Monday, March 27th, 2017
MI 491: Game Writing
Elizabeth LaPensée, Ph.D.
Offered Fully Online
Summer 2017, July 5 – August 18
Are you interested in writing for games? Video games, role playing games, text games, board games, choose-your-own adventure stories, you name it!
Don’t know where to begin or know where to begin but need to develop your skills and portfolio for industry or independent work?
Jump into the online summer course Game Writing, where you’ll:
– Learn about game writing techniques for industry and indie game development
– Explore readily available tools to increase skills in game writing
– Create a portfolio-ready game writing sample
No previous experience required!
Open to all students in Communication Arts & Sciences and Arts & Letters.
For an override, go to: override.cas.msu.edu.
For more information, contact Elizabeth LaPensée at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thursday, March 23rd, 2017
Each year, young creatives from the College of Communication Arts and Sciences submit their work in the hopes of winning an ADDY Award. The annual award ceremony is organized by the American Advertising Federation and the Mid-Michigan Creative Alliance and recognizes students and professionals for their work in TV, print, design and digital.
Above: Ad created by Madison Johnson for her brand “Bad Habits Brewing Company,” won her a Gold ADDY and Judge’s Choice award. She won 11 awards in total.
The submitted works were judged by a panel of professional advertising creatives, including Andy Azula, the creative director and vice president at The Martin Agency in Richmond, Virginia; Silver Guellar III, from Van Winkle + Associates in Atlanta, Georgia; and Melanie Wiesenthal, a partner at Deerfield, a branding and design studio that focuses on fashion and beauty in Brooklyn, New York.
Eric Schwartz, advertising senior and Silver ADDY winner, looks forward to the ADDYs each year, as they promote and reward students in the MSU Department of Advertising + Public Relations and local professionals for their hard work.
“The ADDYs to me is such a great way to celebrate the work that students do in and outside of the classroom, and the hard work that professionals are doing in the industry just down the road,” said Schwartz. “The students in the creative concentration within the advertising program are small and few, so having an event to celebrate and bring all of us together is really special – it’s a family reunion of sorts.”
This year’s entries included ads for Fruit of the Loom, Walgreens, Best Buy as well as companies and brands created by the students.
Above: Ad created by Madison Johnson, won a Gold ADDY for TV Advertising and an Excellence in Diversity award.
Students stole the show with stunning work
Recent advertising grad Lauren Cutler was awarded a Gold ADDY for work on a brand she created called Lumberjane, with fellow student Matt Richter. The brief they were given was to create packaging and advertising for a brewing company – for women, by women. Cutler also won a Judge’s Choice award for the brand, which she was excited to receive from judge Andy Azula.
“This year’s ADDYs was really wonderful. The student work was exceptional, even compared to last year’s,” said Cutler. “The most rewarding part of the whole experience is seeing your classmates and friends be recognized for the awesome stuff they do and to celebrate all our hard work together!”
A total of 60-plus awards were given to students in MSU’s Advertising + Public Relations program this year. However, if this were the Olympics, senior Madison Johnson would be Michael Phelps. She left the ADDYs as the most decorated student of all time. With 11 awards, ranging in color from Bronze to Gold and a Judge’s Choice, Johnson said she felt very lucky.
“The awards I am most proud of are my Judge’s Choice and Best in Show for Bad Habits Brewing,” said Johnson. “I created the project over the summer in the Intensive Portfolio Workshop with Henry Brimmer and Lou Schiavone, but kept working on it afterward which is something that I should do with all my projects. Because I spent so much time on it, refining and adding, it was really great to get recognized for the hard work.”
Another honorable mention includes Tiffany Nagy’s “Coming Out” film trailer, which won gold for Television Advertising.
Above: Ad created by Tiffany Nagy, won gold for Television Advertising.
Celebrating creative work
Ross Chowles, professor of practice in the MSU Department of Advertising + Public Relations, compared having an ADDY award on a resume as “ringing a bell” that the student has something special about them.
“You could have a nice portfolio, but having an award starts to ring a little bell that this person is different,” said Chowles. “More important, I guess, is that competitive spirit, that belief in their work. The problem with our business is it’s all of gut feel. It helps
acknowledge your gut feel when someone says ‘Yeah, it’s great’, but even then, it’s the judges’ opinions.”
