Kennesaw State University Graduate Student Sterling LaVigne Leads Fun, Animated Life

image of animation
Sterling LaVigne enjoys incubation time on the side, to create more projects on his own. The MAAD program allows him to do that. 

Game designer, character creator, and 3D modeler graduates this spring with MA in Art and Design

KENNESAW, Ga. (Apr 19, 2022) — Kennesaw State University School of Art and Design’s graduate student Sterling LaVigne had inside information about the new MA in Art and Design (MAAD) degree. He first heard inklings [ahem, pun intended] of the new program as an undergraduate Digital Animation student under professors Craig Brasco and Sandee Chamberlain. 

“When I heard that the two of them were helping to create the new master’s program, I talked with them about it, and it sounded hilariously fun. I knew it would open doors for me, and I was already in love with the Digital Animation program so I knew it would be great—and I trusted the professors,” says LaVigne. 

image of sterling standing next to two friends
Sterling LaVigne (middle) has showcased his work during professional networking events like SIEGE Con, an annual video gaming conference hosted by the Georgia Game Developer’s Association.
He quickly signed up for the first cohort of the new MA in Art and Design, focusing on Digital Animation. The fully online aspect of the degree “worked for my life situation” as the program’s flexibility allows LaVigne to work on the side and “make independent content for clients, some freelance here and there, like creating animated characters for people.” 

The MAAD degree allowed him to enjoy “incubation time on the side, to create more projects on my own. I want to teach one day, but I don’t want to go right into it. In a world where a lot of people have a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree looks pretty good. Plus, it was super affordable, and the program is flexible.” 

LaVigne enjoys working in 3D modeling and animation software, as it does some of everything. “It’s a bit unique to work in 3D, but [administrators] didn’t say no to me, although they did warn me it might be more work!” Prof. Brasco says, “Sterling is very cutting edge in terms of 3D modeling and animation. The work he has done in our program demonstrates those skills very well. It's been such a pleasure to have him as part of our first class of Digital Animation students in the MAAD program.”

work sample of woman
One of Sterling LaVigne's work samples.

Prof. Chamberlain adds, “Sterling always goes above and beyond in his animation studies, with a positive and productive curiosity that is needed in the entertainment arts industry; he pushes his work towards excellence in every project he tackles.” He has also represented KSU well, with his work showcased during professional networking events like SIEGE Con, an annual video gaming conference hosted by the Georgia Game Developer’s Association. 

He has a bit of advice for prospective students considering the Digital Animation concentration in the MAAD program. “If you plan on going into teaching, or want to expand your portfolio, committing to two regular semesters plus the summer to get your master’s degree…well, the value of that is kind of crazy!” Currently, he is working on his thesis. He explains that there are two options, a traditional paper, or a project. 

He laughs and says, “Animators aren’t known for their love of writing 32-page papers! Like me, we’re all making animated shorts. This is something we started this semester, and it will carry through the entire program; we will have some write-ups, some explanations, but all of us will have a physical deliverable.” The experience has also been helpful to him as an independent developer, as his demo reel of models and characters is growing by the day, mirroring the growth of the industry. 

3D model
LaVigne specializes in 3D modeling and animation.

No longer are video games and animation seen specifically as entertainment to children. “The video game market has officially surpassed Hollywood [in revenue] and makes more money than triple A movies. That’s just going to continue,” explains LaVigne. 

However, he’s not too worried about machines taking over anytime soon. “Just because a computer is involved, people often think that everything is automated and done for you. If there are artistic choices to make, then humans made those choices! Very little is truly automated, and more people should know how much love is put into animated fields, particularly,” he says. 

He’s looking forward to the graduation ceremony and walking with his graduating class, as he missed his undergraduate graduation ceremony due to COVID-19. Since the program is synchronously online, he can’t wait to meet everyone in person. “I’ve come to like all of them and can’t wait to meet everyone in person, both students and professors. I love the program and the way they take care of you if you care. If you want to be in the industry, they help you with that. They have shown a mutual effort—which I really like—because it makes my efforts seem worth it. The professors really care about the well-being of their students, and they want to see you succeed.” 

To see more examples of Sterling LaVigne’s work, please visit his website where he specializes in “pulling dreams into reality.”  Learn more about the MAAD program.

--Kathie Beckett