Interviews and stories by Chelsea Garner-Ferris
Ringling students don’t mess around—they are dedicated to achieving their dreams as professional artists and designers from the moment they step on campus to the day they graduate.
And they go above and beyond to attain their goals by connecting with recruiters, attending presentations and portfolio reviews, working with our Center for Career Services (a resource available to our graduates for life!), landing internships, giving back to the community through volunteerism, and participating in real-world work with real-world clients through our Collaboratory Commitment programs.
After all of that work, who wants to wait to jump into their chosen careers? Well, thanks to their own work and the opportunities they find here at Ringling College, many of our graduates don’t have to. Here are just a few of the 2020 alumni who made the leap from student to professional within 60 days of graduation.
Beatriz (Bea) Correia Lima
Graduated: May 2020
Hired: June 2020
Junior Motion Designer, Make LLC, Minneapolis, MN
Beatriz, or Bea, as she’s known to her family and friends, grew up in Lisbon, Portugal. She completed her first two years of high school there and was then accepted into the United World College (UWC) Robert Bosch College International Baccalaureate program in Freiburg, Germany – a member of its very first entering class in 2014. She had always been drawn to both music and the visual arts, two passions that she further explored as a UWC student surrounded by peers from all over the world. When she applied to colleges, Bea had the opportunity to apply to Ringling College of Art and Design as a UWC Davis Scholar, and she was accepted and jumped at the opportunity to attend.
“When I arrived for my first year at Ringling, it was definitely a culture shock,” Bea recalls. “Everything was so much bigger coming from Europe – the roads, the food portions – it was overwhelming at times being so far away from home!” But the international community at Ringling helped her overcome her doubts. She channeled her insecurities into community involvement, starting and joining several clubs and organizations, including the Green Ambassadors, who work on Ringling’s sustainability and impact on the environment, and the International Cultures Club, which focused on cultural education and integration through movie nights, open mics and coffee house events, and the yearly International Education Week fest. Bea was also very involved with the College’s television channel and production team, ART Network.
Bea credits the Motion Design faculty for much of her professional success. Working with Department Head Ed Cheetham, Sound Designer Kelly Warner, and others, Bea says she was encouraged to pursue projects that she was passionate about, even if they seemed daunting. “I have always been interested in many different things, so Motion Design was always the best fit for me. It allowed me to combine my love for music and art.” Her senior thesis project was focused around music; she composed and produced a Portuguese song and then recorded a music video. “Ringling taught me not only the art and design skills, but also the skills to be a professional and to have a strong work ethic – important traits that go beyond talent and technical skill,” she says.
Now based in Minneapolis, Bea is currently concentrating on graphics and design for motion, mostly animating in 2D for the studio MAKE, LLC She was recently awarded a grant to compose and perform an original piece of music, a passion project that has carried over from her senior thesis. You can stream her song, Amor Ingrato, on Spotify or any other streaming platform. When asked what advice she has for current students at Ringling, Bea says this: “College is often harder than real life in a lot of ways. You have to remember to relax, try to stay healthy and happy – you’ll get through it and when you do, it will be all good!”
Graduated: May 2020
Hired: June 2020
Junior Environment Artist, Vicarious Visions – Activision, Albany, NY
Mary knew from a very early age that she wanted to study game art, but she struggled in the beginning to find the right school and the right program. It was during Ringling College of Art and Design’s Preview Day that she knew she had found the perfect fit. “Everyone on campus was so passionate, welcoming, and friendly,” remembers Mary. “The games that the students were creating were just amazing, and the campus was so bright and beautiful. I knew right then that I wanted to go there.”
It was clear from the beginning that the Game Art program was arduous and intense – but she welcomed it. Faculty like Marty Murphy and Ryland Loncharich really pushed her and her peers beyond their limits so that they could reach their maximum potential, which was critical to their development as artists.
