Jon Di Venti is not only the Chair of our Digital Media department in our Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) program, he is one of our own. Jon started his journey as a student at PCA&D (then the Pennsylvania School of Art & Design) where he graduated from our Illustration program, which at the time only offered students an Associates degree. Jon then moved on to Ringling College of Art & Design and obtained his BFA in Illustration.
Throughout his education, he grew more in love with the medium of animation and gradually tailored his portfolio to reflect the skill sets necessary to work in 2D animation. At first it was a little rough and right after graduation he worked in construction but continued doing freelance illustration work and applying for jobs at various studios. All of the hard work paid off when he landed a job at a studio in New York City that creates animatics for TV commercials.
While it was a great learning experience for Jon, it became clear that it was not exactly the type of work he wanted to pursue and after six months, he left his full-time position but continued to work for the studio on a freelance basis.
Soon after, he came across a job post for an adjunct teaching position at Ringling, and while teaching was not something he had intended to do, he decided to apply. After reviewing his application he was invited to instead apply for a full-time position teaching Visual Development in the Computer Animation department. Without hesitation, he said yes!
Jon was offered the position which led to a 9 year career at the college. Florida, however, just never felt like home. As he began to search for opportunities closer to family in the Northeast, PCA&D was getting ready to launch the digital media program as a new major. Jon kept in touch, and now he is the Chair! We all agree that it has been exciting to reconnect with Jon and watch him work his magic with our digital media program. Let's get to know Jon even better.
Tell us about about the digital media department?
JD: Digital media is the youngest major at the college. We’ve seen a steady increase of applicants and an ever-evolving and improving curriculum. We’ve been able to secure mentorships for our students with experienced industry professionals from major animation and gaming studios. Our list of our visiting artists includes Aaron Blaise (veteran Disney animator and director), Armand Serrano (Sony Pictures/Disney Animation visual development artist), Ian Burkhard (Blue Sky Studios), Emily Springer (Dreamworks Animation), and many others.
What are the characteristics of students who are most successful in your department?
JD: The most successful digital media students are driven, responsible, and of course, talented. A strong foundation in drawing and design are essential for success in the program, but strong artistic skills alone will not ensure success. Animation and gaming are highly collaborative and time consuming, and therefore it is important for students to be team players, strong communicators, and open to constructive criticism (both giving and receiving).
What type of career paths do students in your department take after graduation?
JD: Rather than specializing in a single discipline (such as 3D modeling, character animation, etc.), our program is designed to provide students with a broad skill set that covers various areas of the digital animation and gaming pipelines. Therefore, our students will be equipped to pursue positions in character animation, layout, 3D modeling, level design, visual development, storyboarding, and more.
Share a favorite memory from your experience teaching at PCA&D.
JD: Seeing our first class of digital media students graduate and present their senior projects at Senior Show & Celebration.
If there was one thing you wanted students considering PCA&D and your department to know about the college, what would it be?
JD: I would want prospective digital media students to know that there is no hot key for art making. The technology we use is simply a tool, and a strong foundation in the fundamentals of art and design are necessary for a successful career in the various digital media fields.