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Animator Lucas Schmidt loves his work

"Jobs should be about doing what you really like," said Lucas Schmidt, 21 year-old animator. "I don't really want to do anything, I want to play. The only way to be paid to play is to be an artist."

Schmidt's apartment is full of toys. They clear his always brimming head. "Every now and again, I buy something soft, makes noises, bounces or flashes," he said. It informs his art. A student of 2-D and 3-D arts, Schmidt reflects on what he has learned. "Our teachers love trying to get us to define 'art'," he said. "No matter what words we use they always play the Devil's advocate. I've come to accept that there is no true definition of art"&

166; but it should make you happy."

"I came to this through my love for video games and cartoons," said Schmidt. "I'm from a very small town of 12,000 people and 35 churches. I needed to get away!"

Schmidt, who grew up in Arizona next to his wood-carving father's workshop, cites a bit of a short attention span as one of his main influences in his workings with cartons, computer animations, video game development and model-making. "I like all sorts of art that doesn't directly influence me; Dali, H.R. Giger, Andy Goldsworthy. Goldsworthy plays with stuff. That's pretty much what I do. I also get lots of inspiration from random things I see on the internet."

"My favorite quote from one of my professors is, 'if you're not ripping someone off, you're working too hard.' I've adapted that rather liberally," said Schmidt, who loves talking with people and interacting to test various ideas.

In addition to his tech-savy, Schmidt loves physical activity and has a passion for Japanese, in his third year of study of the language, and following a summer in Japan, Schmidt is semi-fluent. "That'll probably get me closer to a job in my field than any artistic ability." Still, Schmidt is angling for a domestic job, though possibly with a Japanese company. "Living in Japan would be hard, for the language and the hierarchy of the culture," said Schmidt. "It would be quit a struggle to integrate into the business culture."

"What it pretty much comes down to is that I'm a nerd. But I'm a capable nerd who goes rock climbing and stuff," said Schmidt. "I want to be like a nerd-MacGyver-boy scout; getting badges in everything!" He finds animation and model creation a grand facet of his MTV mindset. On of the more left-field integration he has found is how acting classes can inform the animator. "Taking a beginning acting class, learning how people move and how emotions are conveyed through facial expressions and such is crucial," said Schmidt. "I should not be a director. I should be someone's slave-lackey monkey butler. Tell me what to do, and I'll get it done."

Next term at Southern Oregon University, Schmidt begins his capstone, designing a 3-dimensional robot. To do this, he's going to start by doing what he loves best; playing with toys. "I'm going back to Arizona over the break to grab my Legos," he said. "I have very intricate ones. I can begin modeling the robot and using different gears and connectors to test how realistic the movements could be."

One thing Schmidt can't stand is dreary art. He cites roving the art buildings at SOU and discovering that some art students created installation art consisting of filling the stairwells with trash. "That can be annoying. Some people are really, really good here," said Schmidt. "But other times I think people should ask themselves, 'is there any other way I could convey my message?'." Schmidt mentions one recent work, consisting of a refrigerator filled with intricately placed rotting food made him, "Ashamed to be an artist."

But, for Schmidt, the wheels keep turning, within a mind filled with moving parts. "I'm very sad that philosophy is a dead art. It contributes to the apathy of America," said Schmidt. "People don't think enough, so I try to make up for their lack of thought."