Mary says she always knew that Ringling could offer what other schools simply couldn’t – those golden opportunities with top industry recruiters and employers. In her senior year, Mary and her thesis partner were selected to represent Ringling College at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) Intel University Games 2020 competition, placing third with their fantasy adventure game, Ozias. After that she was contacted by Epic Games, and then encouraged to enter The Rookies competition, where Ozias was recognized as a finalist for Game of the Year. “There’s a lot you can learn online about Game Art, but the opportunities that were available to me through Ringling were invaluable. I would not have had those experiences if I had gone anywhere else.”
Because of those unique opportunities that Ringling offers, and because she took full advantage of them, Mary had a full-time position secured in April 2020, a month before she had even graduated. A recruiter from Sledgehammer (a division of Activision) came to campus and met with Game Art students. When the recruiter asked Mary if he could send her portfolio out to other Activision studios, she said, “yes, of course!” And the rest is history. The next day she was contacted by a recruiter from Vicarious Visions and a month later she got the call with a job offer. “That had always been my goal – to get a job right after graduation. So to have secured one before was just incredible.”
As a junior environment artist, Mary is currently working with two teams on her current project. They have weekly meetings, collaborating and giving each other feedback. She concentrates on set dressing, modeling, bug fixes, and making sure the overall 3D environments look seamless using Maya, Substance Designer, and Unreal Engine.
If she could give advice to current students, or to her younger, first-year self, it would be: “Work smarter, not harder. Get lots of sleep and don’t lose sight of why you’re at Ringling. The whole environment is built for you to thrive – your teachers, your peers, the community – they want you to succeed, but you have to work hard. That’s probably the best thing about Ringling, and being with a community of artists who are on the same path as you. Always have fun with what you’re doing and it will turn out great.”
Graduated: May 2020
Hired: May 2020
Associate Visual Designer at Sharecare Reality Lab, Sarasota, FL
Sophia is currently working at Sarasota’s Sharecare Reality Lab, a job she absolutely loves, and she credits Ringling College of Art and Design and its supportive campus community for helping her get there so fast. While she was still in high school, Sophia remembers a Ringling admissions counselor visiting her school and giving a presentation. “I had never really thought about pursuing art schools until then,” Sophia admits, “but seeing all of the amazing work the students were doing and the connections they had really grabbed my attention.” She decided to apply on a whim, was accepted, and then attended Ringling’s Accepted Student Day. She was hooked.
Initially, Sophia came to Ringling as a Computer Animation major. In her sophomore year, wanting to branch out in her practice and explore different mediums, she switched to Illustration, picking up a Visual Development minor in her third year. Sophia says she is really happy she had the confidence and support to make the switch. Working with the Illustration faculty, she built a strong foundation and diverse portfolio. “All of the faculty were invaluable, and Iliya Mirochnik was particularly instrumental in helping me understand and interpret the human figure – which has helped me so much in my current role working with the human body, art, and medicine.”
Working at Sharecare Reality Lab, Sophia utilizes all of her skill sets and then some. She works as part of a team to create medically accurate anatomy, physiology, disease, and treatment simulations in 3D, which can also be viewed in virtual reality. Medical illustrations, concept art, graphic, and UI/UX design are just some of the areas to which she contributes. She notes that, because of her existing design foundation, she was able to pick up the additional skills and software programs quickly. “I had never even thought of combining medicine and art, but now I am so grateful and humbled to use what I learned at Ringling to help doctors and patients all over the world.”
Sophia says she is so grateful to be part of the Ringling community. “All of my peers helped me tremendously,” she says. “You spend so much time together, in the labs and on campus, the environment fosters and fuels creativity and talent in so many ways. I was always learning something new, every single day, from my peers.” She says the community at Sharecare reminds her of the community at Ringling – supportive, collaborative, and fun!
She would tell current students to always surround themselves with hardworking and dedicated contemporaries. “I think people tend to underestimate the power of learning from others,” she adds. “It can give you a fresh perspective and it’s so inspiring to see what others are interested in. Always stay curious and open to new things!”
