Monday, April 8, 2013

Work that died (but lessons not forgotten)

So sometimes you hope a project finds it's feet.  Sometimes you just want it to end...put out of it's misery.  This project was both.  I did work with Atari for a quick turnaround.  I loved all the folks I worked with but there were a lot of hands, no real time to commit, and funding was spotty at best.  I came on to do final illustrations of already finished designs.  Unfortunately they hired me too soon as most of the assets and design decisions had not been reached yet.  So much of this is testing the waters and seeing what was working.  Literally some of the characters were silhouette outlines and I was to make up the rest but adhere to an aesthetic that wasn't designed yet for the game.  I really liked the folks and love the property so I was hoping.  But here's the work that will never be. This was over 2 years old but thought it would be fun to share and explain some of the small lessons I learned out of it.

Lessons I learned and some artwork in between:

1.  Stop working and talk if the job changes drastically. 

Both parties need to be aware
     Sometimes its on purpose, but mostly production just gets fouled up.  That's why I usually go hourly because if scope, ideas, personnel, etc, change or just go out the door it doesn't matter.  You're getting paid to help fix problems and make the best decisions given the information you have.  If you are going by project, be clear and precise on what you will give them.  Both parties should know the expectations of each other.  That way, you're both happy in the end. 

2.  Stay positive even when it all points the opposite way.

It's what saves me time and time again.
Attitude reflects in your art, your life, your appearance and how that energy and life comes back to you from others.  Be the person people want to go back to, work with.  Trust me.  Find your way to cope and deal.  We all have bad days, just don't make a month out of it.

3.  A good Art director instills confidence

   This one really struck a chord with me.  There's something to learn with every great experience but even more is learned through failings and struggles.  I plan on being an art director one day.  Or production designer and I learned that instilling confidence and knowledge to your team is essential.  If they know what you want, have a plan of attack, or really trust that artist to give them something special it will shine through the entire project.  Each artist already has a narcissistic self loathing confidence issue already.  The person above them leads by example.  Negativity, timidity, and lack of speaking all effect the artist.  Atari was good, no problems on any major front but this job made me evaluate what I thought made all the good art directors I worked with before.

4.  Appreciate the real networking that happens

I love the real and dislike the fake.  I determined long ago that I would never make my career going to parties, pretending to laugh, and kissing some tail. I would make it through sheer determination, sweat, personality, talent, and deserving IF it was deserved.  I just don't have that personality to fake it.  I like my wife with less make up, friends who are honest, and real conversations.  I got this job based off the work I did for Wizards of the Coast and the art director jon schindehette.  I tried to give him the best of me and I know he remembered that and when a video game came calling, he offered me up.  This was the first year I decided to go full freelance and I was just starting out.  Jon really helped in more ways then one.  I truly hope we can find another project to have a go at.  Also, there are lots of personalities, but I have learned to keep the truest people, good people on my proverbial speed dial.  (FYI:  If I tweet, instgram or facebook another artist I am endorsing them as people usually more importantly then their art)  I feel very strongly about who people really are.  Especially now that there are SO MANY good artists that difference I make out is who people really are.  I have no patience or time for mean.  Even in the UFC I root for the cool guy better attitude.  I'll have another post on how the UFC and being an artist can be similar.

Well, I turned a blog post into a journal...sorry bout that.  Me rambling as I await feedback from Disney ;)

I wish all the people who got laid off from this project a quick recovery to a new job or reinvigorated to start a new path they've always wanted to tread.



betty_draws said...

Thanks for kind words and useful advice :) As I'm starting my freelance adventures it means a lot to me!

Mark Fullerton said...

Good post. All useful advice. I was an art director in the advertising world for 15 years before going rogue and illustrating. Communication has always been the key. A good art director will give you some freedom to do what you do best. It sounds as though this project was a tough one from the get go--though very kewl. Too bad they didn't let you start the characters from scratch.

Unknown said...

Betty, good luck on your path!

Unknown said...


good to hear. I agree. This project was tough for all of them as well. When I know that everyone's in the trenches so to speak it makes it easier to try and get it done. I think was just timing and Atari's issues. None of the teams issues. Oh well. Always something though. Thanks for the words.