Ballistic Publishing Artist Profiles show all

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Getting a foot in the door

As soon as I entered the ILM art department in 1993, I knew film design was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I was amazed by all the great artwork on the walls and range of subject matter you could work on as a film designer. I lived in Ohio and had no exposure to the film industry.

The internship allowed me three months to have access to art directors, model makers and visual effects artists. I decided to make every second count. I knew it was a small network and very hard to get inside. I plunged into my second “mission” in life and decided I was going to do everything in my power to get a design job.

Every night and weekend, I practiced my drawing and rendering skills. I was completely obsessed. Even after the internship was over, I continued training myself. Because I didn’t have any professional film experience, I made up my own. I gave myself an imaginary film assignment based on an existing science fiction book. After my day job I worked on storyboards, concept art and character designs to fill my portfolio. Four months later my luck and hard work paid off, and I was hired as a staff Conceptual Artist at ILM.
Concept 5
Technique

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve had a bulletin board on my wall with photocopies of an assortment of work from my favorite artists. Every so often I’ll swap out images with new ones that inspire me.

This wall of images inspires me, and the featured artists have become my silent teachers over the years. By comparing my work to the leaders in the industry as well as my favorite painters in art history, I’ve had a constant reminder that there is always more to learn.

  It is impossible to become complacent with my work. I could struggle all weekend on an illustration, think it was pretty good, but then put it up on my wall for critique. It would be lacking in comparison, but as long as I advanced in some aspect, I felt like it was time well spent. If I thought I painted a sky pretty well, I’d just put it next to a Frederick Church painting and laugh. I just keep plugging away at the whole artistic process and patiently watch my skills evolve.
Concept 6
Starting Out

My first film job was drawing VFX storyboards and concept design for ‘Forrest Gump’. I remember this was before Photoshop because I’d have to trace the background plates from a Movie-O-La (a film light table) and painstakingly draw out everything before adding the visual effect. I was absorbing all the mechanics of visual effects production and where a concept artist fits in. I then started working as a VFX Art Director, on films like ‘Mission: Impossible’, and ‘Jurassic Park: Lost World’. I immersed myself in the world of computer graphics and managing people. After six years I found myself with a lot of VFX experience, but very little experience with designing a film from early on - the more creative side.

  That was the work that intrigued me from the beginning and I wanted to get back on that track. I found that almost all of the really creative work was done in pre-production versus visual effects production. I decided in 1999 to change my career path again and left ILM in pursuit of working in pre-production. I searched for an imaginative and design-heavy film that would entertain my interests in science fiction and industrial design. In 2000, my wish was granted and I was hired to help design the ‘Matrix Reloaded’ and ‘Matrix Revolutions’.
Concept 7

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