Graduated: May 2020
Hired: May 2020
Junior 2D Animator, BUCK, Los Angeles, CA
“Before Ringling, I was never really into art,” Zac says. “I actually avoided taking art classes in high school!” He was into video games though, and eventually he and a few friends started their own YouTube channel, making videos about the editing process and creating short films. They quickly garnered a fan base and Zac started to realize how much he enjoyed the film and animation process.
At that point, though, art was still just a hobby. He was into neurology and was really good with numbers and statistics. In one of his design classes at school, his teacher told him about Ringing College of Art and Design. Eventually, Zac found his way to Ringling’s Preview Day on campus, which then resulted in his attending the PreCollege program over the summer. There he learned about the Motion Design department and how the major would allow him to combine all of the things he loved about animation and film. In the end, he only applied to one school: Ringling College of Art and Design.
Zac reflects on his evolution as an artist at Ringling. “Every year, I was exposed to something new. It was always challenging, but so crucial to learn all of the different skills and programs.” Those skills paid off and he was recruited for an internship at Dash studios in Raleigh, NC his sophomore year. In his junior year, he interned with Gentleman Scholar (GS), an L.A.-based studio. “I absolutely fell in love with L.A. and knew I wanted to be back out there when I graduated,” Zac said. During his senior year, he had a big decision to make: He was offered a full-time, paid position at Gentleman Scholar, where he had previously interned. At the same time, he was offered a position at BUCK, his dream job and one of the top motion design studios in the industry. The catch was that the BUCK position was only an internship – so it was a tough choice.
“It was a really hard, scary decision to make, but, in the end, I knew it had to be BUCK,” he recalls. “It was my dream studio but it meant leaving behind a talented team, great friends, and memories at GS.” It turned out to be the right decision. A few short months after interning with them, BUCK offered him a full-time position as a junior 2D animator.
When Zac looks back at his experience at Ringling, he says it’s important not to close yourself off. “As a motion designer,” he says, “you need to be well-rounded. You’ll do everything – from character animation, to design, to stop-motion – it’s so important not to self-impose your own limits.” Character animation, something he thought initially he would never want to do, is now his favorite. “The foundations I learned at Ringling still help me to this day. Once you know how to animate a character, you can animate anything!”
Graduated: May 2020
Hired: June 2020
Storyboard Artist, DreamWorks TV, Glendale, CA
Ariel is currently living her dream, working as a storyboard artist for DreamWorks Television. As a young girl, she was always into animation, particularly of the Disney and Cartoon Network variety. When it came time to apply to college, she wasn’t even looking at Ringling College of Art and Design as an option, but was concentrating more on traditional, 2D-based animation programs. It was her mom who convinced her to apply.
Once she was accepted and visited the Florida campus, Ariel decided Ringling was the best place for her. It wasn’t just the beautiful surroundings and the weather, though. “I really appreciated the Computer Animation program,” she says. “As a student, you learn the entire process starting with observational drawing and traditional animation. Then they take you through the entire 3D animation pipeline, which really prepares you for entering the industry.”
Ariel worked with Ringling’s Center for Career Services to develop her portfolio, practice her interviewing skills, and learn how to network. Her DreamWorks opportunity came as a result of her networking efforts shortly after she had graduated. “An industry contact told me about an opening they [DreamWorks] had and he recommended me,” Ariel recalls. “The recruiter approached me and that was it!”
As a storyboard artist, Ariel works as part of a team to create the visual representations of an initial script for a particular story or an episode. Typically, she will start to draw scenes out as thumbnails, which are then turned into rough boards. Those boards are then pitched, feedback is taken into account, and eventually the story boards go into editorial and production where sound and animatics are added. “It’s a very heavy workload, but I love it,” she says. “I like having the opportunity to collaborate with my team, but also being able to maintain a certain amount of autonomy and self-direction in my job.”
Ariel approaches her professional role similarly to how she worked at Ringling. She says that maintaining a healthy and balanced lifestyle is critical for her mind and her focus. “It’s a really intense program at Ringling, but I always knew I was in the right place – I love all of the different parts of animation and being able to communicate stories through art and then bringing them to life.”