Bill Byrne

General Education

Visual Effects & Motion Graphics Instructor
The Art Institute of Austin, a branch of The Art Institute of Houston

Bill Byrne

Students need to love what they do... being a creative professional is a challenge and if you don't love it, you won't stick with it. Bill Byrne , Visual Effects & Motion Graphics Instructor , The Art Institute of Austin, a branch of The Art Institute of Houston
Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

I can’t remember a time where my direction changed from creative pursuits. I always knew that I would be a creative professional and educator. This is largely because I have no other skills other than creative ones. The only activities I enjoyed as a child were creative: drawing, painting, and other art forms. As I got older, I became interested in art through technology. There was really no defining moment, it was just the only thing I was going to do.

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

My experiences as a professional become my classes. I build every lecture, demonstration and assignment from something I did as professional. Theoretical material skills should serve to build upon and enhance the more practical industry skills. Those practical skills are what I emphasize in my classes. Using my experience in TV, film, and games to help them develop such skills is what can truly prepare them for actually sitting down and working in their respective fields.

What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?

I give my students assignments that they should want to do but that may be a little above their skill level. It gives them the opportunity to push themselves and realize something they didn’t know they were capable of. One assignment in particular from my Motion Graphics class deals with Kinetic Typography. I challenge them to take spoken dialog from a movie or song and display it as an animation of the text that also supports the meaning of the words. It’s a chance for them to realize, through illustrations and movement, that they can take what they already enjoy and enhance it through their own interpretations.

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

Students need to understand that the field that they are going into relies on teams to create the final, polished product. Their classmates will become the network that leads to them find success. Plus, no one is an expert at everything. It’s important to learn early that peers should be seen as an asset in creating something greater than they are capable of on their own.

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

I tell my students to find an industry-based bar of quality to hold themselves to. It gives them a realistic idea of what level they need to be at in order to be competitive in the industry.

What’s the most critical advice you would offer any student embarking on a creative career?

Set two goals:

A short-term goal that is tough but within reach and a long-term goal that you consistently strive for and that the short-term goal serves.

Anything else?

Students need to love what they do. A college education is a great investment but being a creative professional is a challenge and if you don’t love it, you won’t stick with it.