Rafael Duffie

Media Arts & Animation

Media Arts & Animation Instructor
The Art Institute of California—Hollywood, a campus of Argosy University

Media Arts & Animation Instructor Rafael Duffie

Decide what you want to do—and do it with all your heart and soul. Rafael Duffie , Media Arts & Animation Instructor
, The Art Institute of California—Hollywood, a campus of Argosy University

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

My defining moment was in 2007, when I was in the Navy on a six-month tour in Iraq and Afghanistan on board the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis. As the webmaster and designer in the media department, I spent that entire tour teaching myself Autodesk Maya® from a book. That’s when I decided I wanted to work in the film and game industry and pursue creativity as my lifelong career.

What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?

For my Sales & Event Promotion class, I assign a visual merchandising (window display) project. Students work as a team to come up with a theme, budget, props, background, visual elements, and ways to communicate their message. The students learn to work as a team, be creative individually and collectively, be aware of budgeting, and know how to communicate a message visually.

How do you inspire students to push themselves beyond their perceived limits?

As an example, the window assignment with visual merchandising forces students to push themselves creatively in ways they haven’t before. After completing the project, they’re really proud to have work they can add to their portfolio.

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

It lets them network and learn about each other and their various projects. They get a deeper understanding of an area that may not be their strong point, learn to take responsibility for themselves and each other, and build positive relationships.

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

I preach to my students that it takes hard work to make an impact in the film industry— one that’s always evolving and changing, and where new skills and adaptability are the prerequisites for success. You have to be obsessed with success. You have to work tirelessly to earn your spot, because there’s so much competition.

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

Make the choice, trust yourself, do what makes you happy no matter what anyone else thinks. Decide what you want to do—and do it with all your heart and soul. To be great at it, you have to practice and practice until your idols are your rivals!

Anything else you’d like to share?

I love giving back and sharing my experience with my students. This is exactly what I want to do.