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Out of This World Environments Begin with a Solid Foundation

Insights from Mimi Park One Year After Her Own Annual Exhibition

This year's invitees to the 2018 Annual Exhibition are being welcomed by the spacey, gritty, beautiful work of 3D environmental artist Mimi Park ('17 Digital Media). It has become something of a tradition for the invitation and signage of the college's most popular event to feature the artwork of a graduate from the previous year. In 2017, alumna Momo Givens ('16 Toy Design) was featured.

The project, Cocoon, was a virtual reality collaboration by four Otis College designers and was a highly trafficked stop for exhibition attendees. In our Q&A with Mimi, we find out what she's up to now, what she'd tell this year's graduating class, and more. 

The ultimate “one-year-out” question, what are you up to now? What are your current projects, professional and personal?

I work as a 3D environment artist at a game studio called Heavy Iron.  I also TA for Jason Priest’s Advanced Games and Environments class at Otis on the weekends. In my spare time, I develop VR environments for Jacquelyn Ford Morie, and work on personal projects. I am grateful to be able to stay connected with my Otis mentors even after graduating. I enjoy coming back to Otis every week to help students develop as artists.

Cocoon, which is the featured artwork for this year's Annual Exhibition, was a collaborative project, can you tell us more about the process and how you worked with the team to bring it to life?

Cocoon is a VR experience made possible by an awesome team of four designers. Jae Won Rim was the lead environment artist, Camden Barkley was the audio engineer, Jonathan Song was our animator, and I was the creative lead and developer. Our mentors gave us valuable critiques and insight towards our project. Our Digital Media colleagues also helped us QA test the project and provided constructive feedback. This project was made possible by a collective effort of a lot of hard work, ideas, iterations, and cups of coffee.

Annual Exhibition is coming up, and just as you did a year ago, students will show their work, graduate, and then launch into the next chapter of their lives. What advice would you give them for their first year in the "real world"?

My advice would be to stay motivated and keep creating. If it doesn’t happen right away it’s okay. Don’t be discouraged by rejection, embrace failure as an opportunity to get up and try again. Do your best in everything you do, stay humble and strive to improve.

Even though we are talking about “new graduates,” you had already had plenty of experience in fashion before coming to Otis for digital media. Can you talk about that journey and how your creative interests relate to each other?

My fashion experience helped me adapt to the game studio production pipeline. I find that the responsibilities of a fashion designer are similar to that of a 3d environment artist. In both positions, you are responsible for your design from concept, to production, to final delivery. You have to make sure your designs are cohesive to the set line/style and problem-solve how you can maintain visual fidelity of the art while keeping production/optimization costs low. Both fashion and game art development are fast-paced and ruled by the same fundamentals of art. These similarities helped me adapt quickly to the change.  

If you could describe your Otis College experience in one word, what would that word be?
Foundation. Otis provides an amazing resource of experienced professionals that dedicate time out of their careers to mentor students and teach.  As a student, I had all the facilities and building blocks provided to be able to create great work. I am grateful to have been able to maximize my experience at Otis through self-motivated hard work, and the support of my dedicated friends and family.

Learn more about Park's work at soyoungmimipark.com and be sure to join us this Saturday, May 12 from 12pm - 9pm for the 2018 Annual Exhibition. In addition to the work shown, the event also includes readings, special presentations, a ceramics sale, and more. Check out the schedule for more information.

Image: Still image from Cocoon by Mimi Park (BFA Digital Media ’17) and Jae Won Rim (BFA Digital Media '17)