A Gold ADDY allows the winner entrance into a regional competition and, depending on performance, potentially entered at the national level. We wish our Gold ADDY winning students the best of luck in the upcoming competitions!
View all of the ADDY Award entries on the Mid-Michigan Creative Alliance’s website.
Tuesday, February 21st, 2017
In the class MI 497: Game Design Studio, media and information students with enthusiasm for game design are given real-world opportunities to create digital gaming experiences for users. A team of six students from the class, ranging from 3D art, programming and design roles, created a game called “Bunny Skate,” which reached #38 in the kid’s 9-11 category on the App Store in December 2016.
“We wanted to create a fun mobile experience that anyone could play,” said Sage Miller, a media and information senior. “Most feedback came from friends and family, however, we were able to connect with many gamers from across the world through Twitter and sent them early versions of the game.”
The creators describe the game as an “endless skating adventure.” The object of the game is to control the bunny and skate around an ice rink through a variety of environments, collecting carrots meanwhile avoiding wolves and other obstacles along the way. Once you have collected the carrots, you can use them to purchase a chest, which allows the player to receive a random hat throughout the game. The goal is to obtain as many hats as possible, with a number of 50 possible during the course of the game. Some of these hats hold a secret power that can assist your character through the course.
“I think the idea sparked from the time of the year and what fit for our scope of the project,” said media and information senior Evan Jones. “We wanted to make a mobile game so we had to keep it simple and fun. We knew we wanted to release it around Christmas time so ice and other snowy environments were necessary.”
Bunny Skate was approved and published on the App Store and Google Play just a couple of days before Christmas. The students said they are pleased with how the game turned out, but it was no walk in the park to create the successful finished product.
“We had a rough beginning. We started with a different kind of game and we struggled to find the ‘fun’ in what we were doing,” said media and information senior Clark Ruiz. “But after four weeks, we scrapped that idea and started working on what would become the game you know (Bunny Skate)! It was great once we had the final idea, since we were able to polish something simple.”
Miller said one of the greatest features of the game is that it’s accessible, “It’s easy for anyone to pick up and have fun with it.
Each team member highlighted how important it is to collaborate with others and be on the same page. Trusting each other’s skills while allowing each person to take charge of certain elements was critical to overcoming obstacles as a group and making it to the finish line.
“The collaboration between the team members was great,” said Jones. “We all came together with our different strengths and used them to our advantage. I think teamwork and being able to work well with others will make you a better person in the long run.”
Jones continued, “Communication is the key when working with a group. Making sure everyone was on the same page and on task was something that we did well.”
Clark Ruiz – 3D Art
Evan Jones – 3D Art
Alec Velthov – 3D Art
Matthew Smith – Programming
Homer Chen – Programming
Sage Miller – Design
By Emmy Virkus
Tuesday, February 14th, 2017
Immersive experiences within new spaces at the MSU College of Communication Arts and Sciences are empowering students with the acumen they’ll need to excel in competitive, tech-driven media careers.
The college’s new Spartan Newsroom and Immersive Media Studio invite students to collaborate, gain real-life experiences and build professional skills. The newsroom welcomed its first students in fall 2016 and went “live” during the General Election, while the immersive studio opened for classes in January 2017. The innovative, cross-functional spaces equip students for 21st century jobs by engaging them in the development and delivery of news, animation, game design and immersive interactive media content involving motion capture, augmented and virtual realities.
“Having the experience to work within a professional pipeline facility will make a student’s transition into a real-world situation smoother and more successful,” says Stacey Fox, professor of animation, mixed realities and immersive journalism in the MSU School of Journalism. “It also teaches students the importance of respecting a production space.”
The expansive learning spaces sit in the middle of the first floor of the ComArtSci building. Students and faculty are free to move seamlessly from one area to the next when producing or creating content, or when working on collaborative media projects. Many high-activity areas and broadcasting studios are viewable through glass walls, giving passers-by a Today Show experience.
Fox says students often remark on how lucky they feel to have such a beautiful, state-of-the-art facility in which to produce new works. She adds that the new space and studio places ComArtSci on the forefront alongside major universities like Arizona State University, California Institute of the Arts and New York University in offering curriculum and training in global media production.
“Our space is unique in that it has the latest in motion capture and learning technologies for classroom collaboration, production and immersion,” says Fox. “Spartans and the general public are able to see the whole process in real time when they walk by and look through the floor to ceiling glass windows.”
