Gabriel Olson received his BS in Game Art and Design from the Art Institute of Portland in 2008 and his MFA in Entertainment Arts and Engineering from the University of Utah in 2013.
He got his first industry work in 2008 working as a modeling texture artist at Liquid Development and continued for the next eight years working in various industry positions for companies including 3d Central, Laika, Metaversatility, and Disney Interactive on projects for CodeMasters, Microsoft, Sony, General Mills, Nabisco, Mars, Ubisoft, and Disney. Published game titles include Damnation, Sony Home, Toy Story 3: The Video Game, Cars 2: The Video Game, Disney Infinity, Disney Infinity 2.0, and Disney Infinity 3.0.
He began his teaching career at Mt. Hood Community College in 2009 where he was instrumental in developing and teaching game arts curriculum. He taught 3d modeling at the Art Institute of Salt Lake City in 2011 prior to teaching at the University of Utah as an Associate Instructor from 2011-2016. Currently, he is an Assistant Professor/Lecturer at the University of Utah where he also advises the Producer and Artist Tracks for the Entertainment Arts and Engineering Master Games Studio program.
My approach to teaching and games education is informed by theories practiced through creating. Focusing on current industry practices and techniques rooted in the core fundamentals of art and design. Games are interactive experiences which involve participation which should be fun and result in discovery. Likewise, students learn best when they are not only enjoying the subject, but the process of learning it. Creating games and learning have a lot in common; it starts with the individual and how we perceive the outside world. I don’t see obstacles. I don’t see chores. I don’t see tasks. I don’t see things in black and white or the way they are supposed to be. I see mission. I see goals, confetti, finish lines, and achievements.
These ideas form my classroom experience. New students are taught step by step through demonstration, lecture, self-guided study, and one-on-one instruction. Showing students how to recognize challenges and argue plausible solutions. I want them to test the limits, find the creative wrapper, take the fun out of the box, and take risks. I see things the way they could be by suspending reality and questioning what’s already been done.This attitude entices my students to embody their own passion, and apply it accordingly. Upper level students are pointed in the proper direction, without being told what to see. Refined through mentorship framed by rigorous curriculum. Creative freedom gives ample opportunities to apply the theories learned and draw their own conclusions.
Unity, Unreal, Maya, Photoshop, and Zbrush, are the mediums and materials used by students to create their work. Each class we employ studio techniques of the agile and scrum methods; each team member reflecting on their achievements and failures through personal and group critiques. Students’ own their processes and discover what they must do to better themselves.
Blending new digital mediums with traditional techniques, I teach my students how to break the barriers of realism, and perceived expectations, to bring something from an alternate reality into our dimension. I also include real world materials, classic bygones that have led to the creation of our present understanding of design, and encourage the students to create that which motivates and engages them.
My industry experience guides the classroom assignments and expectations. With each of my classes, my goal as an instructor is to give students the fundamental real world skills currently used in the gaming industry via a very hands on approach. I teach 2D artistry, 3D modeling, texturing, gameplay design, animation, lighting, visual scripting, and storyboarding. Preparing students to enter the professional workforce by studying theory through creating.