University of Southern Indiana

Alumni Spotlight

Alumni - Tristan Thompson

Screamin' Eagle
Screamin' Eagle, 16 X 20,  Photoshop w/Wacom Tablet, 2015

  • Name: Tristan Thompson
  • Year of graduation: 2013
  • Location: Indianapolis, IN
  • Social Media:
    Website: tristarr-art.com
    Instagram: @tristarr.art
    Dribbble: dribbble.com/tristarr
    Behance: behance.net/tristarr
    Twitch: twitch.tv/tristarr_art
    Facebook: facebook.com/tristarr.art

What are you currently doing for work (employment)?

In the summer after I graduated, I got a job as a Graphic Artist at Main Gate, Inc. I worked there for about 2 ½ years before I called it quits due to a stifling creative environment. I got to work on cool projects like Kobe Bryant and Harley-Davidson, but the corporate world plays it safe with creativity. I took up a part-time job instructing one of those Wine & Canvas type businesses so that I could work on my portfolio, freelance, and do the stuff that really challenges me.

What is your fondest memory of the Art and Design Department?

I took an elective class my last semester with Chuck Armstrong in which a group of 5 or so students worked collaboratively on a short movie. All of our strengths were put to work together, and even though we never made a final product, it was really fulfilling to see what each person would come up with for the story every week.

What was the most important thing you learned in an Art/Design class?

Off the top of my head, the most important thing I learned and that I miss is critique. When you’re a freshman, it’s the worst part of any project because you don’t want to trash on anyone’s work, and God-forbid any one of these people say anything negative about my masterpiece. However, by senior year everyone had learned how to dish out constructive criticism and take it. Being able to take or even get criticism in the professional world is invaluable.

Kobe Bryant | 20 Years
Kobe Bryant | 20 Years, 16 X 20, Photoshop w/Wacom Tablet, 2016

How are you currently exercising your creativity (artwork, etc.)?

I have more freelance work than I know what to do with right now, and that route of work, although inconsistent, allows me to get really creative with my work. If I don’t have any incoming jobs, I assign myself projects in order to challenge myself. These projects are usually made for self-promo purposes and sold at local art shows and conventions.

How do you use your personal work in the classroom? Or are these two careers kept separate? Why/Why not?

Start freelancing now. I would say I learned just as much working on my own and Googling any questions I had as I did in any class.  If you’re a student, I would say it’s ok to do work for free to a certain extent. Keep your time valuable, though. Don’t let people exploit you by saying “This work will lead to paying work” or “It’ll be good exposure”. Just pick and choose your jobs, and don’t be a slave. Don’t budge from your prices, either. If you’re not getting enough bites, move on and lower your price for the next customer.


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