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Hollywood heavyweights duke it out over student talent at Entertainment Design intern show

Early on Sunday morning, the hallways of ArtCenter were magically transformed into a winding gallery of installations created by sleep-deprived Entertainment Design students. The 49 nervous conceptual artists prepared to show their work to top industry employers shopping for talent to hire as summer interns.

Covering the walls and tabletops were prints and displays ranging from environments, architecture and characters, to vehicles and props. The impressive displays all stem from the fertile imagination of students who will go on to create visuals we see in films, video games, animation commercials, TV shows and theme parks.

Tension in the crowd is thick at each annual showcase as the opportunity to gain hands-on experience is crucial to their growth. The event offers a unique networking experience to students at all levels.

If you focus on story and emotional artwork that will engage the viewer, that’s what people are going to connect with and that’s why people hire.

This year, an extra rush of adrenaline spread amongst the hopefuls because legendary visual futurist and ArtCenter alumnus Syd Mead (BS 59 Transportation) would be in attendance to review their work.

Additional attendees this year were representatives from Disney Interactive; Froghat Studios; History For Hire; Industrial Light & Magic and Skywalker Sound, A Lucasfilm Company; The Weinstein Company; Titmouse; West Studio; and art directors and prop masters on several major motion pictures.

Jia Hao Lin, second term, admits she was scared but excited to participate in her very first Intern Show. “I had trouble at first and kept stuttering as I was talking about my storylines to the first few people, but then I got more used to it,” she said Lin, who is originally from Guangxi, China. Lin does not have any particular company in mind, she feels any offer would be good experience and help her learn new skills. While studying at Pasadena City College, Lin met ArtCenter faculty member Stan Kong (BS 83 Product) who Lin said is “very good at motivating people to work hard.” “He encouraged us to pursue our dreams,” she added.

Unlike Lin, Jason Kang, seventh term, had a very specific company in mind. For years, he dreamed of working for video game powerhouse Blizzard Entertainment. After a strategic campaign of going to gatherings such as San Diego Comic-Con and crashing industry parties to ask people how to break in, he applied. He never imagined he’d get an interview.

Today he holds an enviable position among his classmates because he got a paid internship and works between classes. He still finds it hard to believe. As far as advice for fellow aspiring concept artists, he says working really hard on your portfolio is key but what’s important to the employer is finding someone they can work with. “When you go in for an interview,” he says, that’s when you get a chance to show them how you can contribute to the company and what sort of person you are.”

Did he practice what to say while preparing for his big moment? No.

“What happened was, I was a little emotional since I never expected to get a call after applying,” he says. “I didn’t feel super confidant in my abilities so I was very surprised that they were reaching out to me at all and I was very sincere about how I felt getting a chance to work at Blizzard.” Kang is deeply grateful. “I think the way I expressed that kinda helped in the hiring process.”

“When I first started, I thought they would give me a lot of grunt work. But it turns out they are very generous, they don’t hold back on giving me important work to do. As a cinematics concept artist for the firm, he’s worked on StarCraft II, World of Warcraft, Hearthstone and the upcoming 2015 release of World of Warcraft, which makes for a full resume of solid work experience.

Sporting a bow tie, upper-termer Thomas Zenteno felt good about the day and said highlights for him included having his work critiqued by Mead and meeting Chris Appelhans, the CCO at Froghat Studios. Graduating in the fall, he’s already gained a ton of valuable experience interning at Warner Bros. and Lin Pictures, plus working with companies such as Thinkwell, Disney Channel and Microsoft Corporation.

“The Intern show isn’t as much about getting the internship as it is about getting exposed to the industry,” Zenteno said. “There are a lot of people who remember seeing my work early on, who have watched me improve over the years.”

He is happy to see when a fellow student’s original voice starts to come through in the work. “If you focus on story and emotional artwork that will engage the viewer, that’s what people are going to connect with and that’s why people hire.”