Learning by doing, learning with others
Julie Dunmire was in the initial group of students to experience the power of the new spaces. The broadcast journalism student worked in the newsroom on Election Day 2016, and was the first person to read a live report from the news anchor desk. Dunmire currently takes a class in the newsroom and sometimes interacts with students from other ComArtSci disciplines who are learning and working within the immersive spaces.
“News is not in ‘silos’ anymore,” says Dunmire. “We have to stop thinking about ourselves as ‘photojournalists’ or ‘writers’ or ‘anchors’ because we will all have similar tasks and roles in a digital age.”
Like Dunmire, other students believe that what you learn in a traditional classroom is far different than what you can learn in an immersive or real-world environment.
Media and Information undergraduate Michael Grassi focuses on 3D animation studies and is applying his craft through the immersive studio. His big take-away, he says, is learning to operate advanced motion capture systems and apply motion capture files to 3D animation.
“The new systems we have access to are professional grade equipment, and the products professionals use to make a living,” says Grassi. “Knowing how to operate them and having access to their benefits as a college student preparing for the professional workplace gives us invaluable experience. It shortens the learning curve potential employers would face if they were to hire us.”
Creative Advertising undergraduate Michael Cagney echoes the sentiment. Cagney is continuing to learn the ins and outs of the studio’s motion capture system, and has begun to integrate motion capture skills into his other animation abilities. Those experiences, he says, have strengthened his confidence, and are shaping the direction he will take when he graduates in May.
“I’ve learned how to operate the motion capture system for myself and for others in a professional setting,” he says. “I would like to pursue a job in animation and possibly mocap.”
In addition to applying their skills in news, animation and motion capture arenas, students and faculty can design and produce virtual reality broadcasts and 360 animation renderings for immersive storytelling. The center opens up possibilities for cross-campus collaborations in almost any area, including those underway in athletics, health and medicine and theatre.
“Along with offering our courses in the space, we will also be utilizing the immersive media studio to host events such as game design jams, animation festivals and this February the Cultural Digi Summit in partnership with the Smithsonian Latino Center. We will have industry leaders in technology and culture in residence for two days utilizing the new spaces,” says Fox. “It’s a very exciting time to be at the MSU School of Journalism and ComArtSci.”
By Ann Kammerer
Friday, February 10th, 2017
Liv Larsen had an extraordinary senior year at Michigan State University — to say the least. The former journalism student, with a minor in documentary film studies, along with her crew produced a documentary called “From Flint” that won a student academy award in 2016.
In May, Larsen moved to New York City to fulfill her passion of working for a production company at 4th Row Films. As a production intern, she was assigned three documentaries to work on. She came up with different ideas for the director and tried to put her spin on the little details when she saw an opportunity. She even got to attend a few of the shoots.
“I really got to see first hand how different people interview,” Larsen said. “The director’s style was different from my style and I was able to see how to set up the whole production in the real world.”
She excels at the logistics behind the shoot, “Whether it’s applying for grants, setting up the location or making sure everyone’s on the same page; I really enjoy these aspects,” said Larsen.
Larsen claims that her favorite part of the internship was collaborating with other interns.
“The interns pretty much got free reign to give ideas,” Larsen said. “It was great to have that group and connection, in case we wanted to collaborate on future projects together.”
To her surprise, after completing her internship in New York City, Larsen found herself wanting to try her hand in independent filmmaking. After completing her award-winning documentary in Professor Bob Albers’ class, she thought she wanted to work for a large production company, shooting films, but realized that she had a desire to pursue her own personal film style.
“I don’t think I would be where I am today if it wasn’t for my student film,” Larsen said. “After it won a Student Academy Award, our crew filed to work with an actual distribution company, which is amazing.”
Larsen said no member of her crew had actually been to Flint before creating this film. The main task of the film was to see how they could get involved with the community of Flint and make an impact.
“After doing basic internet research, we met with a few people, which turned into more people,” Larsen said. “The film started to unfold and the community of Flint embraced us with open arms. Our crew just took it one step at a time. The whole thing was a puzzle we put together, since we only had a semester to do it. It was so rewarding at the end.”
Currently, Larsen is still living in New York City, pursuing her dream of independent filmmaking. She’s doing freelance work, which involved working on a project for Netflix, and currently producing another independent documentary film.
