as an artist. They're going to have to be in the moment and be able to respond. Every project is like a question and they're going to have to provide an answer.

What’s your one piece of advice for a student embarking on a creative career?

The biggest piece of advice I give to students is that you have to understand that assignments will be given to you, but don't expect every single part of the assignment to be broken down.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I have been at Ai Washington for almost 10 years now and I appreciate that we focus on quality. Our students and departments are of quality and I stand by the educators we have, and I think the students that graduate come out stronger because of the education they received here.