Urban Arts hires the best of the best to teach the next cohort of creative technologists—our alumni. They know the material, they’re invested in giving back & they earn money—a win win win.
Thank you to our current crop of Assistant Teaching Artists. Get to know these young talents, from their #deliorder to their #dreamjob
“I first heard about Urban Arts when one of their instructors came to my school’s gaming club—which I didn’t even plan to go to that day. When I signed up I was sure I would not get accepted. I thought it was only for the best of the best. Also, I submitted my application exactly at—if not one minute after—the deadline.
The day I was accepted I was more worried than excited.
Being at Urban Arts, around like-minded people, I’m not afraid to share my love for what I do and that was the push I needed—that push through uncertainty and uncomfortable environments forced me to do instead of just think.
I want to use my art and creativity to affect the future of games. I hope to replace the current stigma around games.
If my past self was to look at me now, he would be impressed. And I haven’t even pushed my limits yet.”
What’s the hardest part about game devs? I can come up with ideas but can never get around to actually making anything. i have a ton of unfinished or unstarted projects in my backlog. maybe ill get to it one day
Fave deli buy: Mango smoothie from Supreme Deli on 18th.
Peep: Street Shuffle Demo
Dream job? Game designer!!! Technical game designer more specifically
Hobbies? I play guitar and bass and also used to fence (the sport) in high school! i’m trying to get back into it.
Sign: sagittarius sun, cancer moon, virgo rising
What is the most useful skill—big or small—that you learned at Urban Arts? Definitely public speaking. ever since i started doing promotional activities for urban arts, whether it’s small talks over zoom or a big event such as the color ball, i’ve learned how to be confident on stage. it’s also allowed me to meet a ton of people and form a lot of connections!
Recco a game: Night in the Woods! it’s an amazing game about coming back to your hometown from a rough year at college and everything feels different and foreign, despite it being the same. your friends have either moved on or grown up, your favorite shops are closed or still there but with a different vibe. it’s a bittersweet game with amazing art that i think you should play if you’re from a small town like i am.
Pronouns: Anything is fine!
My first day at Urban Arts beat any first day at school. It was wild because everything was taught through Discord, which is a platform I normally use to casually talk to my friends on— so it felt like I was in a game lobby rather than a classroom setting. Because of that, I think people weren’t hesitant to chat with others so I made friends pretty quick and I wasn’t afraid to be myself. Very memorable.
The hardest part about being a game dev is determining how fun your game actually is. You never know what to expect when showing your game to someone else … Balancing a good story with gameplay is very difficult. You need a good amount of gameplay so that your players are being interactive, but also enough story so that the player stays interested in playing.
The best part about being an ATA is seeing how students grow closer together as their game production progresses. Not only are they learning how to make games, but they’re also learning teamwork and building friendships. Plenty of inside jokes and laughs make their way into conversations as they discuss production. It brings me a lot of joy to see how proud the students are of their game and each other. It makes me feel like I have an impact on bettering this world when I see I’ve helped my students succeed.
If I could tell my younger self one thing I’d tell myself to stop being so anxious and to have more confidence in herself, to speak up and be more assertive at times.
Fave class—now: I think I like my 3D animation class….
Fave class—ever: Anything art and science I enjoy.
Dinner you could eat for a month straight: Mom’s curry with chicken 🥕 🥔 rice
Fave deli buy: Candy and weird chip flavors.
Fave game character: #Bayonetta is peak #characterdesign (👏 #hidekikamiya @platinumgames_official) but #kirby wins in every category ever (@nintendoamerica 🥇)
Personality in one word: Silly!!
My dream job is to be a 3D generalist, but I’d like to be an art supervisor / director someday.
Next I want to learn knitting! Or maybe dancing.
I think sandbox games and dress up games fueled much of my childhood imagination and desire to create.
My Fave sweet thing to eat: Ice cream!
My vast other hobbies include crocheting, fiber art, jewelry-making, sewing, trinket making, trinket collecting.