Her interest in documentary filmmaking evolved over time as she added new skills and learned more about the field.
“I have always been involved in the arts as a kid,” Larsen said. “Then I came to MSU and I had my journalism major, but I wasn’t completely satisfied with just that. After joining Telecasters and SideShow, I wanted to get more involved.”
Larsen always liked documentaries because they went further into telling stories and resonated with people a little more. She enjoys how one documentary can cover so much and bring out the layers of an issue.
She said the difference between her crew’s coverage of Flint and every other major news outlet was their angle. The networks were covering the city of Flint based on the government. Larsen and her crew covered Flint based on the people.
“Everybody can relate to someone else,” Larsen said. “You can emphasize with someone and try to understand their tragedy. Everyone has a story worth telling. So to me, it’s a mission to find these stories that are untold and tell them in a way that’s never been done before.”
By Meg Dedyne
Wednesday, February 1st, 2017
What do Twitter, Lego figurines and advertising all have in common? For the average person, not much. For advertising professor Ross Chowles, it represents something larger.
Chowles is in his second semester teaching at MSU. He grew up in South Africa where he was one of the founding partners of the successful advertising agency, The Jupiter Drawing Room Cape Town.
He recently started an out-of-the-box social media experiment with his portfolio preparation class (ADV 450). Chowles gave each student a Lego figurine where they had to act as that character and create a tone of voice via Twitter.
Creative advertising major and graphic design minor Travis Root grew up watching the movie ‘Nacho Libre,’ and decided to base his Lego character off of the movie.
Root’s character was an over-the-top wrestler. With no background in Spanish, Root decided to write all of his character’s Tweets in Spanish to really get into the tone of his character.
“I was excited about the opportunity to use jokes and memes from the ‘Nacho Libre’ movie,” Root said. “For authenticity sake I decided to do the whole thing in Spanish so I had to use Google translate and occasionally Bing translate.”
The senior said his future will hopefully include working with people to collaborate and be creative.
“He (Chowles) is really supportive in creative stuff,” Root said. “Ross has really great ideas and he is always willing to make you think about things in new ways but he’s not so binary about the whole thing. All of the assignments are based to benefit our portfolio and he just wants to help us make a really solid portfolio.”
Senior in creative advertising Alex Grajewski took on the role as a bodybuilder Lego. According to Grajewski, Chowles gave him this character to represent Grajewski’s own workout routine.
“I think I am going to continue it (his character) after because my friends don’t know it’s me, so I have been following some of my friends and I have been Tweeting at them so they will tell me to look on Twitter about this Lego person,” Grajewski joked.
Grajewski said he would like to check out Seattle or the San Francisco area after graduating from MSU. He said he relies on this class to help him build his portfolio.
“I would like to be an art director,” Grajewski said. “I want to get really into doing ad campaigns and stay away from doing the sales. I want to make something people are going to remember.”
Jamie Miller is a creative advertising major who took on the role of an ‘80s gym bunny Lego for her project in the class.
“He (Chowles) has come up with more unique projects than I have seen,” Miller said. “He wanted us to completely embody these characters and do our own thing with it. I wasn’t born in the ‘80s, I was on my computer looking up terms from the ‘80s and stuff.”
Miller said she has been interested in advertising ever since she was young. Miller said she remembered times where she would be watching TV and ads would stand out to her.
“When I would watch TV advertisements they weren’t boring to me and I would notice the good ones,” Miller said. “I like being more on the creative side, you can have that creative thinking and apply that to something practical.”
The senior said she is moving to Boston after graduation and is looking to work with an advertising agency. Until then she said working with Chowles has helped prepare her for life outside of MSU.
“It was a very interesting way of looking at tone and promoting an image,” Miller said. “We started this whole community and we started getting random people following us. It just shows how much social media can spread so quickly.”
With social media being one of the new trends for brands to communicate, Chowles said advertising agencies look for students with an understanding in using social media as a platform for brand conversations.
“In my mind the idea is that at the end of the course they are leaving with a professional portfolio that will go and get them a job at a better agency,” Chowles said. “So you have to fill it with things that agencies say ‘Ok, we do that. We need that.’”
“Clients are excited about this medium and all its possibilities but also you can’t control what consumers say,” Chowles said. “Traditional marketing you can control because you make a TV ad and you put it out but social media people talk and answer back. Our job is to start this conversation.
