Get to Know Us

Get to know our world-class staff and see why we’re one of the top arts universities in the country.
Want to get in touch with us? Visit the Directories.
Nicolás Villarreal

Director of Visual Development

Nicolás P. Villarreal was raised in La Plata, Argentina, and studied at Escuela de Animacion y Cinematografía de Avellaneda, as well as under the tutelage of well-known Argentinian artist Miguel Alzugaray. Villarreal graduated with honors from the Master’s program at Academy of Art University in 2002. He has worked as a traditional animator, character designer, sculptor, and Visual Development artist for film and video game companies, including Walt Disney Studios, Sony Computer Entertainment, Jim Henson Studios, Sega, Digital Domain, Reel FX, and Amazon Studios. He has given presentations and screened his films at Pixar Animation Studios, DreamWorks Animation, Blue Sky Studios, the Sydney Opera House and several universities in South America and Europe.

Chris Carman

Associate Director of Visual Development

Chris Carman is a versatile and communicative graphic artist with strong background in web and mobile based games, apps, as well as design for the entertainment, education, and design industries. He currently works for Zynga and has previously worked for Adobe Systems/BYXB, Multiverse, Bardo Entertainment, Electronic Arts/Maxis, Giftventure Entertainment, and others.

Jeremy Saliba

Online Curriculum Coordinator

Jeremy Saliba received his BFA in Illustration with an emphasis in 2D Animation from Academy of Art University. He joined the Academy as a part-time instructor in 2007 and is currently Online Curriculum Coordinator for the School of Visual Development. In addition to teaching, he is a Cover Artist for Dynamite Entertainment, and was Art Director for UltraSylvania, a graphic novel. Previously, he worked as a Digital Artist, Concept Artist, and Character Designer for a client list that includes companies such as Nvidia graphics and Tor books.

Francis Hsu

Full-Time Faculty / Curriculum Coordinator

Francis Hsu received a BFA in Illustration from Academy of Art University. He has many years of professional experience working for film and games in studios such as Weta, ILM, and Lucas Arts. Francis has been teaching Figure Drawing and Background Painting at the Academy since 2000 and is currently Full-Time Faculty / Curriculum Coordinator for the School of Visual Development.

Alessandro Squitti

VIS Production / LA Italian Lead Faculty

Originally from Rome, Alessandro Squitti has a Master’s Degree in Italian Language and Literature from Sapienza University. He joined the Academy as a Lab Technician in 2000 and has helped organize the Fall Animation Festival and Spring Show. As a freelance web designer and videographer, he’s worked with Current TV, Notable Inc. and Red Clover Studios, and the company he co-founded, CurlyHairedPeople Films, has created more than 20 short action films, including award winning music videos. He also promotes community events for the Italian Cultural Institute of San Francisco.

Steven Kloepfer

Full-Time Faculty

Steven Kloepfer has more than 20 years of professional experience in Illustration. He has been an instructor/consultant of art with the San Mateo Park and Recreation Department and PDI, copywriter/producer/consultant with DKS Creative, owner/illustrator of Creative Illustrator, freelance desktop publisher and freelance editor. His previous clients have included Atari Games, Pandemonium Pictures, Black Swan Press, Scalawag Studios, Kirson Works, Adams & Allgood, Fearon Education, Apple Computer, Charles Schwab, SKI, and Stanford University. He is an associate member of the California Academy of Painters. Steve is currently Full-Time Faculty in the Academy of Art University’s School of Illustration and School of Visual Development. Prior to becoming full-time faculty, Steve had been teaching at Academy of Art University since 2002.