Academy Foundation Scholarships


Erin LoeliusErin Loelius is currently on her second year studying Character Animation at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts). The Academy was impressed by her artistic talent and creativity, which can be easily summed up in her animated short, The Light Collector. We are excited to see what the future holds for Erin as she continues her journey as a visual storyteller.  You can view more of her dynamic art projects at her blog and hear what she has to say about her gaming inspiration and thoughts on art with our Q&A below. 

What are some of your favorite games and artistic inspirations?

A lot of my inspiration comes from games like Journey and Ico. Their stories are told through little to no dialogue, instead focusing on the visuals and player-interaction to get the mood and narrative across. Companies like Team Ico and thatgamingcompany are leaders in bringing beautifully inspiring visuals and stories to life through interactive media and are a major inspiration to the way in which I'd like to create and share my artwork. 

In the past there has been a lot of debate about the artistic value of video games. In your opinion, what makes video games art? 

Video games focus on storytelling, cinematography, artistic stylization, and music- all things considered art. Something special that video games do above and beyond one specific genre of Art is give control to the audience and place them in this meticulously-crafted world, letting them interact and become a part of this artistic piece. This gives the audience a deeper connection with the story and characters than would be possible in more passive art forms. 

You have now started your second year at CalArts as a Character Animation major. Tell us about how your education at CalArts helped you progress as an artist in the game making genre? 

CalArts has given me the chance to interact and collaborate with students in all mediums of art- Film, Animation, Music, and Theatre. Having a variety of artistic voices helps when creating something like Video Games that rely on more than one art medium. I'm also being taught by brilliant artists in their fields who currently work in the industry and teach us the up-to-date information being used in the industry. From these classes I learned how to use programs like Maya, Zbrush, flash, and AfterEffects, giving me a wide variety of tools to create animations and interactive pieces. Interacting with fellow artists, both Students and teachers is a great way to get constant and helpful critiques to further developed my own art and storytelling style.  

We’d love for you to speak on your point and click game you made at CalArts. 

I'm currently collaborating with other animation students to make a storybook-like point and click game that focuses on different visuals and art-styles to drive the narration. It will tell the story of a mythological traveler who, as he travels through different seasons and environments, changes with the art style of that specific environment.  

Can you walk us through some of your personal works such as your short animated film, The Light Collector?

My animated film was inspired by Inuit art and narratives, which to me are beautiful for their imaginative worlds and mythos. I decided that I did not want to focus on the characters, but the world in which they live and have the audience fill in the details without needing to explain to them. Something I like about Video Games is that you are thrown into an already existing world with its own mythos and rules. You, the player, have to accept the laws laid out by this world and are simply a wanderer in it, experiencing something new to your reality. For my animated film I wanted to create a small tale that you are only experiencing as a fly on the wall. Details of the world and its origins are not given to you like a manual, you simply accept the world and the characters as a viewer. 

Where would you like to see games go in the next decade? 

I'd love to see a lot of experimenting with mediums and seeing what stories can be told via video games. Playing around with different takes on narration, how a story can be told and the importance of the player's interaction in driving the narration along would be very interesting to see!