Surrounded by Artists

Posted Saturday, June 11, 2011, 4:51 PM

It's been three weeks at my new job, and I've gotten into the swing of things a bit better. After a small technical delay I got paid this week, and it's so nice to have real money in my bank account again. I splurged on a visit to Amazon.com, somewhere I haven't purchased from in a whole 18 months! Hurrah! I can catch up on my favourite authors again.

I thought I'd tell you all a little bit about where I work. I can't give too much away, because what we do is not for me to share, but I can say we create and animate digital characters for various different, usually online uses.

There are five other guys in the room where I am, all artists of different kinds. Ben is the main 2D artist. He designs concept art, textures for ZBrush, and other graphics.

Josh is another animator like me. He seems to have been there longest, and is quite talented indeed. I think I'll be learning a lot from him. He has a quiet charisma, like he's the cool kid in class.

Matt is currently working on a video game for mobile phones. He gets somewhat excitable. We work in generally a quiet environment, we're all concentrating so hard on our projects, and that seems to frustrate him a bit, so he finds any excuse to try and liven things up. He brought in a Nerf gun the other day.

John only comes in for a few days a week. He is the Website guy. He seems to do more than just that, but I have no idea what.

Paolo is from Italy, and has only been in Australia a couple of years. He's the video editor and compositor, but he's also an accomplished 2D artist, and does some of the work Ben doesn't have time to do. He has to know a little bit about 3D, to be able to apply the UV textures efficiently, so he's learning that too.

I am a bit of an all rounder. My first week I was animating, my second week I was modelling characters, and this week I did both of those things, plus I composited some sequences in After Effects. These are all my favourite things to do for fun, so it's not really like work at all!

Jayden is the supervisor. But he's also a talented artist, modeller, and rigger. I think he animates as well. He looks after all the projects, and makes sure we're on track and deliver on schedule.

But he's not the Manager. That's "J" who is based in Canberra. He is always out trying to get us work. Next week he'll be in Las Vegas.

So for the first time ever, I am surrounded by incredibly talented artists. They each have their strengths, most of which are at a level way higher than mine, partly because they've been in environments that encouraged their creativity and skills to develop, while I've been in something of a vacuum doing most of what I do at home, alone, with little guidance, insight, or feedback. It's an unusual feeling to be in amongst people who truly are in their element, and can guide me into improving because they know what they're doing.

Another new experience is that I am part of an assembly line. I just do my part, and don't have to deal with the frustrating things I'm not very good at. Somebody else does the conceptual design, then I do the modelling. I export the UVs (using a handy tool I knew nothing about but takes the frustration out of it), somebody else paints and applies the UV textures. Then somebody else does the complicated job of rigging, then I animate. Somebody else does the rendering, using high-end computers looked after by IT professionals, then I composite them - if there are extra elements involved (yesterday I had to blend in digital smoke, for example). It takes all of the frustration out of it, and frees me up to do what I do best and not stress about the other technical details.

Also, this is the first time I have been in a job where I've not been in at the ground level. Every other full time job I've had I've been able to grow and learn as the company did, making it very easy to pick things up, at a pace that suited me. Here I've hit the ground running, learning the way they do things immediately, and having to figure out some stuff that I've not done hardly at all. I've surprised myself by picking things up quickly, because really 80% of what I have to do I do already know quite well, so they've been very accommodating, and all in all I've acquitted myself pretty well.

It's been a fun few weeks, and I don't think I'll tire of it any time soon. I expect some parts will get tedious or complicated and frustrating, but until then I'll make the most of it and bask in the satisfaction of having a decent income again.