Me and Mom.
I found myself with some downtime between homework assignments, so I decided to finally update this section.
My name is Nilah. I’m really bad at profiles.
I started this blog the year I enrolled at Ringling College of Art and Design as a transfer sophomore. I was 25.
I was born and raised in Maryland. Most animation majors will probably tell you they grew up on Disney films and video games. When I think of my childhood in animation, I think of Don Bluth, Watership Down, Animal Farm, The Magic Pony, and a number of Canadian and Japanese productions I was exposed to while never knowing what I was watching.
But seeing the preview of The Lion King on the newly released Aladdin VHS was the moment my future became clear.
I love animals, fantasy fiction, writing, and roleplaying (online, not video game RPGs). If not for the art, I’d fancy myself a writer. This way I’m able to do a bit of both.
I graduated high school, still undecided on what college I wanted to go to. After a bit of confusion, I decided to attend the Art Institute of Washington (Media Arts and Animation). After a bit more confusion, I realized that AiW wasn’t for me and I transferred to Hood College. I majored in a more versatile major, Communication Arts, to pursue a love of journalism I never knew I had until it was thrust upon me. As a student I wrote for The Gazette and interned at Frederick Magazine. In my senior year I took a drawing class in the school’s art department, which led to me picking up a second major in art – thanks to transfer credit from AiW. After graduation I moved on to a marketing position with a trade association in Virginia.
The Purpose of this Blog
It’s mostly a chronicle of my time as a student at Ringling, for posterity’s sake. But also, I hope it can serve as a resource for current and prospective students. I remember when I was applying I felt a little blind, not knowing anything about the school or Sarasota, putting my portfolio together, Ringling’s non-traditional age student population, or even if computer animation was right for me. Maybe my journey will help someone else – or at the very least, my pathetic attempts at wit and insight will give you a laugh.
Why did I decide to go back to school?
I think in my heart I always wanted to tell stories in one way or another, and that desire manifested itself as a love for animation. But I never thought I could become an animator, so I threw myself into more respectable pursuits (music, academics). In my junior year of high school I visited University of the Arts for a P/SAT Prep class project and discovered they had an animation program.
I also discovered that, having never taken a high school art class, I had no portfolio and no way of applying for any art program. I left high school discontented. I was accepted into a few schools for accounting and computer science, but I couldn’t go knowing that I’d be turning my back on art.
The next year I found out about AiW and was able to enroll without so much as a portfolio review. I thought it was a Godsend… but if AiW taught me anything, it’s that becoming an animator isn’t easy. Leaving AiW was the best thing I could have done. I’m not sure if I would have any future in animation if I’d stayed.
But also, it brought me to Hood. I learned a lot about myself, and people, there. I also met Joyce Michaud, head of Hood’s very small art department. I asked for her help in preparing to apply to animation programs.
She told me to apply to Ringling. She really didn’t give me a choice in the matter, actually….
I applied and was accepted for the fall 2006 program. After my 5-6 year struggle to pursue animation, you’d think I would’ve jumped on board right then, but I was nervous about the financial commitment. Ringling is a lot of money. I decided to hold off for a year… and it was one of the most agonizing waits of my entire life.
I completed my education at Ringling and graduated with a B.F.A. in Computer Animation. Now, it’s on to the next stage of my life.