Willie Williams

Media Arts & Animation

The Art Institute of Houston


Collaboration is one of the most important elements in creating animated films. Willie Williams , Instructor , The Art Institute of Houston

What would you say is the defining moment in your life when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

I first decided I wanted to be creative at around age four or five. I used to sit and draw everyday all day watching cartoons on television. Once I found out that people got paid to make that stuff, I knew I had to find how to make that a reality for myself.

How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience to provide an industry veteran's sense of the realities / challenges / opportunities of the profession?

I make a conscious effort to make sure that our students are caught up on current events in the industry. Things move so fast everyday in regards to the animation discipline. Understanding the latest trends, software, and technology is essential for our students to be competitive in the industry.

Is there a class assignment that exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring? Similarly, how does your approach inspire each student to push themselves beyond their own perceived limits?

Every project that I assign to the students is unique, however, the manner in which the students execute each project varies. In animation, it is important that my students experience and research every aspect of their assignment before they begin any artwork. I require they get out of their seats and act out a scene and try different methods so they can translate that experience into the characters they animate.

What role does collaboration contribute to students' success, especially when students from other programs contribute to the same project?

Collaboration is one of the most important elements in creating animated films. There are vital, yet intricate components of creating an animation that our students embrace that are a different form of creativity. Understanding that the importance of sound, editing, and acting are just as important as animation, lighting, rigging or modeling when creating and animated film. It is within the collaboration experience that the student gains a full grasp of what goes into the professional production pipeline of this discipline.

In your opinion, what is the single most important thing you impart to your students to help them succeed in your class and in the real world? Alternatively, what is the most critical advice you would offer any student as he / she embarks on a creative career?

My primary goal as a teacher is to foster critical thinking, facilitate creative thought and to prepare students to function effectively as a filmmaker and artist. I strive to create well-rounded artists that have mastered both the technical and artistic aspects of filmmaking, storytelling, and animation. I do all of this with an optimistic, positive atmosphere that is a nurturing place to share and grow. I believe more learning occurs from failures than successes. My classroom atmosphere allows students to feel safe making mistakes.