When I met Jayadev, the Game art faculty member at Backstage Pass, for the first time, he looked like a bouncer to me. Sorry for my perception. Heavy, stocky, well-built but one thing was missing. The stern look that is so typical of a bouncer. Instead, he had a broad smile on his face that lit his face brilliantly and even the room. That made all the difference.
The time flew as we started chatting and the next hour of our meeting took me through a journey of his life. When we called it a day, I knew that I came in touch with a poster boy for making it big with art, in a country where many look down upon art as something that can’t help live a prosperous life.
Jayadev loved to draw as a kid. His father, a government employee, was very supportive. He encouraged Jayadev to draw and draw more and draw even more. However, his mother was concerned that how her boy would have a bright career if he were so much into Game art.
Dev’s tryst with art started when a friend sent a copy of the Maya software from Australia. Dev would endlessly play with it enjoying what the software would let him do. The summer after his +2, Dev’s dad promptly took him to his friend and the Principal of the Heart Animation Academy and the famous cartoonist, Mr. Jayadev. Later he cleared the national entrance exam of the Heart Animation Academy and joined the same. Even as he was pursuing art full-time, the academy set up a 3D animation centre. It was only natural for Dev to learn the 3D animation centre. Heart Animation Academy gave him a glimpse of the utility of gaming in fields such as entertainment. Not to mention, the young Dev was blown away.
Dev joined Dataquest Entertainment, Hyderabad as a Junior Animator in 2004 and started teaching art at Arena Multimedia as a part-time faculty. In due course, he became a full-time faculty member and later the Centre Head. Today he stands certified by over 20 different software vendors such as Adobe and Maya.
Life was good and Dev wanted to pursue his studies. He looked for a school that would offer a B.F.A. recognized by the Universities Grants Commission (UGC). Meanwhile, Dev came in touch with Backstage Pass. When he met Professor Balakrishna, Bala immediately offered him a faculty position. After long years of teaching digital arts, the Backstage Pass position was the logical next step. And Dev joined Backstage Pass as a faculty in 2013.
Dev teaches game design and game art including 2D and 3D animation, art history, image editing, rigging, lighting and texturing, digital sculpting and so on.
When I asked Dev about what does it take for a student to be successful in an art-based career, he says: “Students of art are typically shy. They are inward-looking. But the gaming industry needs people who are also outward-looking, that is communicative. Also, one cannot teach art or music to a student. The student should have a certain innate capability to pursue Game art. Then we add the tools to adopt the art to the digital world.”
He adds, “We find it difficult to get good students in art. How many schools conduct art classes and music classes? And the gaming industry needs artists and musicians in large numbers. I don’t find them in a regular school. Kids who study art and music on their own come to us because they are passionate about their interest.”
I had one last question, “Dev, what did your students teach you?” He laughs…“Patience. When I joined Arena as a faulty member, most of my students were at least 3 years elder to me. To command them, I had to be patient, demo my skills as a teacher, and then make them follow me. That process taught me patience. Patience is fundamental to the success of an artist in this industry. Works of art, animation films that are classics are made etched with great care.”
After my chat, I left for home. When I went to bed that night, I had a smile darting on my lips. And deep in my heart, I realized for the umpteenth time, if you follow your passion, life follows you and that I can ask parents to go around chin up if the child is good only in art or music.
Surya Prabha Vallae for Backstage Pass