Live Event: March 22, 2018 at 1:00pm Eastern (US)
Florencia Bonarto is a 3D Artist at the educational video game company, Immersed Games, where she leads the 3D art team in the creation of video game characters, props, and environments. We asked her a few questions about herself and her STEM career to get to know her and her work a bit better before her live event.
Name: Florencia Bonarto
Title: 3D Art Lead and Manager
Layman’s Title: 3D Artist
Company: Immersed Games
Years in this organization/position?
Almost 3 years and a half at this organization. Almost a year under my current title.
What does your organization do?
We create fun educational video games!
What is your role in the organization?
I lead the 3D art team in terms of asset creation, polish, art implementation and optimization. I primarily focus on characters, but I’m able to work on props and environments as well. I also UV map 3D models, so that they can be textured, and rig characters, so that they can be animated.
What type of science, technology, engineering or math do you use in your career? And how often do you use them?
I use a few computer programs on a daily basis: Blender for 3D modeling, UV mapping, and rigging; Unreal Engine 4 for importing and placing art assets within the game world. I also use web apps like Trello for task organization and Slack for communication.
How is the work you do important to society?
My work is important because I’m able to contribute to the look and feel of a video game that can teach kids science and related topics, making learning fun and engaging for kids.
What accomplishments are you most proud of in your current role?
It’s accomplishing to see kids play the game and get engrossed in it. I went to a comic convention to showcase the game, and it was very cool to see parents and kids interested in it and playing the game for so long. Also, it’s been very encouraging to see Youtubers play the games we make and be awed by the world and art.
What are the biggest challenges you face in your work?
The biggest challenge is figuring out how to complete all tasks by a deadline when there’s so much to be done. Making video games is such a time-consuming process because there’s art, programming, game design, marketing, etc. Within every team, there are specializations as well, so being able to find the most efficient way of working together is difficult but important.
Highest degree attained/ Schools attended?
Bachelor’s in Digital Arts and Sciences from the University of Florida
What educational accomplishments are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of discovering what career path I wanted in life. I spent my first 2 years in college thinking I was going to be a programmer. School offered me a few classes in 3D art that helped me get interested in it, but my internship with Immersed Games is what caused a realization and resolve within me to pursue 3D art as a career.
What kinds of challenges did you overcome during your education?
One challenge I had was failing my first class ever in my first semester of college, specifically in Calculus 3, even though math tended to be my strongest subject. I hadn’t found a good school-life balance after living on my own for the first time. I had too much fun, and didn’t focus on my schooling, causing me to be lazy. However, I learned my lesson after my failure, and went on to get an A in that same class the following semester, which was very reassuring.
Other positions not necessarily related to your current career
During part of middle school and most of high school, I helped my mom at her restaurant. In high school, I would help her after school if I didn’t have extracurriculars and on the weekends. My jobs would be to take orders, serve people, make sushi, do deliveries, clean, basically any task that needed to get done.
What were you like as a kid?
As a kid, I was very shy and hardly spoke or asked questions. I was very obedient and most adults tended to like me for that. I loved playing video games or watching cartoons or anime, so that’s something that has carried on with me. After puberty, I changed a lot, spoke my mind, and stood up for myself, and made lots of friends.
Favorite classes/coursework in elementary school, middle school, high school, college?
My favorite classes in school were usually math, art, music, and physical education.
What were your favorite books/shows/movies when you were a kid?
Too many to name, but I love Mulan and the Uglies series.
What did you think you were going to be when you grew up at age 12? At age 15? At age 18?
At age 12, I had no concept of what my future could be. At age 15, I wanted to be an artist of some sort because I had always loved drawing since I was little. At age 18, my parents wanted me to be a doctor or lawyer, and I didn’t want to do that, so I figured since I liked math that I would be an engineer or something related. I flip flopped between considering pharmacy and civil engineering, but I decided that since I was always on the computer playing video games or doing projects, and had done some web development classes, I went for computer science. But at around the age of 20, after finding that I disliked coding, I realized that I could do digital art which was related to computers, math, and art! On top of that, I’m a gamer, and being able to build a video game’s look was the most fun and exciting idea that any career has ever ignited in me!
When did you know you wanted to pursue your current career, and what drove you towards it?
I knew I wanted to pursue a career in the video games industry as a 3D Artist the moment I started getting really involved at Immersed. I’ve had quite a few mentors that showed me what I could potentially create and how my creations would contribute to a video game. After learning the skills and the whole pipeline, something clicked in my head. I was inspired, excited, and hopeful for the first time in my life about my career. Video games are still a growing industry, and I’ve never known or considered 3D art as a career while growing up, so I felt special to be part of a newly growing profession.
What are your favorite hobbies or activities you do for fun?
I like playing all types of video games and board games, especially with my friends! I also enjoy going to special events, like conventions, and traveling and exploring unfamiliar places.
Do you play any musical instruments or play any sports?
I used to play tennis and the guitar, but nowadays I just sing and listen to music.
Who do you look up to and admire?
I admire Hayley Kiyoko, who is my favorite famous person in entertainment. I relate a lot to her from a personal standpoint, and I appreciate her vibrant and positive attitude towards life and people.
What advice would you give a student interested in pursuing your career?
Do not let anyone tell you that art is not a viable career. Every company, from games to advertising to restaurants, etc, has to have artists, so they can have their own branded look or style. There are also so many types of visual artists: production artists, graphic designers, 2D artists, 3D artists, etc. If you love it, and are willing to put the effort and time into it, you can excel in any field. Become knowledgeable, practice, and don’t let ignorant people get you down.
What advice would you give students in general?
Pursue your own dreams despite opposition. Working on something you love will bring you personal happiness and success that others wouldn’t be able to understand.
What are some interesting places you’ve traveled?
I’ve traveled to Indonesia, where my parents are from, Singapore, and Malaysia. Within the US, I’ve traveled to San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Atlanta, Oregon, New York, and Chicago.
For more about Florencia and her career path, watch this video: