Thursday, April 3, 2014

Favourite Artists: A revisit

I recently had another look at some favourite artists, this time with a focus on how they seem to have developed their career and made a name for themselves.

And also some process gifs because these are always inspiring, and make me feel like I could be capable of producing artwork like this.

This is Luke Mancini, also known as Mr. Jack. He works as a full-time concept artist and illustrator at Blizzard, and managed to land a position there after the StarCraft art team found his fan art. He had already applied for a job there but had heard no response, and it was only after the StarCraft team kept seeing his fan art online that they decided to look him up and subsequently realise he'd already applied. Since then he's worked on Starcraft, Heroes of the Storm, the World of Warcraft TCG and Warmachine.

I suppose in this case we are reminded of the importance of keeping artwork updated online, as his job application wouldn't have progressed anywhere if the team hadn't found his art through other means. Luke doesn't even appear to have a personal website, instead favouring DeviantArt and Twitter. Even then, he doesn't seem too active on Twitter, though it is linked with his other medias so that when he uploads artwork, a tweet notifies his fans. I suppose as he's working full-time he doesn't really need to concern himself with this sort of thing too much, it's likely that the sheer quality of his work alone has attracted his considerable fan-base.

He described his workflow. "Sometimes the design team will come along with a strong idea of what they want. Like, they might have a new StarCraft unit, and they'll know they want it do perform a specific function, so we'll then sketch things based on that. I've been doing lots of work on campaign stuff, though. They might have a jungle planet, and they'll say, okay, we need aliens that look like they'd live in a jungle, so I'd sit down and do a whole bunch of illustrations. We have a lot of leeway when we're doing that kind of environmental stuff." (source)

A background of his education: "When I finished high school I didn't really know what I wanted to do; I only knew I wanted to do something art-related, so I applied for some design degrees, as well as a game art course at RMIT," he told me. "I decided that the graphic design degree was a bit broader, so if I came out at the end of that, I could still go and do something else, whereas the game art degree was a lot narrower."

"It was not 100% relevant to what I'm doing now, but I really enjoyed the course. I wasn't too stressed and I could take some time out doing my fan art on the side," he recalled. "I could just spend time developing my skills, plus I think there's a lot to be said for the design sensibilities I picked up during that course. A lot of it is about ways of thinking, so while the typography and layout design I did isn't really relevant to my job, when I'm doing an illustration, it helps me with my design, layout, and composition."

I suppose this has made me think more about whether I want to aim to go freelance or work for a company. It seems that working for somewhere like Blizzard would be a lot of fun, despite the stylistic limitations, and I certainly wouldn't complain about making sci-fi and fantasy art for a living. There would be much more financial security as well as the opportunity to explore other artistic avenues on the side. However you'd have to be very good to get picked up so quickly by such a large company.

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