Hi Jeremy and welcome to the world of 3DTotal! By the sounds of it you've had quite an interesting artistic career so far – from signwriter to concept artist in ten years! Could you tell us a bit more about this journey and your experiences along the way?
Wow, sign writing seems like so long ago now... but it turns out that it gave me a solid, traditional art foundation. I actually wanted to be a book illustrator from an early age. I was a fan of the "choose your own adventure” books and loved the cover art. Artists like Boris Vallejo and Frank Frazetta inspired me too. I could draw okay in school, but mostly failed in art as I lacked the discipline to follow instructions. I did, however, enjoy technical drawing and finished the subject with a distinction, so my father took me to a local architect firm. Up until that point, I was under the impression that the job was all about designing fancy buildings, but instead I was shown plans for toilet cubicles and concrete foundations. I wanted to do something a little more artistic so I set my sights on becoming a graphic artist. My first job was doing bromide paste ups and learning CAD graphics software.
I then went to work for a small company where I designed surf t-shirts and logos. After a while the boss introduced me to the airbrush and asked me to paint a robotic dragon on a shop sign. I ended up specializing in airbrushing and painted on pretty much everything. It turned out to be great learning curve as it taught me the discipline I needed. I had to work within tight deadlines and deal with difficult clients, plus if I made a mistake I pretty much had to start again. There's no undo when you make a mistake on a big bloke's bike tank so I learnt to be careful and think ahead. It's an interesting profession as it taught me to be a jack of all trades. I had to design, construct, paint and install the signage.
I ended up helping run a sign shop in Noosa, which was great, but I spent most of my time airbrushing waves, sharks and dolphins on every truck, boat and shop imaginable. One of the strangest experiences was having a rotten avocado thrown at my head while installing a huge artist's impression for a new high-rise development in Mooloolaba.
I remember thinking, "Surely my art isn't that bad?” although, I don't blame them as there used to be a good pub there.
Sign writing took me all over the world and I got to work on some great projects. I think the best job I got to work on was doing the vehicles for Chateau Elan, in Saint Andrew's Bay, where they put us up for two nights with an open tab and free golf. Anyway, while doing my day job, I was also freelancing for a production house doing graphics and animations for commercials and documentaries. This is where I found out about LightWave 3D. I was keen to make a change in career as the constant fumes from airbrushing had made me very ill.
It's interesting because in my experience, LightWave is one of the lesser-used software packages and doesn't quite have the same prominence as 3ds Max or Maya in today's industry – was it a conscious choice for you to use it, or was it just a case of LightWave being the first 3D software you stumbled across?
LightWave seems to have taken a back seat in games development especially. Although at the time it was used extensively in TV broadcast production. The production house I was working for had a copy of LightWave v5 so I gave it a go. If an advert
needed a flying logo or spinning object, I would just learn enough to do that. Eventually an animated character was needed and I was hooked from there. I really enjoyed doing everything from storyboarding to directing. I think I stopped using it at about v6.5
I was sorry to hear about the closure of the Australian arm of THQ last year – you were working there as a senior concept artist at the time, right? How did it come about? And what are you up to now?
Yeah, I'd been working at THQ for about a year when it closed. It was a shame to say goodbye to a great studio and all that work for sure. We were a year into production and the team was really happy to have created something that looked and played really well. We were all excited to be part of such a cool title and were close to alpha so it came as a shock. THQ Corp. and the client were pleased with what we were doing, but ultimately I think it was down to the Australian dollar. It's just not as viable for overseas publishers to invest here anymore given the current financial climate. There were no doubt other factors behind it, but that's just the way of the industry and it's not the first time I've experienced a studio closure. Some of my colleagues had been through the same situation four of five times before.
After THQ closed I built a small studio in the back yard which I worked in for about a year doing freelance. The variety of work was great and I got to work on some cool projects including 007 Legends and Sacred 3 which are both coming out soon I think. During this time I also did some pitch work for SEGA Studios Australia. The project got green lit and they offered me a full time gig, so that's where I am today. It's a small team of talented artists so I'm enjoying it. Being my own boss definitely had its advantages but there's nothing like being part of a team.