When it came time to think about college, Matt Rockefeller ’13 (Illustration B.F.A.) was torn. "I knew I wanted to pursue a creative field. But there was definitely an internal struggle between academics and art since I'm passionate about both," he said. A gifted student with a 4.26-grade point average and ranked third in his high school class in Tucson, Arizona, Rockefeller had immersed himself in his school's music program and in academics, taking AP classes in calculus, English, and history. His experience in visual art was different. Because his school offered only two classes 0 which Rockefeller fought to fit into his schedule - the majority of his creative experiences came through his personal pursuits as he experimented with art at home and in between classes.
He decided in his senior year to attend art college, and said,
"MICA's commitment to academic studies was a huge part of my decision to attend. I was interested in writing and history, and the other art schools I applied to did no treat these subjects with the same attention as their studio classes."
Today, Rockefeller is a freelance illustrator and comic artist based in New York City, where he is working with a small team on 5 Worlds, a graphic novel series from Random House that will debut in May 2017. His recent clients include Cartoon Network, Random House/Penguin, DC Comics/Vertigo, and Algonquin Books.
Before he graduated from MICA, Rockefeller sat down to discuss his experience at the College:
Why did you choose MICA illustration?
I had a lot of options before coming to MICA, but after visiting the campus and interacting with some of the faculty and staff, I immediately knew it would be a good choice. Of course, I looked at student work and what experiences the teachers were
What are the most important things you have learned from your MICA experience?
Building community. I've grown so much as an artist at MICA with the help of my teachers, and I really value the importance of what they've given me. I've learned so many great techniques, and how to communicate effectively when creating and discussing art. However, I've found the most important aspect of my experience here has been getting to know my peers and finding that everyone has their own incredible talents and insight. Spending time with them has helped me to look at myself and my art in new ways, and I wouldn't be where I am today without their help!
Tell us a little about your work and professional successes?
During my junior year and the summer after, I had an internship working on the Elder Scrolls Online at ZeniMax Online Studios. There I worked as a UI Art intern creating maps and icons to be used in games. After that, I've participated in three gallery shows with Light Grey Art Lab, and I have recently created a piece for Gallery 33 in Amsterdam.