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Art and Art History

Michael Ojdana

Why did you decide to major in art and art history?

I’ve always been interested in art from a young age and in high school I had some success in my AP art courses. I knew going into college that I wanted to study art but also get a well-rounded liberal arts education. I could do both of those things at Lake Forest.

What was your most memorable course and why?

Advanced Computer Imaging. I had always been very interested in drawing and graphic design, but in this class I was able to take the design skills I had learned in those 2D disciplines and apply them to video. This led into my interest in animation that would eventually become my career focus. This course taught us the foundations of editing with Final Cut Pro and allowed us to explore all of the tools used to manipulate video.

Was there a particular project or assignment that was especially rewarding or important for you?

I had a lot of rewarding projects because my professors always allowed me to pursue my interest in digital art and put my own spin on assignments to push my skills or learn new tools. My most rewarding project however was my senior thesis. It was a project that was completely my own and involved a lot of time and hard work. In the work world, deadlines are strict and clients want their projects completed yesterday. I learned during my senior thesis about the hard work and long hours that are necessary to create a product that I was proud of and represented me well. It also taught me that sometimes work can be “good enough” and that perfection isn’t always possible.

How did your art and art history major prepare you for your career?

My studio art major prepared me for my career because:

- It supplied me with a solid design foundation
- I learned a wide variety of disciplines (from writing to web design to graphic design to video)
- I learned how to give and take critique

I have found that this combination of attributes have allowed me to stand out at my company. Employers are looking for people who can fill a large number of roles. The more talents you have, the more valuable you will be.

How did your art-related internship prepare your career path?

I did three internships while at Lake Forest. The first was at LPK, a brand development firm, the second was with a publishing company as a web design intern, and the third was at HDR, an engineering company as a marketing intern. I was able to do one of these for academic credit. The rest helped to build my resume and give me a better idea of the type and size of company that I wanted to work for.

How would you describe your transition from Lake Forest College to post-graduate life?

Smooth. I was accepted into graduate school to study 3D animation during the end of my senior year at Lake Forest. Then, immediately following grad school, I accepted a position working in that field in Portland, Oregon. I’ve now been working with the same company for about 5 years and have gradually been working my way up in management and leadership positions.

What advice do you have for current or prospective students considering study in art and art history?

If it’s something that you are passionate about, I strongly suggest studying art at Lake Forest. Work hard and be open to receiving critique from everyone. I also highly recommend combining the class work with an internship to learn what it takes to be an artist in the real world.

More information to share?

On top of the art major, Lake Forest has a lot to offer in general. Get involved with as much as you can. You never know what you’ll be interested in or the valuable connections you’ll make.