Jonathan Owens, CTS-D

Jonathan Owens

Don’t let the day-to-day struggles keep you from being passionate about your craft. Jonathan Owens, CTS-D , 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?

I grew up as a musician playing multiple instruments. My defining moment was early on in school when I began gravitating towards creative projects and classes like music, photography, and film making. My defining moment for what I currently do today (Audiovisual and Acoustic design) came during college as I started to learn more about the science and technology behind audio and video.

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?

My professional background includes working as an Audio Engineer in recording studios for music and sound design, sound designer for independent films, and live sound tech. Currently, I am an audiovisual and acoustic design consultant. As a design consultant, I need to be on the forefront of the latest technology being used in architectural projects being designed. These projects may not be complete for another 2-3 years. This gives me the opportunity to weave this trending knowledge into my classes so students can also be on the cusp of current and future technology trends. I will also base assignments, projects, and in-class work around these current trends. 

I tell my students that I am not going to treat them like college students but professionals in training and mentoring, so I will build my lessons and assignments with actual industry expectations so that, upon completion, the students will have a better understanding of what the industry is going to expect from them.  

Is there a class assignment that exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring? 

The recording assignments I give my students are not strictly defined. There are a loose set of guidelines and best practices they need to follow, but they are open to record and mix how they choose. This allows the student to be creative and development their signature, while teaching them about the industry standards and professional techniques that can be used to enhance their creative drive. I find that these types of assignments are more enjoyable for the students and yield the best results. 

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

Some class work and assignments are designed to get students working together in pairs or teams. For recording applications, one would be the assistant engineer and the other the lead. This gives the students practice in both roles. Students need to be able to delegate tasks to be efficient and get the assignment done on time. Using assignments that also require coordination with other programs means that the student will need to manage schedules for audio, video, animation, etc. Jobs in the audio industry rarely rely solely on audio, so collaboration with other sectors is very important.  

What is the most critical advice you would offer any student as he / she embarks on a creative career?

I try to impart students with a sense of passion for what I do so that they too can be excited and passionate about their future. The way I teach gives students a sense that the professional arena cares about the future generations and wants them to learn the right skills so that the industry stays strong. It’s less competitive than students may think and is more about networking and building relationships. 

Some critical advice I can offer is that hard work and proper time management is crucial. You never want to lose the drive and passion. Don’t let the day-to-day struggles keep you from being passionate about your craft. The technical skills can be honed and practiced, but passion and good time management are rare, but can be a great combo.

Is there anything else you'd like us to know about you, your experience, or your role as a faculty member at The Art Institutes?

As a former graduate of ILIA—Schaumburg,  I believe in the program and the results that can come from taking education seriously. I try to help the students understand that the program isn’t easy and takes hard work but, in the end, it will teach you skills that can be used to greatly help your chances in succeeding. The education is only one variable in the equation. The others are all about the individual’s drive and motivation to use those skills to succeed.