School of Visual Arts (SVA) prides itself on the quality and diversity of the adjunct faculty body: it works closely with industry professionals, who get to share their expertise and knowledge directly in the school’s classrooms.
SVA’s BFA Animation; BFA Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual Effects; and MFA Computer Arts programs look deeply into their alumni network for the best candidates to teach and share their experiences with current students. They were once sitting in those same classrooms learning these skills themselves. The effort is made possible with the support of the SVA Alumni Affairs office, which works with the entire college’s alumni to support their success after graduation.
The SVA BFA Animation, BFA Computer Art, and MFA Computer Arts programs welcome many talented alumni back into their academic community as faculty members. These professionals have a unique insight into the different facets of SVA. They can tell students what they learned at SVA that served them after graduation, as well as teach new skills obtained while working in the industry.
As Jane Nuzzo, SVA’s director of alumni affairs and development, says in a statement:
SVA Alumni Affairs serves as stewards and ambassadors for graduates of the college. Through programs, publications, special events, affinity associations, and promotions, the office maintains active relationships with alumni and encourages them to support SVA’s mission to educate future generations of artists, designers, and creative professionals.
The SVA alumni community is our most treasured asset. When our alumni return to the college as faculty members, they not only impart their invaluable industry knowledge to the next generation of creatives, but they affirm the greater community that we all work to build here. Seeing them give back to their alma mater is a full-circle moment that we regard with pride.
K Downs is an animator, director, and ice cream aficionado who graduated from SVA BFA Animation in 2012. Their clients have included SYFY, Spotify, Habito, Mountain Dew, New Balance, Seamless, Crunchyroll, King Arthur Flour, Warner Brothers, TED Ed, Fox ADHD, Cartoon Network, and Plymptoons.
Some of their animation projects are Magical Girl Friendship Squad, Your Black Friend, and Knife Fight!! Their work has been in festivals and screenings such as Louisiana International Film Festival, Squeaky Wheel, Anim’est International Animation Festival, Animation Block Party, Comic Arts Brooklyn, Conscious Cartoons International Animation Festival, and Athens Animfest. Downs currently teaches Thesis class helping BFA Animation students with their graduation films.
I’ve managed to work in the industry after graduating from SVA since 2012! I’ve worked on many projects including feature films, tv shows, music videos, and commercials. Working on Magical Girl Friendship Squad was a huge highlight in my career — I got to direct and work alongside my friends on a really fun project we all brought our A-game to!
The community from SVA is single-handedly the reason why my career has maintained itself since graduation. Without the people I have met at SVA or through SVA, I wouldn’t be where I am today. The most important thing one can do to keep their career strong is just being nice to people!
The animation community at SVA in my opinion has always been tight-knit and supportive, and it’s nice to see that despite the many years since I’ve been a student, it’s still going strong! My students are really kind and supportive of each other’s work and it’s been really inspiring to see it.
Kun-I Chang graduated from MFA Computer Arts (MFACA) in 2006. His clients have included Viacom, The Mill, Psyop, 1stAveMachine, CBS, and MTV. Chang’s films have been screened at Busan International Film Festival and NYC Independent Film Festival. His work has been honored with a PromaxBDA Award, FX MIX Award, and Webby Award, and at Comic-Con International: San Diego and the Bitfilm Festival.
Chang teaches Motion Graphics ll with the MFA Computer Arts department, refining students’ personal styles and combining the latest 2d and 3d techniques. The course is intended to go beyond the basics of motion graphics and assist students in refining their personal style.
I have worked as a motion design artist after graduating from MFACA: I’ve worked with various shops, both in-house and freelance. In 2018, me and my partner launched Space Rabbit, a boutique creative studio that creates various scope of works including illustration, animation, motion design, photography, and art toys.
I enjoy working with current students very much. I teach one semester to our first-year students, but some of them come back to me asking me to help with their thesis in their second year. This gives me the opportunity to see how they grow not only in my class but also in their entire MFACA life.
MFACA also has a lot of international students. As an immigrant, I know the struggle to make a living in a new country, and this becomes a topic where I can always provide some insight for the students.
Being a teacher, I always need to put myself in the student’s shoes: how to give both my knowledge and experience to my students becomes my challenge.
It’s very fulfilling to see the delighted face of a student when I solve the problem that bothers them. A small percentage of students will keep in touch with me, sharing their postgraduate experience, and some become friends. I believe that’s the best part of being an instructor.
Nick Crist graduated from BFA Computer Art in 2013. His professional roles have included compositor supervisor with The Colony and on-set vfx supervisor with Afterparty VFX. He has worked with The Molecule, Method Studios, Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Showtime, USA Network, and FX Network, and his film and tv credits include Danny Collins, Love the Coopers, Captain Fantastic, Medal of Victory, Money Monster, Urge, Snowden, and The Breaks.
Crist teaches Thesis research and Pre-Production with BFA Computer Art. In these classes, he helps the third-year students create their stories, previsualize their films, and begin making assets and planning their film shoots for their fourth-year thesis films.
Hello! My name is Nick Crist. I am a graduate of the SVA Computer Art department class of 2010 and now work as an instructor at SVA. I also work full-time as a compositing supervisor on episodic (The Stand, Succession, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) and film projects (The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, In the Heights, Tick, Tick … Boom!) in NYC.
I enjoy long walks on the beach and … err, sorry, wrong bio. What I mean to say is that all of my life, I’ve been obsessed with art, storytelling, and problem solving. These three specific facets of creativity were put to the test in my undergrad years at SVA.
During my time as a student, I really appreciated that the SVA professors were working professionals within the industry that I someday hoped to join. This allowed both myself and my fellow peers to tap into a wealth of knowledge on not just the art of the vfx and animation industry, but also the nitty-gritty of how this career works. But without a doubt, the best things I got out of SVA were my lifelong friends who are now my colleagues.
If I’m being honest, I wasn’t the best student. I was keen to learn and to help others, but I struggled with the structure of academia. I take lessons that I’ve learned both through my experience as a professional and as a previous student to help my current students achieve success — not only as an artist, but as an individual.
Everyone has different methods of learning and working. I do my best to cater to both my compositing peers’ and my students’ individual needs to achieve success as a team. Ultimately, that is my passion these days: helping others reach their goals. If I can leave this industry even slightly better than how I found it, then it will have all been worth it in my eyes.
SVA’s alumni faculty are committed to fostering the sense of community that supported them during their studies and afterwards, by educating the school’s students and helping them transition into the industry as their peers. The faculty have used the ways of learning that inspired them while studying with SVA, as well as their shared identities and common struggles, to become more understanding teachers.