Dylan Nordhagen

New Media Major

Spring 2021 Semester

Expected Graduation of Spring 2022

When I first arrived at the University of Tampa, I had my doubts about whether I was on the right path or not. I felt like I didn’t understand myself very well, and I wasn’t sure what I would want to study and ultimately center my career around, outside of my long-running hobbies and appreciation for illustration and video games. I joined the New Media program because it covered a variety of creative media forms and I wanted to figure out what I truly enjoyed. Two years into my degree, I would say the major has definitely fulfilled that goal. I gained a newfound appreciation for 3D modelling thanks to Marcio’s classes, and Santiago’s coding classes re-ignited a passion for programming that I had lost back in high school due to some particularly poor professors, for example.

Thanks to these classes and more, I’ve been able to build up an impressive portfolio of creative content, especially in areas that I would have never thought to experiment in without my college education. I pride myself on my versatility and my ability to put my all into projects without pushing myself to unhealthy limits; my efforts have certainly shown in the amount of Hall of Fame designations that Santiago has bestowed upon me. Beyond that, however, I think many of the projects I’ve completed (especially ones in which I’m given more creative control) are distinctly my own in style and aesthetics. Despite the wide variety of projects I’ve taken on, they tend to share some consistent and recognizable traits; usage of bright and colorful palettes in art, a focus on creativity and expression, and emphasis placed on charming or humorous scenarios that bring smiles to people’s faces. I think being able to look at a production or piece of work and instantly associate it to its creator is indicative of a strong and compelling identity.

While I am proud of the body of work I’ve created so far, I worry that my college experience has been shallow outside of said work. My professors have stressed the importance of building connections, because making a portfolio can ultimately be done anywhere. Despite this, my perfectionist habits and dedication to my work often leave me limited time for other activities offered by the university. Similarly, I believe I haven’t gone far enough in my efforts to reach out to employers or work opportunities, and the ones I have generally end with no response. The advent of a worldwide pandemic that shifted nearly all of my courses to online delivery for over a year certainly didn’t do any favors either. With instruction largely moving back to in-person soon, I hope to take advantage of my time left at university to reach out to more of my peers, become more active on campus, and seek out more work opportunities in order to build a stronger network.

Following my graduation, I currently see myself entering the games industry in some fashion, as I have long dreamed about doing since childhood. The video game industry is a place that requires a variety of talents, so my studies and expertise in character design, coding, 3D modelling, and writing will surely come in handy. Being able to cover multiple roles at once is an especially important skill in the growing community of independent game developers. In the indie scene, I’ll be able to work with a smaller and close-knit team on a more personal creative vision. I also plan to continue taking freelance commissions, and may even look into other forms of sharing my work such as opening a merch store. Ultimately, however, my main desire is to be able to flex my creative muscles and make things that can provide people with a sense of wonder and joy, much like I felt as a kid when introduced to my favorite games.