Renata Ballo

Media Arts & Animation

Media Arts & Animation Instructor
The Art Institute of Pittsburgh — Online Division


Imagination is more important than knowledge. Rentata Ballo , Media Arts & Animation Instructor , The Art Institute of Pittsburgh — Online Division
Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

As long as I can remember, I’ve been inspired by the idea of turning a thought, a feeling, or something I’ve seen or heard, into a drawing, a painting, a poem, a tasty salad, a sound, a mechanical object, a sculpture, a knitted scarf, you name it. That drove me to look for ways to express creativity, experiment with new tools and materials, and simply have fun.

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

I’ve learned a lot on the job through problem-solving on various projects. I let students customize class assignments to put what they’ve learned into practice. As long as they meet the most important requirements, they can take projects outside the classroom—for example, they can use a product they create for a local business as part of a school assignment.

What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring—and how do you inspire students to push themselves beyond their own perceived limits?

The first assignment in my Video Compositing class has students create an animated title sequence for a holiday program called "Destinations." Initial concept sketches, predictably, feature images of typical travel destinations. I then challenge them to convey the notion of traveling without the usual images. That’s when the creativity starts flowing, as they’re pushed out of their comfort zones. Suddenly, a destination goes from a physical place to a journey, an experience, a discovery, a lifestyle, or a sense of exploration.

How does collaboration contribute to students’ success?

As artists, we each have a unique vision but we also feed off each other. Networking with other artists brings a different perspective; we find solutions we otherwise wouldn’t consider, try new tools, and experiment. It’s a wonderful learning experience.

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

I’m a big fan of Albert Einstein. I want my students to always remember that “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

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

Be resourceful, open-minded, and flexible, and you can always create something of value regardless of what tools you have at your disposal.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Watching my students unfold their wings is most rewarding.