Nikki Dunsire

Game Art & Design

Media Arts and Game Art & Design Instructor
The Art Institute of Portland

Nicole Dunsire

Stay open minded, be tenacious, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, and check egos at the door. Nicole Dunsire , Media Arts and Game Art & Design Instructor , The Art Institute of Portland
What would you say is the defining moment in your life when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

When I saw the liquid metal scene of Terminator 2 in the movie theater as a kid!

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 provide assignments that mimic real-world scenarios and I treat each assignment as though it has a deadline rather than a due date. As students progress through the creative process, I try to guide them toward successful outcomes, while discussing possible pitfalls. Some are successful out of the gate, while others are not. I believe that those who don’t find immediate success are in the best position for growth as they start to utilize creative problem solving skills in the face of adversity and often discover tricks and techniques they may not have tapped into otherwise. I encourage students to push themselves beyond their comfort zone for this reason.

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?

My favorite class to teach is Advanced 3D Lighting and Texturing. One of the assignments the students are faced with is to come up with an environment of their design and/or choosing and recreate a photorealistic CG version of it, while also implying a story with the final composition. This particular assignment presents many challenges when it comes to hitting their milestone or deadline dates and choosing techniques that yield the desired result. It requires quite a bit of creative problem solving, critical thinking and analysis of individual workflows and speed. The end results often provide strong portfolio pieces and a strong sense of accomplishment. This is a course where I see a lot of epiphanies happen, which is the most exciting thing to witness and be a part of as an instructor.

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

Collaboration and outside influences allow ideas to grow beyond what was originally thought possible. It’s a key component to a successful production. Students learn from each other and are able to push boundaries when they work together. When collaboration happens in the classroom, it additionally mimics what they will experience in the field.

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?

Stay open minded, be tenacious, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, and check egos at the door. Creative careers are a team sport!