The Twitter experiment is still up and running. Students have been posting new Tweets every week.
“From what I have seen the students don’t get taught enough of it,” Chowles said. “They may get taught social media as a theory but not enough as a creative application. Good use of social media is to spark a conversation and I wanted my students to get into that headspace of having a conversation.”
“I want them to understand brand personality online because most brands when they speak it is boring and humanless stuff,” Chowles said. “Social media is the absolute opposite. We seek out stuff that is funny, charming and interesting.”
Tuesday, January 24th, 2017
Media and Information’s Elizabeth LaPensée and Jon Whiting paired up to create two new games called “Manoominike” and “Mikan” for the Duluth Children’s Museum in Minnesota. With the help of the museum and a committee of Anishinaabe community members, these games pinpoint specific teachings about the practice of ricing in Anishinaabemowin (Anishinaabe language). These games launched at the free Manoomin Exhibit Opening in Duluth on Friday, Jan. 13, 2017.
“I’m blown away by seeing the Manoomin exhibit at the Duluth Children’s Museum, which will be up for several years complete, with the games Manoominike and Mikan in wiigiwaam,” said LaPensée.
With assistants of the committee and contributions from Ojibwemowning Digital Arts Studio, this collaboration involved design and art by Elizabeth LaPensée, programming by Tyler Coleman, and sound by Jon Whiting. The game, Manoominike (meaning “wild rice”) in Anishinaabemowin, gives users a motion-controlled experience that is surrounded by elements and imagery of modern ricing in a fabricated wigwam, a real-life look and feel. The second game called Mikan (meaning “find it”) is a mobile game that intends to pass on phrases about ricing in Anishinaabemowin such as jiimaan (meaning “canoe”).
“The greatest challenge of all involved creating games that could be played in short experiences in a museum, while honoring the vastness of the ricing tradition,” said LaPensée.
The Manoomin exhibit and the Manoominike and Mikan games were made possible through support from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Legacy Fund and the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation’s Anishinaabe Fund.
“I’m grateful for input from the committee as well as community members who see what I hope to pass on through these games –the importance of ricing and sustainable harvesting practices directed at youth, the next generations, who will continue these teachings,” said LaPensée.
By Emmy Virkus
Monday, January 23rd, 2017
As the editor of her high school yearbook during her senior year, advertising senior Sarah Goodyear knew she wanted to continue her passion for visual art.
“I really enjoy designing, but designing for a purpose,” Goodyear said. “I think it’s awesome to be able to give a company or organization a voice. Each place I’ve worked for has had their own style. That’s really exciting to me.”
Goodyear is currently using her minor in graphic design as an intern in the Office for International Students and Scholars (OISS) at Michigan State University. She has been creating graphics for OISS since May 2016. She designs flyers, event posters and social media graphics for any event or internal messaging that needs a visual component.
“When I am first given the content for the graphic I am supposed to create, I look over the content and decide what is the most important piece of information to highlight,” Goodyear said. “I decide how to lay out the information on the page, starting with the text. Sometimes I even draw it out. I love it, because I pretty much have complete creative freedom, as long as I make sure I am sticking with the brand standards for MSU and OISS.”
Her favorite part of this internship is working with the people in the office.
“It’s been so much fun learning about different cultures,” Goodyear said. “I never would have seen myself working with so many different people with different backgrounds, so it’s definitely been one of my favorite places to work.”
Goodyear said she collaborates with other staff members and students on a daily basis and that she is fortunate to work on campus.
“Working for an MSU department is awesome,” Goodyear said. “I feel like a part of the university as a whole.”
Goodyear said that her coworkers and different experiences she has encountered in the office helped prepare her for a trip to Shanghai, China in November. She was part of a group of students from the Department of Advertising + PR that competed in the annual One Show Greater China Festival.
“My supervisor, Skyin, is from China, so she was giving me a lot of helpful information,” Goodyear said. “So many other people in the office already having that international experience made it a lot easier of a transition once I got over there.”
She also participated in the Minds (Wide) Open competition at MSU in September and her team received second place for their creative campaign ideas.
Minds (Wide) Open has a concept similar to the competition in China, but on a smaller scale. Goodyear was on a team with one other American and five Chinese students and, together, they created a fully-integrated ad campaign for their client.