At 30, I hope I enter my art renaissance and create really cool stuff based on wisdom from my 20’s. I also hope I have a really cool house / apartment and make a lot of money. I also would like to go semi viral and then disappear. If I’m still up for it, maybe I’ll start my own clothing company.
The most fun thing I did this year at Urban Arts: At Arcade, seeing the students play each others’ games and give their presentation was incredibly fun to watch— all the hard work that was put into the event really paid off. Unreleased Games at City College was also super fun because I got to see the other Urban Arts classes interact with Studio students. (And Darcy and Daquan won an award!) Of course, the trip to San Francisco was unforgettable. I will forever miss In N Out, trolleys and haunted hotels.
Horoscope: Gemini. Please no judgment.
What is the most useful skill—big or small—that you learned at Urban Arts? Learning how to lead a team through the creation and presentation of a project is the most valuable thing I’ve learned from Urban Arts. Because I was allowed to experience a leadership position, I learned that a successful project requires me to understand the different styles and wants of others, and to understand the strengths of each team member. I’ve also learned how to set realistic goals and create backup plans, along with respectfully communicating feedback in a way that would benefit everyone. I’ve also built the courage I needed to present my ideas. With every presentation, I learn how to structure my ideas in a comprehensive way so I can capture my audience’s attention and have them understand the goals for my project.”
App are you super into this month? I finally used Spotify! (I’m very late to the game).
Early 🐤 or night 🦉? Night owl cosplaying as an early bird.
Recommend a game: I think more people should play Twister and I think we should bring back Neko Atsume. Monument Valley is also really good.
Most used emoji? Salute emoji (Sorry, Ellie—I haven’t updated…)
3D Demo Reel: youtu.be/NKeFFYrpk9A
My first day was unlike any other. It was the start of the pandemic, so it was virtual. As a result, it seemed unreal, too good to be true. But I loved it so much because I met so many amazing people.
From a programmer’s perspective, one of the hardest parts is debugging your code. Everything could be working just fine, but because of a small error, one can spend hours trying to find its cause.
The best part of being an ATA is making a difference in students’ lives. UA and SIA have made such a big impact on my life that I feel more than happy to give back to this community.
Make an effort to try new things more often. The only way to discover what you truly enjoy is to try new things.
Fave class—now: Computer Science I (lol)
Fave class—ever: Mathematics (Geometry, Algebra, Calculus, but never Statistics)
Dinner you could eat for a month straight: Dominican street food OR Lasagna (I’m secretly Garfield)
Fave deli purchase: #choppedcheese with a soda or juice
Fave video game character: Papa from Papa’s Cooking games OR the Miis from Nintendo’s Wii
Personality in one word: Optimistic
Dream job be? A software engineer building a program that will impact the world.
What do you want to learn next?
My goal is to CONTINUE learning to play the piano.
Game That Influenced Me Most: Rather than a single game, there is a genre of cooking games I enjoyed very much and that is probably one of the reasons I love cooking and baking.
My favorite sweet thing to eat: A warm brownie with vanilla ice cream on top (yummmmmm)
Hobbies? I really love listening to music, painting my nails, and capturing memories in pictures.
Where do you imagine yourself when you’re 30? I imagine myself traveling the world and getting to know different cultures.
Most fun thing you did this year at Urban Arts? Being part of Arcade and seeing how the student’s works came together and all the talent that SIA is helping their students discover and/or develop (Apart from flying across the country to tour the Unity headquarters and meeting workers in inspiring fields, and going golfing to help fundraise for the program, of course 🤭)
Most fun thing you did this year at your school? I went to watch the Super Mario Bros movie with one of my student clubs.
Sign? Leo ♌
What is the most useful skill—big or small—that you learned at Urban Arts? Learning at Urban Arts includes programming, coding, animation, public speaking, animation, music composition, teaching, assisting, working with others, listening to feedback, art direction, etc. Be specific!
Urban Arts has taught me so many things, but the one skill that I am most grateful for is public speaking and being able to express myself openly in front of others. I used to be very shy and did not participate in school activities, but after graduating from SIA I am much more involved in my college community.
