John McIntosh,
Chair of Computer Art

"I have always felt fortunate to be surrounded by smart, talented artists - much smarter and more talented then I could ever imagine or deserve."

John received an M.F.A. from the Yale School of Art at Yale University and is a widely exhibited photographer and experienced educator. Previous to SVA, John was the Associate Director of the Kodak Center for Creative Imaging; the Director of Technology Programs and the Associate Director of Education at the American Film Institute; and, the Director of Training and Artist Development at Digital Domain.

John McIntosh has served as a member of the Educational Advisory Committee of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) and the Media Habitat Advisory Committee of the Canadian Film Centre. From 1997 to 1998, he authored the feature article Key Frame for MacWEEK magazine. John was a contributing editor to RES magazine, where his feature article POV appeared from 1999-2001. John was appointed the Chair of the Computer Animation Festival for SIGGRAPH 2002 and as a member of the advisory boards of FMX 2011 and PROMAX BDA, as well as a jury member for SIGGRAPH ASIA 2012.

Chair's Statement

Computer Art is a creative discipline that many people believe is driven by machines, not people; technicians, not artists. Nothing could be further from the truth. We have witnessed over two decades of work produced by technicians with computers. For the earliest pioneers, mastering the technical challenges was as impressive as the visual results. The crudest image, the most basic animation was an accomplishment, a victory over a clumsy and often frustrating technology.

Today we speak of software being intuitive and elegant. And with more artists mastering these once complex tools, the visual effects and animations we see are clearly more impressive every year. For many of you a computer is an intrinsic part of your life. The computational power on your desktop rivals that of supercomputers from only one decade ago. Today, the most esoteric applications are delivered in shrink-wrapped packages including step-by-step tutorials. Yet with all these advances, we still get lost in the technology. Technology can still stifle an artist faster than it will empower them. If you let it.

Technology is important but it is never an end in itself.

While there is no escaping the technical demands you face in computer art, you must know much more than what any software application can offer. You must be curious, uncompromising and possess an active imagination. You must have the acute color and compositional skills of a painter, the observational skills of a photographer and the sequencing skills of a film editor. You must have a commitment to your art that surpasses the requirements of a job or a homework assignment. You must be alert, focused and engaged.

Your vision is more important than technology.

Your passion to be an artist will determine to what extent you will pursue learning your craft. You must be uncompromising in the quality and clarity of the images you create. You have to be your own critic and have the confidence that comes only with hard work. An artist's passion is confidence. It cannot be taught and it cannot be simulated. Passion is enthusiasm and it is precious.

Your passion to create is more important than technology.

Vision, passion and technology are the critical elements in your art. This is a field in which you cannot succeed without nurturing, if not mastering, all three. Like every creative pursuit, the clarity of your goals and the passion for your work will determine your success.

Welcome to the Computer Art Department at SVA.

  • John McIntosh, Chair
  • BFA Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual Effects
  • School of Visual Arts
  • 212.592.2526 |

Image Credit: John McIntosh