Darius Brown, MADAS 2015, is a Lecturer at the University of Florida. He received his education from the University of North Carolina, East Carolina University, and the University of Florida before beginning his current role as an educator. Darius specializes in 2-D animation, compositing, video editing, and talent management for production.
In what ways did your Digital Arts and Sciences experience prepare you for your career?
The first way was being prepared with pre-production and working with clients. I started off early in the summer, and I took advantage of this opportunity before I even started my graduate school at Digital Worlds. Through working, I quickly realized how important my background in customer service was. I had worked retail before and done digital arts on the side, but the combination of both went a long way. It was a skill set I realized I needed to really latch on to: in addition to obviously making cool stuff and making us look good, is to help the customer value the process of what it’s like to work with an expert in the field, to be able to trust that you know what you’re doing, and to make the experience of it enjoyable. Like “Hey, let us not just make them happy with the end product. Let’s make them enjoy the experience to get there because they want to come back and do it again.” So Digital Worlds prepared me in that way early on — before getting into the classroom, I was thrown into working with clients that value that type of stuff, and understanding that they valued it made me pay more attention.
What do you like about your current career?
Whenever I have the chance to create something from the ground up and solve a problem, problems that we didn’t even know could be solved. Or to manifest something that was totally a pipe dream and you bring it to fruition. The most rewarding, coolest part is taking something from scratch and making it useful for someone out there, especially when you know it wasn’t just a recipe or task list that was handed you. It was a process between you and the team.
What are some of your favorite memories from when you were in the program?
Some good memories were the group projects and just hanging out late at night with like-minded individuals, working on a very demanding project. It allowed us to get to know each other and each other’s skill sets. There was a group of four where we all took turns making dinner for one another, hanging out at each other’s houses, and getting to know each other. Working on this project that you know, outside of the class, we thought could blow up into something greater. That didn’t happen, but nothing but positive experiences with the camaraderie.
My thesis project was also very demanding, and it gave me the opportunity to branch outside into a new field. My project involved dentistry, and I went in knowing nothing about dentistry in the medical field. When I went to the College of Dentistry, they were just so willing to help a kid that literally sent out random emails and knocked on people’s office doors saying “Hey, I’m building this project, and I suck at this part. Would you mind being on my thesis committee?” or “Can I just show you my work progress and we keep tabs on where I’m at?” No one said no. Everyone was like, “Yeah, this is cool. I like this idea.”
What advice would you give to current students?
In whatever field or industry you want to be a part of, allow yourself to be in a position where people can’t tell you no, even if they wanted to, even if they didn’t have the budget, even if they didn’t have room for you with an extra desk. Check off all the boxes to where they just can’t refuse your abilities, versatility, or skill set because it’s like “I don’t know if this type of person or artist will come along again.” Try to think about what those things are for you as an artist, and work towards that regardless. A lot of doors and things will open up for you, just with that type of goal.