In the Loop
Alumni News : Nov 9, 2016

Ceramics MFA alumna takes on new gig: Designing the world of video games

By Mandy McDade

The jump from ceramics to video games may not seem like an obvious one, but for Rhonda Chan (MFA ’13), it was a smooth transition. The graduate of the School of Art + Art History recently accepted the position of anvironment artist at Ready at Dawn Studios in California.

As part of the team, Chan is responsible for designing the world in which the video games take place. This means that Chan designs everything from the buildings, to the terrain, to the vehicles that exist in the universe of the game. In a sense, she is bringing the game to life by giving it a complex and recognizable environment.

Chan calls her studies in ceramics a “springboard” for thinking about environments.

“My sculptural work is figurative, and all characters have a world or a space in which they exist,” Chan explained. “It’s jarring to jerk them out of that space and force them into ours, in a gallery space.”

Chan’s work in exploring environments conceptually was realized in her MFA exhibition, which included a 3D modular environment that served as the backdrop to her ceramics figures. Environments are not always easy to execute in ceramics, but Chan understood that they were an essential part of the presentation.

While at UF, Chan took Jack Stenner’s Art and Animation class, which helped her learn the basics of some of the software used in 3D production. The class was an important step in thinking about how to approach digital products, according to Chan.

Realizing that environment art is a constantly growing field with new and evolving programs, however, she continued to accumulate knowledge well after graduation. Chan went on to graduate from a two-year program at Gnomon School of Visual Effects.

“If you don’t keep abreast of new tools, it’s easy to get left behind,” Chan said.

As an environment artist, Chan plays a huge role in designing games that thousands of people will play. It allows her to synthesize her love of ceramics and gaming, and gives her the opportunity to work in an innovative and creative field.

“It’s great to have a job where you come in and build cool stuff every day,” Chan said.

To view more of Chan’s work, visit her website: