In addition to the 2019 Academy Award for Best Animated Film, the alumnus’ work on Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse also earned him the 2019 Golden Globe Award in the animated film category.

Alumnus Tyquane Wright‘s reaction to winning an Oscar, a Golden Globe, and numerous other awards for his work on the visual effects (VFX) of the animated film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was one of sheer disbelief.

“There were a few nights where I cried in my room and thought, ‘This can’t be real!'” says Wright. “I do sometimes have a problem accepting compliments or praise. As an artist, coming out of an academic program where you become accustomed to critique, you have to adjust to the idea of your hard work paying off, being deserving of commendation, and not being suspicious of accolades.”

Yet, it is precisely Wright’s enormous talent for the visual arts, honed as an undergraduate student in the Brooklyn College Department of Art, that makes him deserving of the acclaim his diligence has garnered him. His was part of the artistic vision that helped put a contemporary spin on the Marvel Comics superhero Spider-Man, introducing the character to a whole new generation of consumers. Sony’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse—about the exploits of an alternate universe Spider-Man named Miles Morales, an Afro-Latinx middle school student—is unlike any animated film that came before it. Inspired by the layouts, lettering, and unique coloring style of print comic books, it bursts onto the screen like a moving version of a graphic novel, with all the high-energy, imagination, “BOOMS!” and “BAMS!” one would expect of a superhero blockbuster.

“I was part of an incredible team of like-minded and motivated technical artists. Specifically, as one of the lighting and compositing technical directors, I was responsible for coloring and assembling layers of animated elements to help influence the overall look and final image that we see on the big screen,” Wright says. “Although our title is ‘technical,’ for Spider-Verse, we were artists. Our teams were given some liberty in directing and mimicking shading styles that resemble the traditional Marvel Comics universe. Small and bright halftone dots were used to represent highlights. Other times, techniques such as cross hatching and line thickness represented the darkest areas of the image. The technical leads, team supervisors, and VFX supervisor worked in unison to present the best possible version of shots to the film’s directors.”

Wright is a third-generation artist born and raised in Brooklyn. His mother is African American, and his father, a former graffiti artist (just like Miles Morales, the main character in Into the Spider-Verse), is of Trinidadian-Venezuelan descent. Wright’s paternal grandfather is a painter, and his paternal uncle is an interior designer. Though the pursuit of art is clearly generational, he did not initially imagine a career in the field.

“Even when going to Edward R. Murrow, a high school that focuses on the arts, my teachers encouraged me academically, steering me toward advanced English and science classes. I thought I would eventually become a teacher. I always looked up to my teachers; they were my heroes.”

It was Wright’s father, a Kingsborough Community College alumnus and vocal supporter of the City University of New York (CUNY) education system, who suggested he attend Brooklyn College based on its reputation for providing a rigorous curriculum taught by award-winning faculty. Wright initially took one computer science course and one art course at the college. He enjoyed them so much that he enrolled as a full-time student the following semester, majoring in studio art with minors and concentrations in Africana studies and computer science. Still, he thought he would become a photographer or a painter. He did not yet know that the merging of those first classes would catapult him on his award-winning trajectory.

While at Brooklyn College, Wright became a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow. The fellowship is an upper-division honors program designed to attract highly qualified minority students and others who are interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in a specific field and demonstrate a commitment to eradicating racial disparities. The goal of the program is to increase the number of underrepresented minorities on college faculties by helping minority students of exceptional promise to aspire to academic careers.

Wright’s participation in the fellowship led him to become a peer computer science/math tutor, one of three part-time employment positions he held while a student. He also interned at the Metropolitan Museum of Art as a community outreach coordinator, helping younger generations understand the benefits of visiting museums via promotional cultural events. And finally, he was a cadet for the New York Police Department (NYPD) for which he received an academic scholarship.

Wright also took advantage of other available opportunities at the college, including a transformative experience in the Ghana Study Abroad Program.

“Professor Lynda Day is, hands-down, the whole reason I applied to participate in the study abroad program and also the reason I applied for the Mellon Fellowship. She’s a great counselor and constantly reminded me of the prospects available to me. She wanted me to broaden my artistic experience.”

Wright visited Kumasi, Ghana, where he got to speak with the residents and learn from them how to craft their native kente cloth. It was both a cultural and social immersion for him and an inherently political one as he recognized his privileges as an American visiting a space outside of his frame of reference. Still, he was welcomed.

“A kid off the street named Armstrong called out to me kindly: ‘What are you here for, brother?’ And I told him that I wanted to weave kente cloth. And he said: ‘I’m going to take you to my village.’ And from that moment, the trip changed,” Wright remembers. “With Professor Day’s permission, I diverted from the program’s scheduled stop at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and went to Armstrong’s village. We ate food together in his customary way, without utensils, using just our fingers. And after we ate, he took me to a place to weave kente.”

This experience sparked his sense of adventure and his realization that his artistic talents were borderless and could take him around the globe.

“I remember Tyquane as one of the big talents in the college’s art program at the time,” says Professor of Art Ronaldo Kiel. He was energetic and not afraid of doing extra work. In an independent study project with me, he was the first student I had to present a fully animated character in a dance sequence. I have taught computer art at the college since the early 2000s, and I was certain that Tyquane would make a mark in this highly competitive field.”

After graduating from Brooklyn College cum laude with a B.F.A., Wright attended New York University (NYU), where he received his master of science in digital imaging. He spent some time as a freelance digital artist, working on various independent projects, including the “When I See U” music video for American Idol winner Fantasia Barrino, then served as technical director of lighting at Rising Sun Pictures in Adelaide, Australia. Wright scored a position at Sony Imageworks when a recruiter came across his thesis film online and sent him an e-mail. Wright has been at Sony since 2009, and is currently senior look development technical director, operating out of Vancouver, British Columbia.

“Opportunities often fell into my lap simply by me sharing the best versions of my homework,” Wright says. “I always gave 100% to my class assignments. I treated homework as if I was delivering work to a client.”

Wright has no plans to rest on his laurels. He is already hard at work on another highly anticipated Sony film, Spider-Man: Far From Home. He believes the key to his success has been in being open to the possibilities. Additionally, he is a mentor to other up-and-coming artists in the industry and is always happy to assists those in need of his talents. Not too long ago, he returned to the campus to lend his experience and expertise to the Black and Latino Male Initiative (BLMI), an academic support program designed to increase the graduation and retention rates of black, Latino, and other historically underrepresented male students enrolled at Brooklyn College. He believes giving back is essential to achievement, and that there were many whose mentorship and interest was central to his own accomplishments, including Brooklyn College faculty members Day, Kiel, William T. Williams (emeritus), and others.

“I did not plan to work on animated feature films. My interest was in traditional photography or painting. I knew I loved computer graphics and art. So before graduating from Brooklyn College and NYU, I met countless people who shaped my career within that industry,” he says. “Possibilities will open up by making genuine connections with those who have similar passions. Eventually, it will lead to great things. Oh, and one more thing: Always be generous and thankful to all those you encounter along the way!”

For a complete listing of Tyquane Wright’s projects and artistic achievements, visit his IMDb page. To keep up with his adventures, follow him and his spouse on Instagram.

Brooklyn College is able to provide students with the rigorous education and artistic experiences that allow them to become the leaders in local and global communities and sought-after experts in their fields just like Tyquane Wright thanks to the generosity of alumni and friends received through the Brooklyn College Foundation. To learn about the various ways to contribute to student success, please visit the foundation website.