Why Study Computer Graphics at Syracuse University - Doug Jaeger

In Chapter 2 of 12 in his 2011 Capture Your Flag interview with host Erik Michielsen, designer Doug Jaeger shares the decision inputs that informed his choice to study computer graphics at Syracuse University. He highlights influences across his friends, family, and personal interests. Ultimately Jaeger chooses Syracuse a strong balance between academics - science, history, English - and arts and design. Jaeger is a partner at design firm JaegerSloan - http://jaegersloan.com/ - and is also president of the Art Director's Club - http://www.adcglobal.org/ . Previously he founded thehappycorp and has served in creative director leadership roles at TBWA/Chiat/Day and JWT. Jaeger holds a BFA in Computer Graphics and Art Media Studies from Syracuse University.


Erik Michielsen: When you were at Syracuse University, what propelled you to focus on computer graphics?

Doug Jaeger:  That's an interesting question. I went to Syracuse because I growing up had a friend, his name was Pete Berthold, and his father was an engineer at BellCorp. BellCorp was the company that defined all the business operating systems for the phone systems, and had the latest Macintosh computer at his house  all the time. In the basement, never being used. It was like the home computer that dad would use when we weren't around as kids, you know, we got home from school, dad wasn't there, we'd play with the computer. I learned about HyperCard and all these computer software way before schools had them, and uh, my friend Pete, my friend Sean, all these guys I was growing up with, were all playing with basic and basicA and all these crazy, geeky things.

Pete was one year older than me. And he was the year ahead of me doing research  he lived, you know, right down the block and he was doing research on what schools to go to, and he built this list of schools, and one was RISD, another one was, University of Arts in Philadelphia had a computer program, there was RIT, Syracuse was one of them - there were very few number of schools on the east coast I was limited because my parents didn't want me to go too far away. And, there was this idea Pete was just like, I'm going to Syracuse. 

And he came back during his break and told me all about you know the technology, and they had this really great SGI lab they were doing 3D modeling in, and he in a sense convinced me that this was a great place to go. Because Pete was a friend of mine, I trusted him.

We were doing a lot of the same things, we were both artists and we were making videos and we were using the computer and so he went there, and then as a result, I went there. And, I wanted to go to RISD because I thought it had greater, you know, creative output  in general it is a more creative school, but my parents felt really strongly, they wanted me to have a basis in academics. You know they wanted me to have science and history classes and English, they thought it was just really important. And so, although RISD has Brown as a sidepiece, they thought I would not do that. And so they felt that it's a school that could control me, put me in this little box where I would do all those things. And so, the city was not an option for me my parents grew up in the city, and they just didn't want me to go there and to learn there, they just thought it would be too corrupting and forced.

And so they wanted me to go somewhere protected, and so Syracuse was that place. And the program was computer graphics, which was half computer science and half art. And the art portion was photography, you know, studio photography, filmmaking, non-linear editing, 3D modeling and interaction design. And I also tried to take classes in conventional design  I had lots of peers that were in design courses as well. And so I was really able to kind of, you know, get experience very early on, on the full palate of what media is and its potential.