Otto Lai

Otto Lai

Show up on time, do quality work, and be friendly. Otto Lai , Media Arts Instructor , The Art Institute of California—San Diego, a campus of Argosy University

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

In 1995, I was an intern at MTV Animation working on Beavis and Butthead. Watching the artists at work, how they dressed, and how they decorated their work spaces had a big impact on me. I knew I needed to work in a creative environment like that.

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

In my Media Arts classes, I share stories about how things work in the professional world, including everyday things like how to ask for a raise—to give students a sense of what they can expect when they enter the industry.

What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?

Every project—even the smallest homework assignment—relates to tasks students might do on the job. For example, we work on naming conventions for deliverables like a QuickTime movie or image file. I motivate students by showing them examples of quality work and impressing upon them that it’s within their reach.

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

Collaboration plays a huge part in the professional media arts world. Teaming up on projects here in school helps students understand how important communication is to the quality of that project.

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

Show up on time, do quality work, and be friendly.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Teaching is my passion.