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7 Questions for Jared Williamson, Student Rock Star

Jared Williamson is a student at BEAU, enrolled in the BFA in game art program. Here, he shares his reasons for choosing BEAU, plus some advice for getting music gigs in town.

1. Why did you decide to go to BEAU?

I spent several months checking out different universities in the Salt Lake Valley before making the final (and best) decision to enroll at BEAU. These choices included both entertainment arts universities and campuses I had already spent several years at. I was tired of taking the same old classes over and over again that I had paid my dues with in high school, and finally decided to look for a career (and training) that actually interested me. The deal was sealed when I investigated these courses and learned the instructors were people who had come straight from the top of the industry. When I heard BEAU offered a coveted degree in Video Game Art, I knew I had found my home.

BFA in game art, BEAU2. What is your favorite part of your program?

My favorite part of the program is the diversity of learning involved with the degree. I originally thought Game Art would be all computer animation, modelling, etc. Turns out all the basics are involved as well. I have spent two years completing classes in not only computer modeling, but also experienced life drawing, color theory, fundamentals of design, etc. This course really prepares an aspiring video game artist to be the jack of all trades. It also ties in to other interests of mine, such as music production. I have free will to use my electives for the beginning music production classes that pertain to that degree as well, but will also help in the game industry.

3. Any stories about a project or assignment you have had at BEAU?

I have two stories that may shed light on how classes at BEAU really work. In Game Modeling I, we were allowed the freedom to take the material and learning and transform our projects into something that we really wanted to do. The assignment was not simply, “create what the piece of paper tells you to,” but was really a, “you have the knowledge, now create your video game weapon of choice using what you have learned.” This astounded me that we were given the freedom to use our new knowledge to really create something we would do in the industry for a grade. My second story pertains to 3D Design I. Our final project was a group construction that took up a whole corner of a room. This gave us our first real creative experience of having to work as a team while incorporating everyone’s individual ideas. It really allowed everyone to express themselves creatively, while teaching the art of compromise that teamwork has in itself.

4. How did you start your band?

ECS began with three of the original members being the rock and roll friends in high school. We spent our summers and weekends going to concerts and not only loving the music, but really learning it and criticizing it. During that time we spent what little money we had to invest in our beginning instruments and try to do the same thing. After a few ups and downs, we decided to really put the whole thing together and make a real band. We found our permanent members by playing in side projects and finding other musicians who felt the same. In summer of 2003, ECS put together our first practice with permanent members. We left that day with three complete songs, one of which is still played on the radio to this day. It was just a matter of really bringing together a group of guys who not only loved this style of music, but wanted to turn our passion into something more and share it with the world.

5. How do you get music gigs around town? Any advice?

When it comes to getting local gigs, you really have to know your target audience. You don’t want to be a metal band booking a show at a hip hop club, and vice versa. While certain patrons of the venue may still love the show, you will get a much bigger result by doing your homework first. Classify the music you produce. Then spend a few weekends venue-hopping around town. You can even follow word of mouth. Once you know the venues that have the crowds you want to entertain, you can move to the next step. You want to really talk to the musicians that already perform there regularly, as well as the bookers, sound techs, managers, owners, etc., that really run the place. If you begin to know them on a personal level, they will be inclined to help you out and hook you up. After all, your success means their success as well. You will eventually have your own repertoire of venues that you can book shows at and begin to build a fan base. Always keep an eye out on local newspapers and magazines for venues looking for new talent. Best piece of advice, build rapport and then build some more. You can never have too many friends.

6. Anything else you want to add?

BEAU is not a typical school. I don’t think to myself, “I have to go to class today.” I get excited about having the opportunity to use the tools I would use in the industry and let the creative juices flow.

7. Short bio?

I graduated from Juan Diego High School in 2003. I attended the University of Utah for close to three years, slowly removing general requirement classes from my to-do list. I took some time off from working a full time job and attending school to follow my passion in 2005. The band I have been in since graduation year had finally taken a turn for the better. ECS was sent on a West Coast tour, covering venues from Salt Lake to Los Angeles to Phoenix. Shortly after our return, we were sent back out to play a theater show in Denver, Colo., making our own stops along the way. I have spent all of my energy in music, still playing numerous shows around the Valley, and working with several record labels to this day. I decided to return to school in early 2011 when I realized I could get a degree in something I am passionate about. College was no longer just additional classes in reading, writing, and arithmetic. I found I could actually major in video game art. Video games have been a past time (and the occasional babysitter in my younger days), for as long as I can remember. I still get excited for my favorite release titles to come out, and am first in line to pick up my pre-order copy. I feel privileged to have the knowledge of what went into making these works of art, and look forward to actually being one of the “wizards behind the curtain” one day soon. I also plan to continue my education at BEAU and get a second degree in music production. The courses offered at this school are the absolute best for anyone inspired to be part of any aspect of the entertainment industry.