There were 80 students from various parts of the world that came to MSU for Minds (Wide) Open. After Goodyear’s experience at the One Show Greater China Festival in Shanghai, she better understood the barriers that one has to overcome when developing and designing a campaign in a foreign country.
“It was a great experience, but pretty challenging,” Goodyear said. “The whole competition was in Chinese, so there was a language barrier. The students were great and we had translators, which was helpful, but it made it harder to work on the brief. Both competitions were incredible experiences.”
The client in China was Snickers and they had to develop a campaign around the popular Chinese app, QQ. Goodyear said it was most difficult to come up with ideas for QQ, since their team had just been introduced to the app.
Goodyear also designs for The Red Cedar Log, MSU’s yearbook. The photographers and writers send her photos and content and then she designs the pages.
“It’s really fun reading all of the stories in the yearbook,” Goodyear said. “There are some really awesome student groups that I have never heard of before.”
After graduation in May 2017, Goodyear would like to end up at an agency where she can use creative freedom and express her ideas.
“I am super thankful for MSU and my classes here,” Goodyear said. “If I went to a different school, I don’t think I would have had the same opportunities.”
By Meg Dedyne
Friday, January 13th, 2017
Many people dream of turning their passions into a career. For Geoff Johns, his love of comic books and their iconic characters – Superman, Batman, The Flash and Green Lantern – was all the fuel he needed to pursue a career in media and entertainment.
In 2016, Johns hit superhero status at DC Entertainment when he was promoted to president and chief creative officer of the company. Johns is now leading a new era for the DC Universe, revamping the stories of his favorite childhood superheroes – including Wonder Woman, who will be at the center of the first female-powered superhero movie, set to release in summer 2017.
Becoming Geoff Johns
Johns graduated from Michigan State University in 1995 and studied media arts, screenwriting, film production and film theory. As a student, he took advantage of the unique opportunities at MSU, from film club to physics classes.
“I’ll set aside the fact that it’s a beautiful campus, that the culture is amazing, that it has the biggest comic book collection in the world, which is awesome,” Johns told us, while reflecting on his time at MSU. “But, the thing that was so valuable to me is that you find that whatever you’re interested in, they have something for it.”
Johns was drawn to classes in film and media production, and crashed MSU’s library of comic books, as he worked to develop a better knowledge of film, screenplays and characters. He also found value in the basics like economics and physics, ultimately preparing him for the business side of his budding career.
Two physics classes in particular made a lasting impact. “The physics of light and color and the physics of sound. Those two classes were really valuable to me both in my storytelling as a writer, as well as in production, because they actually taught me how light works, how color works, how we interpret sound and how sound works.”
He continued, “If you want to be a screenwriter, my advice would be don’t just take writing (classes). You need to study production, accounting, history, everything that you think will help you tell your story. I think that the more you can broaden your horizons the better, and you can do that at MSU.”
Meanwhile, across the country…
After college, Johns started his career in Los Angeles, working as an intern alongside the original Superman director, Richard Donner. He later became an assistant to Donner, wrote alongside him, and picked up industry insights along the way. In his professional career, Johns has become one of the most decorated comic book writers of his time. He has written highly acclaimed stories starring Superman, Green Lantern, the Flash, Teen Titans and Justice Society of America and is a New York Times best selling author for his comics.
As a hero in the halls of his office, Johns will play a crucial role in DC Entertainment’s current rebirth, aiming to bring DC Comics back to the basics and focus on storytelling first. Ultimately, striving to minimize the gap that lies between diehard fans and movie critics.
“At the end of the day, the thing I’m most interested in and the thing I’m most passionate about is story and character,” said Johns.
One idea Johns picked up from Donner that stuck with him is the concept of superheroes as “healthy junk food,” promoting a positive message while also entertaining. Johns told us that Donner believed, “you never do entertainment under the guise of a message, you do a message under the guise of entertainment. Whether it’s Superman’s inspiration and hope, or Batman’s justice – they all have these wonderful moral qualities to them and I think that’s why people respond to these characters so much.”
According to Johns, superheroes aren’t just fun to watch. It’s more about why they do what they do and how they do it that matters and is exciting to the viewer. When asked what superhero was most like him, he said it changes everyday.
“There are some days where you think you feel like Batman, where the world is dark and you have to fight back. There are days when you want to inspire like Superman. I’d say (I’m most like) Green Lantern. I love Green Lantern, I wrote him for 9 years, he’s all about willpower and perseverance and that’s how I got to where I am. I’ve got a lot of willpower and perseverance and I love what I do. And if you want to succeed that’s what you need to have.”
