Reid Winfrey, Associate Professor, is the Director of Digital Art and Animation at Cogswell. A graduate of the University of California at Davis and San Jose State University, he holds a Master of Fine Arts Degree in Printmaking and Pictoral Arts. He has presented at conferences and museums on topics ranging from printmaking and curating fine art to creativity and the digital revolution in art. His work as a painter is in hundreds of private collections and has been exhibited throughout the United States and in England and Japan. He is represented in public and corporate collections including Kodak, Union Bank of California, The San Jose Symphony, Dupont, and Southern Illinois University. He is listed in Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers, has been the subject of numerous art reviews.
Professor Winfrey was the Producer of 10,000 Kites, a short, animated film written by Iain McCaig and created at Cogswell for use as a fundraising tool for a joint Israeli/Palestinian art project. He is also a Line Producer for The Offering, an animated film created at Cogswell that will premier in Beijing in 2009.
What classes do you currently teach? Do you have a favorite class to teach?
I’m currently teaching Figure Drawing I and Concept Design. I have taught Figure here for many years and it is a favorite of mine; I have written a textbook for the class that is nearly done and usable in its current form. One more chapter and I’ll be shopping it for publication, and meanwhile all of my drawing students have copies that are making the class more understandable to them, I hope. I also enjoy Concept Design, mostly because the level of the students is higher and I can enjoy working with them more as opposed to trying to teach core principles.
Have you worked for non-academic companies in the past? Which ones? How did that experience make you a better teacher?
I’ve been a working artist and owned my own business, Presentation Services. I prepared and installed artwork for corporate and private clients for ten years, hanging art in nearly every building in San Jose until 1996. I was also a gallery curator and preparator for many years, so I bring a lot of experience looking at art to the College.
What made you decide that you wanted to teach?
I have wanted to teach art since attending Cabrillo College in the ‘70s. A couple of really good art teachers fueled that fire and I’ve been fortunate to find a position where I can bring my knowledge and experience to young people who can really benefit from my years of sorting out how to do this stuff. It’s incredibly rewarding and I take great pride in the accomplishments of “my kids”.
What projects (personal or professional) are you currently working on?
I’m presently continuing my studio work, mostly painting, and working at marketing the work when I find time. I’m also getting a digital portfolio together and trying to sort out how to organize it. It wasn’t long ago that I was just starting to paint on the computer, and now I have a few hundred images that have to be honed down to a few dozen for presentation. My current hobby is entering digital painting competitions, for fun.
What do you think sets Cogswell apart from other schools teaching similar curriculums? How does a degree help someone pursuing a career in the digital media industries?
Cogswell is about the most unique College I’ve ever seen. We’ve worked relentlessly to create a fun, challenging, and practical program, and we can turn on a dime if we spot a trend in the film or game industry that we believe we can respond to. Unlike a lot of colleges that I have worked in, our graduates have very bright futures and go on to really interesting careers as artists and designers. Studios pay them very nicely for the work that they can accomplish once they’ve finished here at Cogswell, and I’m very proud to have been one of the designers of the program. I used to hear potential students and parents tell me about the kid down the street who learned it all at home and got a high profile job at a major studio, so why come to Cogswell — but those days are long, long gone: the artistic and technical demands simply cannot be learned at home anymore, if that ever actually happened. Studios expect professionals, not self-taught youngsters with a good attitude, and you can only get there by being serious enough to get into a proper program. Like ours.
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