Welcome to the first in a series of interviews here at Ruby Wings Blog. Each month I will be interviewing someone from the online world. They could be someone creative, quirky, geeky or a fellow spoonie. I’m really not picky; the whole point of this is to open up dialogue, share with the world and if you wish, bring awareness to your work or a cause. Interviews are open to anyone who wishes to take part so if you’re interested in volunteering please check out the Interview information page.
I am very lucky to have the wonderful Jen Pattison, a talented artist who I am lucky enough to call a friend. She is the one responsible for creating one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received, so I am ever so slightly biased 😉 I hope you enjoy the interview!
Hi Jenny, please tell us a bit about yourself!
I am a Scottish 2D artist working in illustration, portraiture, game/animation asset art, concept art and comics colouring. I freelance, working remotely with clients all over the world.
How did you get into your profession?
I have a 2 year college qualification in illustration and an honours degree in animation. I contacted a company, Infamous Adventures, online in my final year of art school and started working with them on fan remakes of old Sierra adventure titles but the company decided to go commercial after I’d only been there a few weeks so I stepped into a character design role and we sought crowdfunding through Kickstarter to make our own IP, under the new company name Infamous Quests. I have since worked on another two adventure games with IQ and we have another on the way soon.
How many years have you been doing it?
I have been drawing and painting every day for about the past eight years but I’ve been working in the industry, as a freelancer for about 4.
What does your work mean to you?
I think maybe illustration/work for hire differs from other, more self-driven art disciplines in that you are mostly just producing work to someone else’s specifications, so often the work is more of a craft than self-expression. It does make it all the more special when you get to work on a project that you have a personal passion for, because it’s in an art style you enjoy or it’s for a type of game you would choose to play yourself.
What was the first time you realised that was what you wanted to do?
I come from a family of artists so I always liked the vague idea of being one as a child but when I started playing pc games from Sierra and LucasArts I was so taken with the environments and art styles that I knew then I wanted to work for a company like that. Of course by the time I was old enough to, those companies were either long gone or not making those types of games anymore, but once I had gone through art school there was a small revival underway at least!
What is your proudest moment?
I think finishing every project or commission feels like a bit of a victory but the day we wrapped production on Quest for Infamy and I saw it live on the Steam homepage was a proud moment for me.
What was the first artwork you ever sold?
I actually sold an old painting I did of an eye on the back of a tshirt with fabric paints to one of my best friends. It is harder than you expect to let go of original artwork (I work almost exclusively digitally these days) so I was glad it was going to a good home!
What are your goals for the future? What do you hope to achieve?
I think my goals are pretty generic, really. I already love what I do, I just want to keep improving as an artist, learning new skills, connecting with more peers, and keep a nice steady stream of work coming in!
What was the best advice you were ever given?
When I was just starting out I asked around a lot for advice on my portfolio, and generally on how to go about getting my foot in the door. The best, most practical piece of advice I got was from Adam Duff, a games concept artist working in Canada. He told me to spend time on the parts of an image I was having trouble with and really make the effort to make sense of them, rather than trying to fudge my way through because even if it takes you five hours to get that hand right now, you’ll do it in half the time on your next image!
Any advice for others wanting to get into your field?
There are lots of different ways to approach a career in art, even just within illustration but the most important things are to keep practising all the time and to keep networking/self promoting. When you are working on personal projects for your portfolio, make the kind of art you want to be hired/commissioned for and don’t be shy, get out there and show people, whether it’s on social media, your online portfolio, or at local conventions/shows.
Now for some random questions…
If you were the god/goddess of anything, what would it be?
I’d probably be the goddess of pyjamas and forgetting to hoover!
What would your animal form be?
I have been told repeatedly by one of my more regular clients that I am a tiny hippo, so I guess they’ve answered that question for me!
Do you have any fun quirks?
I can drink a glass of wine using my feet instead of my hands. Maybe my animal should be a monkey instead? haha
Do you collect anything?
When I was a kid I collected stamps for a while, and semi-precious stones. I also had a guitar-badge from almost every Hard Rock Cafe in the world (my dad travelled a lot!). I try to keep clutter to a minimum these days as I have way too much stuff so I don’t collect anything other than too many games in my Steam library.
And finally; time for a shameless plug:
You can check out games I’ve worked on that are available on Steam, GOG and Humble store: Quest for Infamy, Order of the Thorne: The King’s Challenge, and Serena. Or you can find me on twitter: @Estirdalin for news on current/future projects and a lot of art WIPs/general nonsense.