App are you super into this month? The camera app LOL. I am spending the summer in my home country, DR, so I am trying to capture as many photos as possible to look back at when I am homesick in the US.
Recommend a game: I haven’t played any new games recently, just Roblox with my cousins.
Most used emoji? 🤣 OR ✨
Life advice: Always look at the positive side of things.
I found out about Urban Arts through a teacher from SIA (Sean) who was teaching my Computer Arts Technology class about coding but through a game called Ghost School on Twine back when I was in my Sophomore year of high school.
I did a summer camp for Core class and since my first day at Urban Arts was during the height of the pandemic, it was all remote. I remember being bundled up with a lil blanket and a plushie on my office chair staring at my computer with Discord open. Even though it sounds boring, the energy was pretty fun. It was also really fun chatting with my teacher, makin jokes and being chaotic with my online personality—it felt real close. The Replicates and other lessons were fun too… I guess. (IM JOKING I ACTUALLY REALLY LIKED THEM LOL, IT WAS JUST A PAIN TO FIGURE OUT THE PROBLEMS). I still hate benchmarks though.
The hardest part about being a game dev would be trying to come up with reasonable ideas that can actually be coded with the knowledge and ability of the programmer. There’s so many ideas that I can come up with for a game, but it’s struggle trying to limit by ideas for the sake of efficiency .
The best part about being an ATA would be that because you’re a veteran from the program, you basically have all there is to need to know in order to be an ATA. If you don’t, then there are guides and other ATAs and coworkers to help you out, and it’s even better when people need help from YOU for things that you’re better at. It’s a close community that makes you feel homey AND smart.
I would tell me younger self: Don’t worry about nailing every single knowledge that comes your way. Everyone’s going at their own pace and achieving things at any moment in their life. Just focus on doing the things you can for now because that’s when you’ll really use the knowledge that’ll actually matter for yourself.
Fave class—now ART/ILLUSTRATION CLASS!!
Fave class—ever FOREVERRR ART/ILLUSTRATION CLASS!!
Dinner you could eat for a month straightA gooooooooooooood cheese burger with pickles and fries heh.
Fave deli purchase A bacon egg n cheese sammich– mmmmmmmmmmmmm yumyum nummies
Fave video game character: Rita Rossweiss from Honkai Impact 3rd
Personality in one word, it would be: Flexible
My portfolio: https://siraius.wixsite.com/siraius It’s a mixture of really old works and some of the more recent ones!
Dream job be? Being a concept artist for a game studio would be epic! I wanna continue learning how to code so that I can become a cool indie game dev, too.
Game That Influenced Me Most Roblox, but I think it would actually be counted as a library of games. Befriended a lot of people there.
My favorite sweet thing to eat Ice creammmm <3
Hobbies? I like drawing, gaming, and reading manga and webtoons, and watching anime :]
Sports? VOLLEYBALL!!!! I do also play basketball and badminton, but I prefer volleyball. I’m also trying to learn how to skateboard too.️
Most fun thing you did this year at Urban Arts? Arcade in person this year! All the other Arcades were hard to enjoy with the pandemic, so it was a nice breath of fresh air.
Most fun thing you did this year at your school? Watch an anime marathon with my friends dressed as characters from Chainsaw Man hehehe.
Sign? Pisces fishy
What is the most useful skill you learned at Urban Arts? Aside from the hard skills like basic coding and programming to make a small game, I’d say the most useful skill that I learned from Urban Arts is being able to lead and work with a group of people better. From my first game jam to Studio and now as an ATA, I’m confident conveying my knowledge and ideas to others much less awkwardly and much more clearly >:]
Apps are you into this month? Discord and Instagram I love spending unhealthy hours looking at videos (IM JOKING…maybe), and playing and talking with my friends online
Early 🐤 or 🦉? Night owl HEHEHEE
Recommend a game: I’ve been super into survival games like “Raft” and “Grounded” lately, and they’re really good games that I’d recommend.
Most used emoji? Oh my god—it’s a battle between my 😏 or 💀 … or 😭
Life advice: The same thing that I would say to my past self really :] It’s something we all tend to forget sometimes when we’re suddenly in a rush or overwhelmed. Just remember to take breaks and take it easy sometimes. Even machines need rest.
