Steve Guynup

Game Art & Design

Adjunct Faculty
The Art Institute of Pittsburgh — Online Division

Be ready to put your creativity in service of others. Steve Guynup , Adjunct Faculty , The Art Institute of Pittsburgh — Online Division

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

It was Apple’s “Think Different” campaign that confirmed things for me. I was never the best at anything growing up, including drawing. I could however, always be different. Being different led me to being creative, to appreciate art, and to giving purpose to being different through the world of design. 

Apple, the Apple logo and iPad are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. 

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 try to get students to think more deeply about their designs and processes. After many years as a multimedia and game design professional, I went back to school earning Masters & Doctoral degrees. Being in graduate classes after having real world experience made me reflect deeply on the design theories I was being then taught. They really do create useful structures to understand and advance your work. As an undergraduate, it was easy to focus on getting work done and believe that just knowing what buttons to push in a piece of software was enough - it isn’t.

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?

Occasionally I teach a Special Topic class on Virtual Art. Students create 3D installations based on poems, song lyrics, or social commentary. The project explores issues of meaning, emotion, story, and space in an immersive environment. The overarching goal is not to copy reality, but to create it. I normally set up a place to present the students' projects and we’ve shown work at SIGGRAPH, CHI, DiGRA, Serious Play, and more. On the technical front, we’ve worked with Google Cardboard and WebGL. Currently the 2014 Gallery is now in the Vive/Oculus Rift ready world of VRChat. As a whole, the project is about deep design, cutting edge technology, and shareable outcomes. 

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

Nearly every game design position lists strong communication skills as a requirement. It’s not a throwaway line or an afterthought. Communication is key to good collaboration. Every job you’ll have will require good communication and collaboration. In game design, you may work with multiple types of graphic designers, writers, 3D modelers, programmers, audio engineers, marketers, quality controllers, investors, and of course business managers. In class, I stress participation and discussion, even when students work individually. These discussions are in part skill building exercises in communication and collaboration. 

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?

Be ready to work. Be ready to put your creativity in service of others. Most jobs, especially entry-level ones, are about fulfilling the vision of your client or manager. 

Is there anything else you'd like us to know about you, your experience, or your role as a faculty member at The Art Institutes?

I’d just like to share my best wishes, and I hope to see you all in class.