Wisdom built and shared
Perseverance, willpower and the ability to learn from past mistakes are all traits of popular superheroes – and even Johns himself. These traits have allowed him to face challenges head-on, working and learning as his career progressed.
“The truth is that the hurdles that I’ve faced in business and in my career have just been learning experiences. There are times when you try a new project and it doesn’t work or you’re working with someone and the chemistry isn’t producing the best work,” Johns told us. “Any kind of hurdle or challenge, as long as you keep working at it and try to learn from it, it’s ultimately a very good thing.”
Johns’ positive outlook on professional experiences – good or bad – has helped him to grow in his career. Never expecting a handout, always working for everything he’s received, Johns set out to prove himself and encourages current students to do the same.
“Being in the real world, in the job, you’re not going to be promoted just because you’ve been there a year. It’s not like school where you move on and you move up. You’ve got to prove yourself. You’ve got to work hard,” said Johns. “I loved Michigan State. I got so much from it and learned so much from my time there. And the one thing that they can’t teach you is when you’re in it. Get out here and really be a part of it.”
Sparty the next superhero?
Johns gave us some insight into what Sparty might look like as a comic book character, sharing how he would draw him.
“If we were going to draw him, he’d be as broad as Superman, maybe a little taller. We might want to give him a flowing cape, a green cape would be cool. I think he’d definitely be on the Justice League, though. He’s kind of a cross between a superhero and Popeye.”
And we’re sure that just like Johns, Sparty’s superhero would show the world how Spartans Will.
By Nikki W. O’Meara
Thursday, January 12th, 2017
Just a couple of days after Michigan State University released students for winter break, I had an amazing opportunity to travel to the Windy City with 38 other students and two faculty members. During this experience with ADV 402, a field experience course offered at ComArtSci, we visited several companies in the advertising and public relations field. We were able to make connections with MSU alumni, and gain a firm grasp on how the communications industry thrives in Chicago.
My study away trip was insightful, reassuring and most importantly, fun! Each student was assigned to their own itinerary for the week, which included a list of companies and times that we had to report to each one. While our faculty leaders John Besley and Andy Corner were there to make sure things ran smoothly, each student was primarily responsible for their own transportation to each site, living arrangements, food and free time, which we all made sure to take great advantage of.
Our group visited a total of 22 companies in a span of four days. Students were given the option to arrive in Chicago a day early to explore and prepare for a non-required visit Monday morning at the top public relations firm in the United States, Edelman. For me, this addition to the trip wa
s extra exciting because I plan to build a career in Public Relations. As a bonus, Edelman has been on my radar as a potential place to work for quite some time. Some of my best friends came on the trip as well, so we took an early train in on Sunday morning and had a free day to walk around, eat some Lou Malnati’s pizza (yum), and soak in the city lights before our busy week.
A common message that a lot of these companies went by was that a company’s collaborative, fun culture is the key to success. Going by the “work hard, play hard” motto, employers stressed how important it is to consider your co-workers as family and friends, while also maintaining close relationships with them outside of the office. One of my favorite takeaways from this trip was hearing the stories from MSU alumni about how they got to where they are today. As some students have already started to hit the panic button because they haven’t found a job yet, these employers made sure to emphasize how success will find its way if we stay persistent, confident and true to our values.
On Tuesday night, we had a student and alumni mixer set up for us at a restaurant called BlackFinn. Since going to each company consisted of group tours and soaking in a lot of information, it was difficult to stand out and talk to employers one-on-one. This was a great chance to be more personal with the alumni, exchange business cards and ask last-minute questions about their work. This is always a great way to relieve stress while getting to know everybody on a personal and professional level –my favorite portion of our week.
As my second study away experience with ADV 402 (first being in Los Angeles), I strongly encourage all students to take advantage of these special opportunities. To gain perspective from a wide range of professionals, while building connections at the same time, isn’t something you get in the classroom. My eyes have been opened on these trips because now I know what I want to do and don’t want to do, where I want to end up, and I have a great list of contacts to help me along the way.
Thank you to #ComArtSci, our alumni and our universal Spartan Network!
By Emmy Virkus
Full list of Companies:
Big Ten Network
Fishman Public Relations