Brian Kerr

Media Arts & Animation

The Illinois Institute of Art — Schaumburg

Brian Kerr

Be a problem solver. Brian Kerr , Faculty , The Illinois Institute of Art — Schaumburg
What would you say is the defining moment in your life when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

Since I was young I would love to draw my favorite cartoon and video game characters, as well as make little comic strips. The time where I knew this was something I wanted to do as a profession was in middle school when my best friend and I would make comedy and music albums together. We would create all of the CD cover art, make up production company logos, and even made sure there were barcodes on the album back like the ones in the store. That was the time where I knew I was serious about moving into a creative field as a profession. 

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 currently work in the industry in addition to teaching, which allows me to be up to date on current industry trends and needs. One of the best things is that I constantly have new stories to bring up in class about my job that I can directly relate to the content I am teaching. Instead of just stressing a certain point in class with no additional context, I can speak to specific examples at my job where these issues came up. I think this provides a very real-world perspective to the challenges students will face in the workforce and helps breed good practices while in school.  

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?

The midterm project for my Dynamics & Simulations involves the students creating a Rube Goldberg machine in our 3D software and using physics simulations to animate everything. It involves making little tweaks to a lot of different settings to get things to operate how they want. This really gets the students into problem solving mode which, in my opinion, is the single most important skill to have.

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

Being able to work as a team is important because they will be doing it every day at their job. Collaborating in school more accurately reflects how things work in the real world. In the animation program we regularly try to tap the talents of audio students to produce the sound for us because we recognize that is not where our expertise is.

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?

Be a problem solver. The most valuable that you can bring to a company is to be someone who can figure out what to do when you don’t know what to do. Being proactive and finding solutions to problems is invaluable to any employer. 

What was the inspiration for your artwork?

These are models of various items such as a 1968 Ford Mustang Fastback, Rolex Daytona “Paul Newman” watch, and Fender Telecaster and Reverb amplifier. 

I really enjoy doing high-poly hard surface modeling, which was the reasoning behind these modeling pieces. For the objects themselves, ever since I started going to the vintage car shows in my wife’s hometown in Wisconsin I have loved automotive design. I am also very big into watches and this one in particular is a nod to racing culture as it was the one Paul Newman received as a gift from his wife when he started racing.

How can people find out more about you and your artwork?

Brian's Website