Jump into a fantasy world with art teacher Cameron Seibly

A friend commissioned Seibly to create a drawing of the World of Warcraft video game, which is one of his favorite art pieces he has made. (Illustration courtesy of Cameron Seibly.)

Art teacher Cameron Seibly has been “world building” since he was a child, first with Legos and 3D modeling kits and then with digital art. Inspired by the creative process behind “Lord of the Rings” and “Blade Runner,” Seibly wants to share his love of fantasy worlds through teaching art.

As a child, Seibly knew he wanted to take creativity into the rest of his life. Because of his love of Legos, his family thought he would grow up to be an architect. Once he discovered drawing, his creativity was no longer restricted to plastic blocks.

Then Seibly discovered “Lord of the Rings.”

“‘Lord of the Rings’ made me fall in love with the grand epic world, and I have always enjoyed losing myself in fantasy,” Seibly said.

Another fantasy world that inspired Seibly was 1982’s “Blade Runner.” Syd Mead, the concept artist for the movie, is one of Seibly’s heroes.

“[He] really did put a lot of effort into creating the world, and making the world feel like it was real and then making everything in the world feel like it belonged,” Seibly said, “I’m kind of a huge geek and fan of 1980s technology in the future.”

In the same vein, Seibly draws inspiration from the 1970s and 80s artist Moebius.

Art teacher Cameron Seibly (right) and his wife Maninder (left) celebrate Diwali at the San Jose Gurdwara. (Photo courtesy of Cameron Seibly.)

“His art was very much a combination of illustration and graphics.” Seibly said, “Just the way he approached this surreal vision of what the future could be.”

After graduating from Mission College and West Valley College with a degree in 3D modeling and digital painting, Seibly’s dream of creating fantasy worlds turned into a harsh reality; he needed a job.

“My original goal was to go to college and become a game designer or some kind of filmmaker,” Seibly said. “You have these dreams of what you want to do, you push yourself toward those goals, and then you understand that it’s a lot harder than you thought, and it’s expensive to live in the Bay Area.”

But a summer job at Camp Galileo opened new paths for Seibly.

“I always enjoyed tutoring people in college,” Seibly said. “I decided to take a summer job with Galileo summer camps because they were offering a video games [design camp] for kids.”

Seibly found teaching at camp to be more rewarding than he expected.

“I was really surprised at how much fun I had when I was teaching in that summer camp,” Seibly said. “I liked the energy of the camp, and how much the kids seemed to enjoy being there. [I liked] the interaction with the kids and sharing my passion, and in turn seeing that passion in the children.”

After camp, Seibly started substitute teaching. Eventually he started seeing a place for himself in the “real” world.

Seibly’s cats, Sheru (left) and Maya (right), sit on the back of a chair. (Photo courtesy of Cameron Seibly.)

Seibly’s first job in the world of full-time teaching was teaching art at Alpha: Cornerstone Academy Preparatory School. While there, he was able to expand the school’s art department to include film and digital art.

When Seibly saw the opening at UPA, he jumped at the chance to work there. He was familiar with the school from his time substitute teaching various classes.

Seibly’s vision of the future is one where art and science are more closely intertwined.

“First, art is symbolism and we thrive on symbolism,” Seibly said, “Also, art is creativity, and it is always important to promote creativity. Science is not just math or smarts alone. Most of human intelligence is our ability to be creative, to solve problems or express ourselves in creative ways.”