Hey, what’s up! my name is Nicholas Piña and I am a 3rd year Graduate student! I’m originally from San Antonio, Texas but I have come to find Savannah a second home. I’m not involved in a lot of clubs but I was Co-Art Director alongside Natalie Gaida on SCAD Animation Studios recent film, Bearly! Outside of that, I’m working on the next SCAD Animation studios making some really wicked stuff!
What area of animation do you enjoy the most and why?
While it is cool to see working rigs in action and lighters creating beautiful shadows and colors in a scene, I personally am the most inspired when I get to collaborate with other talented artists in the pre production stage of development. Being able to design characters and worlds based off of a few vague ideas or lines of text is a great springboard for getting creative. This is where being wild and out there pays off since there is no set style or direction for the film at this point. Seeing how other artists interpret the same prompts is always a great way to generate new ideas and build excitement for the project at a early stage. I try to hold onto that initial excitement for the rest of production as motivation for myself and my team.
What is a challenge that you’ve had to overcome?
I think the biggest challenge I have had to overcome as a artist was finding a artistic voice. I was always trying to copy my favorite artists or replicate the work of other concept and visual development artists. I learned a lot about painting and lighting by studying art from industry professionals, but along the way I realized something. If I am merely copying other artists, what would be the point of hiring me? This encouraged me to find my own artistic voice which allowed me to discover what I was passionate about. I still reference plenty of other talented artists and copy their techniques but I make it a point to filter it through my own artistic lens.
What advice would you give yourself as a freshman?
Stay true to what inspires you and drives you creatively. Art is supposed to showcase the individuality of the person behind it regardless of it being made for a studio or a client. The personality behind the artwork is just as if not more important than the quality of the work that is created. Injecting personality into art is when it becomes unique and exciting. I know I am always excited whenever a character wears some really cool shoes or has a cool pin or badge on their jacket or hat. These little touches are the bits of the team’s personality bleeding through the project making it feel more human. Embrace what is different about you and find ways to showcase your artistic vision with every task you are given.
What inspires you during a difficult project?
Whenever I get stuck in a artistic rut I try to find a small aspect of the project that I really enjoy put as much effort as I can into exploring it. It may be something as small as a shoe or a trash can but by giving these small objects character you can find yourself reinvigorated with the project. Not every aspect of a project will be fun and exciting, but you can always find a way to inject your own bits of fun and personality in the work you are given.
What experiences have stood out to you?
There are a lot of things that come to mind but what stands out to me the most was working in a team environment. Whether it’s SCAD Animation Studios, student films, or fun side projects, being able to work together with other artists has been a absolute pleasure. Everyone that I have met in the graduate and undergraduate program is excited to create and extremely talented in their own unique way. I have learned as much inside the classroom as I have outside of the classroom through collaboration with my peers. I know that the friendships I have forged while attending SCAD will last far beyond graduation.
What inspires you?
I think one of my biggest inspirations as a artist is looking through concept art books for film and games. I try to comb through them to find the artists who worked on character I liked or painted background that inspired me. This has led me to find talented artists like Robh Ruppel through his work on Tron Uprising, Shiyoon Kim with his character designs in Big Hero 6, and Cory Loftis with his incredible concepts from Zootopia. From there I try to figure out whose work inspired these artists and the cycle continues from there.
What classes have you enjoyed, and why?
I really enjoyed the Collaborative film class. I think that being tasked with making a film from scratch in a single quarter is extremely rewarding. I worked with a small team of other extremely talented artists and create environment concepts, storyboards, layouts, and character designs in just a few weeks. The 3d team took everything both me and my fellow concept artist, Leah Trumble, created and brought it to life in a fantastic way! I look back on those ten weeks with a bit of wonder. While watching the premiere for the film I couldn’t believe that it was actually finished. It was a sprint from start to finish but getting to work on this project let me make so many new friends.
What has your favorite project been during your time at SCAD?
Hands down, SCAD Animation Studios. I would highly recommend anyone who is interested in working in a studio environment to apply for the class. You meet a lot of incredible people and you get a lot of great portfolio work out of it. Professor Warman does a great job running the class and helps encourage every team member to excel and achieve their best. I improved significantly over the course of a few months and met so many amazing people along the way.
Do you have a favorite animated movie?
Without a doubt one of my favorite animated films is the Dam Keeper. The director duo of Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi have created some incredibly beautiful animated shorts. The attention to lighting, storytelling, and worldbuilding make it a absolute pleasure to watch. If I ever am in a rut and need to be inspired I crack open the art book to get reinvigorated by the incredible concepts and ideas inside.
When in your life did you decide to choose animation as a career?
I think the big turning point for me was going to a lecture in high school and hearing the speaker talk about how people spend their time. He said that whatever you spend your spare time doing, researching, learning, and thinking about without anybody telling you is what is truly driving you in your life. I sat down and evaluated where my time went and I found my school notes, extracurricular activity sheets, and homework pages had drawings on them. I was always thinking about drawing in the back of my mind and I used any opportunity I had to express these thoughts with pencil and paper. I realized that this wasn’t going to stop anytime soon so I figured it would be best to try and do something with it. I talked with my art teacher and she helped guide me towards the fantastical world of art in animation.
What are some things you enjoy doing in your free time?
Whenever I get a chance I try to play some video games or go out skateboarding for a couple of hours. If I’m not doing that, I’m probably out taking pictures for reference or out hunting for cool hidden spots in whatever city I’m at. I’m also a big fan of trying out weird and crazy food so if you need a friend to eat something wild with you I am your guy!
Thanks Nick! Make sure to check out Nick’s socials for more of his work: