Logo of the Fine Arts Section of Daca Daguao - 4 tools used on the studio, animation disk, microphone, mise and brush.
Daca Daguao Fine Arts Studio
Digital telling of society through the lens of science fiction and fantasy art.

Options – the conclusion of the Thesis.

by | Mar 9, 2019 | Master of Fine Arts (MFA) | 0 comments

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Gerardo Vargas started the MFA with the intent of becoming a full time 3D modeler at an animation studio – one of many options. He was not targeting a particular industry, it could have been film or game and he would have considered his goal met. The game industry is very satisfying because it is “instant-reward” type of modeling. You see the rendering faster than on film. That is because game engines render on real time to compensate for the changes in animation action – that is a simple explanation of a complex concept.

On the other hand, film has the reward of making realistic images and assets, if working with live-action films. Or, it makes stylized art for full animation films. But the rendering takes for-ever! So there are pros and cons to both industries at the end of the day.

The paths taken.

Pursuing this idea, Mr. Vargas started at the Academy of Art University online program (not different than their on-campus one). That was a mistake according to him. “A for-profit college is not the way to go. First, they want you to fit into a box. Meaning that you have to conform to the school ‘client’ list of studios. Dreamworks and Pixar where the top dogs of the Academy. That is not art, that is employee material. They graduate hundreds of ‘copies’ of employees every year – or is it every semester? — for a handful of studio’s styles.” And this is only one for-profit college. Multiply that by a couple of hundred in the nation. And at the end, a huge financial debt caused by the profit the colleges hunt, and no guarantee of employment for you.

“Mathematically that makes no sense! The balance of jobs vs. candidates is disproportionate, particularly when you developed a style that fit those few studios only” he concludes. And that is not just in arts, most industries have this disproportionate job-to-candidate ratio. He took it upon himself to steer middle and high schools students away from those “for-profit” schools and into the non-profit and public colleges. He says “it worked, while I was a school teacher.”

And then came the change.

While at Pacific Northwest College of Art Vargas came face to face with a fine arts not-for-profit college. And the “capitalist” mentality that lives in commercial art started to conflict with his goals. During the studies “I was re-introduced with ideas and themes of my younger years in middle and high school fine art training” he tells. “Social justice, discrimination, oppression, and other social issues. I found myself having a battle between ‘just want to create art’ and ‘I need to do something for society.’ Two very powerful forces” he concluded.

Plenty of studios out there are discriminating against age. The older the artist, the harder to get hired or keep the post that they have. Add to that the human conditioning (not nature, we don’t believe in that phrase here in Daca Daguao) of not wanting to learn anything new after getting a job, and disaster. You get fired or “laid off” to replace you with “new blood.”

The other reason for so much turnover in animation studios is similar, or equal to other industries. Employers do not want to pay retirement. “I have an insane number of friends that just before that time, were laid-off. And not just from animation studios. Advertising agencies, corporate life, etc. are all doing it.”

Change of heart.

So now, Vargas wants to make an animation studio for those “displaced” individuals. To many of them, he is a no-one. They don’t know Vargas and don’t know his intentions. “I approach some of them and they don’t give me 2 seconds to explain — would need more, of course! They are jaded and so was I. But I want to continue. Maybe this is something I can turn into a legacy. I want to find a way to hire artists that can stay until it is time to ‘hang the gloves’ but continue enjoying life meanwhile.”

What does this mean? We at Daca Daguao want to find a way for us to make an animation studio that has its employees free to work anywhere (location) and continue producing. We are not talking about outsourcing to other countries. We mean for them to be able to travel if they want to and still work in the studio. And open source software and hardware is the way to go. Freedom of creation. A studio where the animators come together to pick the next project. No particular “formula” for blockbusting. No goal of Oscars. No stress for profit. That is an art studio. Radical.

Invasion force character for Traces Retraced. © Copyright  Daca Daguao Digital Design, LLC
Invasion force character for Traces Retraced. © Copyright
Daca Daguao Digital Design, LLC

From the MFA thesis:

In the process of creating Traces, I did not expect to learn as much about open source software and hardware as I did. I also did not expect to find out that open source is championing social justice in multiple industries by providing access to economically disadvantaged groups and individuals.

From the point of view of humanity’s destruction, or the possibility of it, I was wrong about technology. It is very inspiring to learn that others recognize that technology, profit and market dominance are oppressive and that they try to resist these forces. I am joining the fight now. I am a content creator. I am going to use my voice, and it is a strong voice.

After the MFA program, I plan to continue learning about open source hardware by building a computer system based on open source software and hardware specifications. I also plan to learn to program in Python, the language used to enhance Blender 3D.

Studies have shown us that competition fosters unethical behavior. 1 Why subscribe to a “law of the jungle” mentality?


  1. Schurr, Amos, and Ilana Ritov. “Winning a Competition Predicts Dishonest Behavior.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 113, no. 7 (February 16, 2016): 1754–59. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1515102113.


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