Academy of Arts University Graduate Wins Oscar


Academy of Arts University alumni, Daniel Arriaga’s outstanding work on the Disney-Pixar film Coco was rewarded by gaining an Oscar for Best Animated Feature. For Daniel Arriaga, Coco was the culmination of years of dedicated training, as well as painstaking research that allowed him to share his passion for both animation and pride in his Mexican culture. The movie follows a young boy named Miguel as he journeys to the Land of the Dead where he encounters deceased family members during the Mexican celebration El Día de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead). During Miguel’s quest to overcome a long-time family ban on music, he discovers his family’s true heritage. The films animation focuses on the skeletons, floral, and spirit motifs significance to the culture using gorgeous colors and details. Daniel Arriaga returned to Academy of Arts University to share his experience with current students. His advice to them was to create a portfolio of their work that displays the different animation skills they have learned, and to be open minded, transformative, and tenacious when searching for new opportunities and employment options. Those are the tactics he developed while studying at the Academy of Arts University that eventually led him to his current position at Pixar.

Academy of Art University was founded in 1929 in San Francisco, California. The Academy started out in a rented loft with a mere 45 students. By 1946, the student body had grown to 250 students and the school was relocated to 740 Taylor St. Under the leadership of Richard A Stephens, son of the original founder, the Academy had grown to over 5,000 students, and began offering a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts. In 1977 the school added its first graduate program and a Master of Fine Arts Degree, and in 1985 it gained accreditation from NASAD (National Association of School of Art and Design). Today, the Academy continues to lead the way with innovation and creativity.

Academy of Art University is recognized as one of the top art schools in the country that continuously graduates individuals with multiple creative disciplines. The Academy keeps an industry presence on campus through company presentations, guest lecturers, portfolio reviews, and recruiting sessions. Examples of some of the prominent companies in the industry that currently employ Academy of Art University alumni are Abercrombie & Fitch, Chanel, Christian Dior, Facebook, and Ford Motor Company just to name a few.

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