Senior Artist, Vicarious
Pro Skater 3 for Game Boy Advance. I am lead artist and game designer
for this project. My role is to oversee and work with a team of two other
artists on tasks including designing levels and level art, producing skater
animation and textures, and creating HUD and UI elements.
Degree: I received a B.A. in Computer Science from
The University of North Texas and an M.F.A. in Computer Art from The Savannah
College of Art and Design.
Were there any particular projects or areas of study that you pursued?
I learned the basics of game art while involved with the Laboratory For
Recreational Computing at North Texas. I focused on art for games as opposed
to high-end computer imagery at SCAD. My thesis project was a virtual
museum of art and technology created in the Quake III engine.
Did you do any
While at SCAD, I was a C++ tutor, a T.A. for a Houdini class, and an assistant
Tell us about
your first job in the industry. How did you get the job? What was it like?
What were your responsibilities?
My first job in the industry is my current job with Vicarious Visions.
During my last quarter at SCAD, V.V. came down on a recruiting trip and
had interviews and portfolio evaluations. I presented my work, which included
both game assets and traditional art. After a follow up interview at the
company, I was hired as a Game Boy artist. My initial responsibilities
included creating low color level graphics for Game Boy Color games. After
a few projects, I moved on to developing assets for Game Boy Advance games.
What jobs have
you held in the games industry thus far? Briefly describe the career path
you took to get where you are today.
This is my first job in the game industry, but most of my previous experience
has been with computers. I have been a computer instructor, a technology
specialist for a school board, a system administrator, and a digital artist.
The path I took to end up in the games industry includes all the experience
I gained with these jobs and my decision to return to school to obtain
a Master's in computer art.
of study, specific courses, or life experiences would you recommend to
students interested in your field?
If you are interested in digital art, it pays to attend a national conference
or the Game
Developers Conference, to get a better understanding of where the
industry is currently and where it is heading. Better yet, be a student
volunteer and get the inside scoop for free. I have been a volunteer at
both conventions and have had very rewarding experiences. Also, join or
start a group that mods existing games. If you create models and levels
for existing game engines, like Quake or Unreal, you will gain a better
understanding of the steps it takes to create assets and help build your
portfolio with work relevant to the games industry.
Is there anything
you wish someone had told you before you got into the games industry?
Is there anything you would have done differently?
Surround yourself with people who have like interests. This doesn't just
mean find friends who like to play games. Not everyone wants be a developer.
Check out schools that specialize in game development or let you specialize.
If you are already attending school, try focusing your assignments on
creating assets for games. Instead of skinning a high-poly model for an
animation, see if you can substitute a low poly one for real-time. If
that's still not possible, seek out groups on-line and participate in
forums. Ask lots of questions and post lots work to get feedback.
As games increase
in complexity, what are the various kinds of jobs that you foresee development
companies needing in the next five years?
It seems like the industry will be in need of more technical
artists. Artists will need to be able to script some of their own
utilities and deal with more complex tools to achieve ever-increasing
levels of realism, or style as the case may be. Game artist roles are
beginning to split, much like their movie industry
counterparts already have, into highly technical specialists and traditional
artists who work together to create tools and assets.
Do you have
any other advice or recommendations to share with students who are interested
in doing what you do?
Keep at it. This is my first job in the industry and it's taken me a while.
I have had several jobs, lived in several states and attended several
schools. If you get rejected from a school or a job, don't give up. You
might have to put your plans on hold while you are developing your skills
or your portfolio, but remember that there are lots of jobs that can teach
you invaluable experience in what might be considered a not so related