The hardest part about being a game dev is the visual aspects of the game—the #UI and how all the characters are going to look.
The best part about being an ATA is going to all the events and being able to introduce people to #gamedesign and development.
My portfolio: https://random-mexican.itch.io/
My dream job would be either as a softwareengineer or a game developer for an indiestudio
Hobbies? I play a lot of video games and read a lot more and I also build model kits.
The most useful skills I learned at Urban Arts are programming, how animation works, public speaking, teaching & being able to cooperate with others better.
Recommend a game: #Portal 1 and 2 because they are both my favorite games of all time and even though they’re older they still look good.
What was your first day at Urban Arts like? Due to joining in the middle of the pandemic, it was completely online, and the first summer I spent mostly inside. It was the first time I was in such a large voice chat in discord and I was amazed by how welcoming it felt despite being online.
What’s the hardest part about game devs? Balance. There are so many different forms of balance that need to be taken into account; making sure your plans match what you can actually produce, coding while keeping track of your mental health, what the user wants to do vs what you want to see in a game, the list can go on. Keeping track of yourself and having a good game plan is a necessity.
What’s the best part about being an ATA? Seeing all the assets and growth of my students. It is motivating to see new people continue to join and add their own spins to the same content. It is nice to hear about new perspectives and see all the creativity that is produced in the classroom, online or in person.
If you could tell your younger self one thing, what would it be? Treat yourself better, you are the main person taking care of your life, and you should treat it with kindness. Only when you are kind to yourself will you do your best work.
Favorite class—now: Game Design & Development I
Favorite class—ever: 3D Animation and Asset Production
Dinner you could eat for a month straight: Salmon and rice is my favorite meal to cook and eat.
Favorite deli purchase: Sour cream & onion potato chips. My fav.
Favorite video game character—any decade, any game: Spyro from Spyro the Dragon: Year of the Dragon on the PS1. He looks like polygons and I love dragons.
If you could describe your personality in one word, it would be: Entertaining.. hopefully
My portfolio https://mgirvine.carrd.co/
After you graduate, what would your dream job be? I would love to be a character or level designer. Creating immersive worlds or interactions is what is most interesting to me.
What do you want to learn next? I want to learn more about 3D rigging and modeling.
Game That Influenced Me Most I have found a lot of comfort playing Apex Legends over the past year. Their character, Bloodhound, is the first playable nonbinary character I have ever come across, and this character also has a pet bird just like me! It was welcoming and fun to explore the lore and design of the world, while playing with my friends.
My favorite sweet Green tea candies
Do you have any hobbies? I sew and cross stitch my own patches, which I like to put on my bags and jackets.
Any sports? My brother is helping me to learn to skateboard. With him by my side, I feel way more confident dropping in pits at a skatepark.
Where do you imagine yourself when you’re 30? Hopefully still creating things that make me happy. I will definitely be drinking a cup of tea, but maybe I’ll have tried some new flavors.
What’s the most fun thing you did this year at Urban Arts? Setting up the office for this summer class was really exciting. I am not often in the office, and seeing everyone putting posters up and organizing the names for the classes while scrambling to clean the laptop files was an experience.
What’s the most fun thing you did this year at your school? Finding my friends during a long overnight fire drill. We set up in an abandoned classroom and played video games while the power was out in our droms for hours.
What is the most useful skill—big or small—that you learned at Urban Arts? Organizing game design documents and production plans for sure. It helps me place my thoughts and think ahead, considering if I will be able to actually add something in a schedule or not. I have learned to make things stretch goals more often than not, and come to terms with the fact that a well built simple game is better than a complex idea that will never come to fruition.
App are you super into this month? I can’t seem to stop scrolling on tiktok. It has become integral to my nightly schedule.
Early bird or night owl? Absolutely a night 🦉. I like the quiet of the night and the simplicity of having my own space, despite my friends not often being online at the same time as me.
Recommend a game. Baba is You is one of my favorite puzzle games. The simple, cute assets and music can be pretty misleading for how complex some levels will be.
