Kankakee Community College (KCC) graduate Andy Senesac could draw ever since he could hold a pencil.
From sketching landscape down by the Kankakee River to drawing his favorite Saturday morning cartoon characters, Senesac always wanted to be an artist. In addition to creating his own drawings, he fondly remembers watching his grandma, a fine artist, paint, draw, and make ceramics.
“I remember watching my grandma draw with a steady hand and being mesmerized by the beautiful things she could create,” said Senesac. “One could say that I wanted to be an artist just like her when I grew up.”
Fast-forward 30 years, and Senesac is living his childhood dream. However, instead of using a pencil to create his art, he is behind the computer designing video games. Senesac is the senior technical artist/lead facial artist at Netherrealm Studios in Chicago.
“I have a dream job where I get to have fun every day, said Senesac. “It’s rewarding to design something that begins as concept on paper, logging all the hours individually and with the team to create a full production, and holding the final disk. The feeling is indescribable.”
Senesac loves his career, but game design wasn’t on his radar when he began classes at KCC after high school.
While he was in high school, Senesac took Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) classes. Because CAD intrigued him and it gave him another outlet to design and create, he decided he wanted to pursue it in college—and the Bourbonnais resident didn’t have to look far.
“I found what I was looking for at KCC,” said Senesac. “It was close to home and affordable, and I was able to take CAD and studio art classes, two areas that interested me.”
Senesac describes KCC as the perfect place to start a college career because the college allows students to discover themselves and how to turn their passions into careers.
“Attending KCC allowed me marry two of my passions and discover the kind of careers available based on my interests,” said Senesac. “Attending KCC ultimately helped me mold my future by showing me how to follow my dreams to have gainful employment.”
Even though KCC didn’t offer game design when Senesac attended, today the college offers a degree with a specialization in graphic design. The college’s Computer Graphic Technology program prepares students for employment as graphics technicians. Three specializations are offered for students to develop skills in a specific area of interest including game design.
After Senesac earned his degree from KCC, he transferred to Art Institute to pursue his BA in Media Arts and Animation.
“KCC helped me establish a good foundation before transferring to complete my bachelor’s degree,” said Senesac. “Courses at KCC were challenging, and I felt prepared to concentrate on my specialty classes at the Art Institute.”
When it came time to look for a career after college, Senesac learned of an opportunity at a small graphics studio, where he got to work on all aspects of game design. From design to editing, he had the chance to polish his skills and find his specialty.
“The video game industry can be cutthroat and it’s milestone based, but I have been lucky to grow my career,” said Senesac.
After spending two and a half years being a generalist, he had developed a strong demo reel. Senesac was able to get his foot in the door at a larger company, Midway Games. Midway was eventually acquired by Warner Brothers and reborn as Netherrealm Studios
“I work on the Cinematics team alongside some extremely talented artists,” said Senesac. I'm in charge of the entire facial pipeline and also do cinematic layout and staging. We juggle a lot of different facets on our team, including story mode and in-game cinematic moments.”
Senesac enjoys the challenges of being a visual artist, and watching how two to three years of work culminate into a final product. Even though he’s moving forward, and growing his career, he doesn’t forget his roots—from starting his college career at KCC to picking up a pencil as a child.
“It might sound cliché, but KCC encouraged me to follow my dreams,” said Senesac. “The path I took, helped me wind up where I am today.”
And while he got his training from KCC, his family’s encouragement is how he got started.
“My parents always encouraged me to pursue the arts,” said Senesac, who also plays guitar. “It’s gratifying to make my family proud.”