Joshua Stutts

Josh Stutts

I get to see students grow and realize their potential... and know that I helped them to get there. Joshua Stutts , Game Art & Design Instructor
, The Art Institute of San Antonio, a branch of The Art Institute of Houston

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

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been interested in the arts and creating, whether it was stories or drawings or sculpture. Growing up in a small town in Alabama, I never thought of turning that into a career until an Art Institutes representative came and talked to my high school. From then on I knew I wanted to turn my creativity into my career.

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

I always try to tie any class project back to the day-to-day industry. Assignments are designed as art tests or freelance jobs. In the Team Production class it’s based on the normal routine of working in a game studio. We have stand-up meetings that follow the SCRUM management style that a lot of game studios use now.

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

I’ve set up my Team Production class like a regular development team, because it’s important that students get a sense of what their typical work day might be like. They have complete control over the project; once they realize they’re in charge, they push themselves harder than normal. I’m there to offer advice, but I want them to listen to their own instincts so they can use all the skills they’ve learned to make their decisions. It empowers students and helps them see where they need to improve.

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

When students hit the workplace after graduation, they won’t be working individually, but as part of a team. Collaboration in the classroom helps them see the impact they have on a project and how they help meet the needs of the team.

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

You have to constantly practice your craft. If you want to succeed, you can’t just do your homework, because your competition is continually perfecting their craft. They work 50 to 60 hours a week at the job you want. And when they get home at night they’re practicing and perfecting and learning new techniques. You have to put in 150% if you want to compete. It sounds daunting and difficult. But if you love what you do, it’s not work—it’s fun and rewarding. And worth every minute you put into it.

Anything else you’d like to share?

This has been one of my most rewarding jobs, because I get to see students grow and realize their potential. And I know I helped them to get there.