2D Digital Artist, Metia Interactive
Master of Design
Bachelor of Design in Digital Design
When Michaela Dodd left high school, she wasn’t sure a creative career was for her. But she soon realised her passion for design was too strong to ignore, and went on to complete a Bachelor of Design in Digital Design, followed by a Master of Design.
“Before I came to AUT, I spent a year doing psychology at another university. I had told myself that I wasn't 'allowed' to do something creative as I was scared of the risks. But after my first year studying psychology, I knew I was denying a massive part of myself. I saw that AUT had a digital design course focusing on game design, and I knew that's where I wanted to go. I still remember being at a beach on Waiheke with my best friend Charlotte on the day I saw the confirmation letter from AUT. We were both so excited!”
It proved to be the right decision for her, and Michaela thoroughly enjoyed her time at AUT.
“I loved all the skills we learned and the opportunities we had access to. I also made really awesome connections with other students, and some of the most caring and invested lecturers I've had the pleasure of working with. I can be an anxious person and a frantic emailer as a result, and any questions I fired off to the lecturers were met with considerate feedback to help me with assignments.
“One of the highlights for me was watching and analysing short films in our lectures. I realised that, while I love to create, I also have a passion for dissecting and understanding works that were created by others. I think that was the beginning of the research bug that doesn’t seem to want to go away. In my master’s degree, I also enjoyed being able to tutor other students. That has definitely awoken a passion for teaching.”
Helping tell indigenous stories
Since graduating, Michaela has joined game development studio Metia Interactive and loves her role as a 2D digital artist.
“I get to draw digital art for a living! I also spend some time in the game engines to stick my pictures into the video games we’re making. We’re a small team with a focus on indigenous stories. I work for Maru Nihoniho, and she is an incredibly inspiring wahine.
“I’ve enjoyed learning a million more things about te ao Māori, being trusted with precious stories from different iwi and given the chance to bring them to life in a digital space. There are lots of laughs at work too as we all know and care about one another.”
A project she is particularly proud of is the Matariki VR activation she has been involved in.
“Maru once asked our team if any of us had experience in virtual reality (VR). I mentioned that I had done a uni project once but wasn't sure what I would remember from it. That convo led to me being able to build an awesome VR world for people to walk around in and learn about the stars of Matariki. We had a live installation at the Spark store in Commercial Bay. I loved that project and I feel proud that I put my hand up to have a go at making something in VR again.”
Advice for other students
Michaela – who received the FujiXerox Undergraduate Scholarship for Excellence in the Design Field – has some great advice for other students thinking about a career in digital and game design.
“Things will be a lot easier if you find a way to enjoy all the bits of the process. If you aren't a keen writer or reader, try to find a topic that can start to ignite that passion. The technical skills are choice, but having a good foundation of the theory is what will make inspiring conversations later down the line.”
Make the most of your time at university, she adds.
“Have fun. Make use of the counselling that's available if you need it. Be nice to your lecturers and listen. You've got this.”
*The Digital Design major has been replaced by the Animation, Visual Effects and Game Design major. The Bachelor of Design is now known as Te Tohu Paetahi mō te Hoahoa - Bachelor of Design.