Thursday, April 18, 2013
I was recently given the opportunity to have my first interview this week, conducted by aspiring journalist and writer Moni Jay. And here it is. Enjoy.
Interview with Freelance Concept Artist, Clayton Barton
1. How did you get started as a concept artist? Share a little bit about yourself?
Concept art was something I fell into because I liked to draw. I figured if I want to draw and I want to paint I could get into illustration for books and games. Originally I wanted to do art for comic books, but the demand for artists in the comic industry has declined in the last few years, so instead I worked hard on improving my skills and concentrated on my own artwork.
2. What are the challenges that an artist would normally face when starting a freelance career, and how did you overcome them?
When starting out, there are a lot of freelance artists who may become discouraged, generally because they don’t know what to expect. A lot of freelance artists will often do work for companies literally for nothing for the opportunity of getting their name and artwork out there. But after a while you’ll say to yourself, ‘hey I should be getting paid for the effort I put into this project, even if the project is never released.’ So eventually I started writing my own contracts, which is something a lot of professional freelance artists do.
3. There is a lot of advice on concept art forums about what a successful portfolio looks like. What would be an ideal portfolio if you were in a position to review someone else’s work?
Your portfolio shows off your skill and shows that you can work with a variety of styles. A client may ask for something more stylized or they may want something more simplified, or maybe even something more realistic depending on the project. The artist has to be prepared for anything, especially a freelance artist because they have to get work wherever they can and on many different projects in different industries.
4. The life of an aspiring artist is a relentless learning process. Artists inspire each other all the time on online communities such as Deviant Art and concept.org. Outside of online sites, where else would a young artist be looking for inspiration?
There are a lot of art courses and tutors that can teach and inspire young artists. But my best suggestion would be Gaming conventions, or any kind of art convention, whether its Comicon or BlizzCon, and there are often open seminars that are held where an aspiring artist can learn and be inspired by other artists. Conventions are a good source of information and networking in the industry.
5. Now with huge blockbuster games in production what is the competition like in the concept art industry at the moment?
There is always competition in any industry. There are big-name artists out there with excellent skill who constantly get work. If your new to industry it can sometimes be hard for you to break through, but at the same time there are smaller companies who provide opportunities for young freelance artists.
6. The concept art industry is forever changing. How important is the concept artist’s role in the future?
A concept artist’s artwork often determines the overall design and look of a game, a movie or a character. They can determine the environment, and how the characters look in that environment. As the artist you are creating an entire world from your imagination.
7. How would you see 3D art evolving in the next five to ten years?
Artists will always be needed in the industry, but that doesn’t mean the methods and the tools in which they use won’t change. Programs like ZBrush, 3DSMax and other programs that produce digital media provide new methods of design, and are becoming more popular and more effective in the industry.
8. You have been a freelance concept artist for a few years now. What was it that made you decide to be a teacher, and how would you manage both.
What I like about teaching is I see how my knowledge can help other people. When I acquired a certain skill, naturally I wanted to share my knowledge with aspiring artists, so when I was offered the opportunity I immediately took it. They work hand-in-hand and I will often draw and paint in my classes and students would learn from the outcome of the artwork, so it was easy for me to balance art and tutoring.
9. On November 13, 2012, THQ reported that they had defaulted on a $50 million loan from Wells Fargo. One month after the company filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy, all THQ's properties were auctioned off individually. It was estimated that over 1.09 thousand employees subsequently lost their jobs. How hard will it be now for artists to get a job when up against so many professionals all vying for work in the same industry?
Many employees would have possibly gone into teaching and tutoring, some may have acquired work in other companies. An optimistic way of looking at that situation is a large company can break down into many smaller companies, and this actually provides more jobs and opportunities for artists wanting to get experience in the industry.
10. After working on projects such as the iphone game ‘Speed Blazers’ and a full 3-D simulation game for Occupational Health and Safety in the workplace, what does the future hold for you?
After working on various projects, I would see them all as a beginning of something larger. I look at all projects as a learning experience to prepare me for the future. The Occupational Health and Safety game was one of the first projects I worked on with a team of other artists. I met challenges I had to overcome, such as working to a schedule and working in a team environment. Speed Blazers was the first iphone game I worked on, and during its development I felt I was a part of the company and that company’s future.
11. If you had to go back in time and tell the young Clayton Barton two important things, when he was first getting started, what would they be?
Don’t be a hermit. Remember the other important things in life like friends and relationships. You can hide away in a basement drawing and painting all day, and have no life outside your work, but networking and communication is important. An artist’s inspiration is acquired by seeing the world.
12. If you had a message to share with other talented artists, what would it be?
Be dedicated to yourself and your work, especially if you’re an aspiring artist. The more time and effort you put into developing your skill the better you’ll get, and the better you are the more you’ll want to do it.
Thank you very much Clayton for your time, and now I ask at the end of our interview where can people go to find out more about your work?
My email is, firstname.lastname@example.org and blog is, claytonbartonartBlogspot.com.au.