Chris Kelly

Chris Kelly

Love your work, but don't be in love with your work. Chris Kelly , Faculty , The Art Institute of California—Sacramento, a campus of Argosy University

Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

When I knew that by creating something authentic, new, and intriguing I was, in turn, creating something advantageous for both the audience and other professionals in the field. My ambition is to raise the bar from every possible angle.

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

Most of my classes are team based, when applicable, and are run like realistic art and animation production studios. I encourage students to provide input to their peers, as this strengthens the class community. I’m also able to provide my own unique motivation and inspiration because I still work in the industry. I also like to pass on knowledge that I received from my own mentors (Will Eisner, Harvey Kurtzman, Gene Colan, Sam Viviano).

What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring? 

I encourage student critiques and facilitate working in groups. These approaches help them learn how to work within a team environment, which is very important in breaking into the industry. These group projects help students get used to working with outside influences, and helps them to create a richer, more rounded final product.

How do you inspire students to push themselves beyond their perceived limits?

I work with students on an individual basis, finding out what they excel at and what they need to work on. In my classes I also facilitate real-time Q & A’s because it encourages students to really talk and gather inspiration from one another.

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

Diversity is key when creating teams in my classroom, and in the industry. I also press the importance of forging strong bonds amongst one another now and keeping in touch after they graduate. It’s important to have a large pool of talent to draw on out in the industry.

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

I teach them to always give their work that extra touch, something that makes it stand out as exceptional, something that Disney calls, “plussing.”

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

Have a very thick skin. Be able to take creative criticism. Love your work, but don't be in love with your work.

Anything else?

I am here to help students find their path. I want them to make great contributions to high-end entertainment, which will, in turn, create more competitive companies that will result in raising the bar for the industry across the board.