A Storied Future
At the age of 12, digital arts major Nic Luna taught themselves how to play guitar. And their love of learning didn’t stop there. Luna also taught themselves filmmaking. “I’ve worked on several projects, including short films, as well as 3-D animations in my own time,” they say. They also worked as a freelance graphic designer/illustrator for international non-governmental organizations. In that role, Luna perfected their attention to detail as well as developed problem-solving skills. It was these self-taught skills, coupled with what they are learning in the classroom, that helped them land a role on a project with New York Tech’s Entrepreneurship and Technology Innovation Center (ETIC) documenting the building of NASA prototypes. Luna sat down with The Box to talk more about the project and their plans for the future.
Why did you choose this major?
I chose to study digital arts, particularly animation because it combines storytelling, visual expression, and technology to create unique works of art. I’ve always enjoyed the hands-on experience of building something from scratch and finding creative ways of conveying stories to different audiences. Animation is also the closest major for what I want to pursue creatively in the future.
What are your career goals?
I aspire to be a visual effects artist, working in both film and television. After graduating, I plan to apply to internships, as well as pursue a master’s degree to help me gain the necessary knowledge and skills to be better prepared for the career I want.
What would be your dream job?
My dream job would be for me to be a stop motion animator that can merge visual effects work into my projects. Ideally, I would be creating work for networks like Adult Swim or even creating my own independent full-length films.
Tell me a little about your academic career. Have you won any awards, scholarships, etc.?
In high school, I won an award for being the “best creator of imagery that inhabits the dark, difficult side of things.” (Which is a pretty unique title if you ask me.) I’ve also had the amazing honor of having my artwork displayed at various art shows, including a show celebrating Tony Bennett’s birthday at Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, the high school I graduated from.
You were selected to be part of the NASA prototyping project. What is your role on the project?
As part of the NASA student team, I am involved in the production of instructional videos that promote and demonstrate prototypes being built in order to aid in commercialization efforts once they are complete. This includes filming and editing the process from start to finish.
What does this experience mean to you personally and professionally?
This is an incredibly exciting opportunity, and I honestly could have never imagined myself being part of a project as innovative as this one.
Can you talk about some of your other accomplishments outside of school?
I briefly worked with a non-governmental organization from the Dominican Republic to create illustrations advocating for LGBTQ+ rights.
What have you found to be most challenging in your academic journey? How did you overcome it?
I’m sure that lots of people can agree with me on this, but I would say that COVID-19 has created significant challenges throughout my academic journey. It was difficult to stay productive and constantly create when my life felt as though it was falling apart. I decided to follow the advice a good mentor of mine gave me: to repurpose negative energy and transform it into positive productivity.
How is New York Tech preparing you for the future?
New York Tech is providing me with the knowledge to learn the skills that I need. It’s giving me access to technology and studio spaces to create my work, as well as a network of people that are knowledgeable in the field who can mentor me to help me build a path towards the career I would like to pursue. It’s given me various opportunities to constantly push my creative boundaries, and I’m really grateful for that.
What advice do you have for incoming students?
Take advantage of all the opportunities that are offered, learn from everyone in your classes, and stay focused on your passion.
This interview has been edited and condensed.