Vernon Reed

Game Art & Design

Game Art & Design Instructor
The Art Institute of Pittsburgh — Online Division

Vernon Reed

The world is full of talented people driving taxis because they lack motivation. Vernon Reed , Game Art & Design Instructor , The Art Institute of Pittsburgh — Online Division
Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

I’d always intended to become a scientist, but art had different ideas. Some of my artist friends started pointing out that the things I was making were, in fact, art. That’s when I got serious.

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

In the classic way—I share war stories and cautionary tales from the real world.

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

Students can get caught up in a rush to master the next technique and absorb the next concept. The final portfolio process is often their first opportunity for meaningful, comprehensive, objective evaluation of their body of work—and it can be unnerving. One assignment requires students to submit examples of over a dozen kinds of work, which is then evaluated against industry standards—that really gets their attention. I keep pushing students by reminding them of the competition. Some students “get their wings,” as it were, during this process, and it’s a joy to see them transcend their previous limitations.

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


All games are made by teams, so collaboration skills are vital. Our assignments tend to focus on individual achievements, but the review and critique component provides an excellent opportunity to hone valuable skills like giving and receiving objective feedback. I tell all my students this is the surest way to grow as a creative, over the span of a career.

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


Talent and ability aren’t enough. The game industry is perceived as glamorous, and more people want in than it can accommodate, so breaking in is very difficult. Without strong desire and motivation, you may not realize your dreams.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I teach both intro and portfolio classes, and it’s a real joy to see how my students have grown as artists and budding professionals.