Most used emoji? 💖 I love my sparkling heart emoji.
Life advice. Try some decaf tea before bed. Chamomile, dandelion, and rooibos are my favorites. Definitely has helped me calm down and rest a little easier.
“The hardest part about game devs is trying to make your ideas into reality. Sometimes it won’t go the way you want it to & you’re gonna have to make the tough decision of pursuing it or dropping it.”
The best part about being an ATA is seeing the result of the students’ hard work, how far along they’ve come.
I would tell my younger self don’t be scared to ask for help, it’ll save you a lot of stress in the long run.
The most useful skill I’ve learned at Urban Arts is how to approach people that may need help with a problem & taking the steps needed to solve it.
App you’re super into this month? @monopolygo 🎩 It has a chokehold on me! *Ed note: ahem to our partner @hasbro
Fave class—now: Intro to Music
Fave class—ever: Intro to Biology—had the best professor
Fave dinner: Pasta, literally (almost) any kind
Fave game character: #TinyTina from #borderlands
My dream job would be working as a programmer or #animator at a game studio.
Learn next? C++
Arcade is definitely always the highlight of the year.
Game That Influenced Me Most: The Mass Effect Trilogy *hello @unrealengine
Fave candy: Smarties (Ed. note yes)
Music—I can’t go anywhere without listening to it.
At 30, I hope to be living a comfortable & stable life with whatever animals I own.
I compete on my school’s #esports team @sunycantonesports
Game recco: Vampire survivors 🧄
“I found out about Urban Arts in middle school while applying to high schools. I started in Mastery during the summer of 2018.”
“My first day at Urban Arts was fun, but daunting because I was learning college-level stuff. However that never stopped me. I would arrive early to practice the fundamentals of Programming & Game Design.”
“The hardest part about Game Dev is figuring out ways to make things work together—mechanics, art, music or level design. All those categories need to complement each other well.”
“The best part about being an ATA is I get to give back to Urban Arts. Sharing my knowledge & experience hopefully betters the program—& being able to just help people in their learning.”
“There are so many things I would tell my younger self that it’s hard to begin: Don’t overthink, go with the flow of life, & take things one day & step at a time. Always be compassionate & understanding to others, no matter the circumstance.”
“The most useful skills I learned at Urban Arts programming with C# using good syntax, working with others, listening to feedback, the process of good Game Design and how to deliver pretty good presentations.” (Ed note: his presentations are 🌟)
Dinner I could eat for a month straight: “That’s tough—Yellow Rice with Salchicha”
Go-to deli order: “That’s tough—a Bacon & Sausage Hero.
Fave character: “That’s super-tough—the protagonist Joker from Persona 5.”
“A Human’s Best Friend is a @gamesforchange game I worked on that was picked as a finalist.”
“So many games influenced me immensely but the #Persona series influenced me the most (hi @sega). Bonus mention—the Destiny games by @bungie ”
Most used emoji? Tough to say— 🐺🌑🖤👍👀🙂😄😎😏😳😔😌
Life Advice: “Always be compassionate & have deep understanding towards everyone no matter who they are—enemies, rivals, good friends, or annoying siblings.”
“My favorite class EVER is physical education because it’s fun to learn about the body & mind & how to strengthen them. It’s also great to just exercise.” (Theo used to play lacrosse & skateboard “as a kid” 😭)
“I want to learn more about art and how to improve my art skills.”
“At 30, hopefully I will be with my family doing a job I love & continuing to maintain & pursue my passions. & maybe have popular #IndieGames ”
My personality in one word: “Ever-changing because I am good at evolving depending on the situation or person I am with. No matter the situation it’s still true to myself & a part of me.”
“Arcade was the most fun things at Urban Arts this year. It was phenomenal to see everyone’s magnificent work.”
Sign: “I am not sure, but I believe it is Aires.”
App are you super into this month? “I’ve been super into YouTube. I always find myself watching YouTube videos to learn things and relax every day.”
Early 🐤 or night 🦉? Both.
Recommend a game: The Persona Games