Entertainment Arts

'15

Melissa Oakley

Capacity

Designer/Animator

Within a year of graduating from Detroit’s College for Creative Studies (CCS), Melissa Oakley has found a home among several creative communities of entertainment arts professionals living and working in the Los Angeles-area. She is a designer/animator for Capacity, a design/animation studio based in Burbank, California.

Within a year of graduating from Detroit’s College for Creative Studies (CCS), Melissa Oakley has found a home among several creative communities of entertainment arts professionals living and working in the Los Angeles-area. She is a designer/animator for Capacity, a design/animation studio based in Burbank, California.

“Los Angeles is a fantastic location to be a part of creative communities,” said Oakley, who graduated with high honors and was awarded Senior Select of the Entertainment Arts Department. “I use every opportunity I can to network with other creatives in (and outside) of my field. I’m currently a member of a global creative community called Women In Animation, and I try and attend their monthly 'mixers' to meet as many other women in the animation field as possible!

“Other events I enjoy attending are the MADRE Motion Graphic lectures, the Digital Media Artists: Los Angeles (DMALA) presentation events once a month and 30KFT Common Wealth events for like-minded community strengthening in LA. My network grows and grows with each new event I attend. And I've yet to have a bad experience. All you have to do is put yourself outside of your comfort zone; the feeling is so rewarding!”

Oakley interned at Capacity the summer of her junior school year and landed a staff position at the studio following her graduation last May (2015). She considers herself a motion graphic artist who uses film, animation and graphic design skills to tell a story. At Capacity, she is part of a small, “yet powerful” team of artists who create graphics for projects ranging from commercials to network packages to live video game tournaments. This involves designing frames that are used to create the final look of a piece as well as the technical end of building assets and animating different parts of the sequence.

“Each person brings something different to the table,” she said. “Seeing the finished piece with your contribution, whether big or small, is always so rewarding.”

What Oakley enjoys most about her career is the constant problem solving she faces on a daily basis. Whether it’s design-related or a technical challenge, she finds it gratifying to spend her time trying to solve problems and eventually overcoming hurdles.

“Sometimes it takes days to test out new approaches,” Oakley explained. “There were times I'd go home to my personal office after work to just sit down and think, or lay in bed in the morning and test out new approaches in my mind. But in the end, absolutely every hindrance I faced during my workday made me a much stronger artist overall.”

While Oakley is enjoying the success she’s found in the entertainment industry, she initially had a difficult time deciding which field she belonged in as a creative. In high school, she honed her foundation drawing abilities and explored an interest in long-exposure photography. She applied to CCS with the intention of becoming an art therapist. During her freshman orientation, she was impressed with how the Entertainment Arts Department “functioned so effortlessly like a team,” and got the “gut feeling” that's where she belonged.

“Little did I know that teamwork would eventually become an essential part of my every day work week!” she exclaimed. “I loved every year at CCS. From the network of people I met there to the contagious and enthusiastic spirit of midtown-Detroit, I have no complaints about my academic career at CCS. Like much of life, what you get out of the experience is what you put in.”

While it’s still early to establish specific, long-term goals, Oakley plans to continue learning from other talented artists in the industry to determine what the future as a motion designer has in store for her.

“At this point in time, I'm new to everything and so humbled by the talent that surrounds me in LA,” she said. “My career outlook and perspective about being an artist in general has matured this past year, and my mind feels so much more developed. I know it will continue to grow more and more!

“Some words of wisdom I keep at the forefront of my mind are ‘to always stay true to yourself.’ Your inner voice as an artist is something I feel is always developing, and it’s the only thing that can really set yourself apart from the world of creatives around you. As I've experienced the professional world this last year, I've met many people who’ve lost their inner voice. I've had struggles and periods of time where I've forgotten to nurture my own. Be conscious of that particular topic, idea or philosophy that ignites your inner creative fire. Continuing your personal work (outside of your professional career) will ensure that fire always burns bright.”

To check out more of Oakley’s work, visit www.melissaoakley.design.