3DTotal : Hi Tim, thanks for taking the time out to talk to us, can you begin by giving us a little introduction to yourself? Tim : Hi, well I live and work in Toronto and I am a matte/concept artist. I've been married for 6 years and am the proud father of a ridiculously cute 6 month old baby boy. This past year I worked on “The Number 23”, “Babel”, “Stranger Than Fiction”, and “Silent Hill”. Currently I'm working on “Spring Break In Bosnia” and “Hair Spray”. It's been a pretty busy year both on the home front and career wise.
3DTotal : Sounds great, before this have you worked on projects for different sectors of the industry such as games? Tim : Yes before this I worked for another visual effects company and before that I spent a year at a mobile game studio. And what seems like a whole lifetime ago I worked as a graphic designer and illustrator. And if you go way back I was a chicken cook at a certain fried chicken restaurant. I pray that I never need to do it again!
3DTotal : Can you tell us how you started out, did you go to art college? Tim : Yes I started out in graphic design, I went to St. Lawrence college in Cornwall Ontario and whilst I was there I became more interested in illustration rather than graphic design. After this I moved to Montreal and went to Dawson college to follow the illustration program there. When I got out of college I wanted to work as an illustrator but I found it difficult to find a full time job. It tends to be more of a freelance profession and it can be a tough market to break into straight out of school. I found myself doing more and more graphic design work to pay the bills even though that wasn't where my heart was.
3DTotal : Why is that? Is it because there are so many others trying to do it? Tim : No it’s not that there are so many others trying to do it,
it just takes a while for you to build up a name for yourself and unless you have some savings it’s very hard at first. I went through a couple of years that were pretty ‘lean’ times, so I ended up relying more on graphic design jobs in studios rather than illustration work. It was a small market in Montreal at the time and as I didn’t speak French, it was an even smaller market.
3DTotal : So it sounds like trying to establish contacts is one of the main starting out problems? Tim :Yes, at that time the Internet was just starting to become mainstream so there were not sites like CGChannel, CG Society, mattepainting.org etc so this easy way of getting noticed did not exist so we had to send out mail shots and advertise ourselves in creative source books which was really expensive.
3DTotal : Well times certainly have changed for the young student artist’s today. Tim : Yes It’s amazing how the industry has transformed, anyone can now put their artwork online for free and if it is good you will get much more exposure that one of those $1200 page book adverts generated.
3DTotal : So how did your career lead you into matte painting? Tim : Growing up I loved movies, especially visual
effects movies. The artistry and magic that went into creating these wonderful stories was so inspiring. I thought it would be so cool to be part of that but I kind of put it on the same level as being a rock star, more of a dream then a realistic career aspiration. In college I received an education in traditional painting and towards the end of my education I was introduced to illustrator and Photoshop. I used Photoshop a lot as a photo manipulation tool but never for painting. My teachers and others around me were starting to paint digitally but the results were less than inspiring. I think there was also a little artistic snobbery holding me back. I think I fancied myself a purist. About 6 years ago I moved to a design firm in Oakville. The creative director there, Dan Wheaton, who is a good buddy of mine now said, “you should give digital painting a try” and I replied, “well I don’t think it is there yet”. He started to show me some stuff and introduced me to work from guys such as Craig Mullins and Ryan Church and I was completely blown away. At the time just couldn’t believe what I was seeing was painted digitally. It was Mullins' work in particular that really made up my mind that I wanted to pursue matte painting.