I have been a fan of Irene Gallo's thumbnail interview feature for a while, previously of her blog and now of Tor.com . So I have decided to turn the tables and and ask my art director friends to answer some questions.
Two time art director of Magic: The Gathering, WoW TCG, and now Creative Director at Upperdeck Entertainment
1:What education/experience do you feel has best prepared/served you for your job as an Art Director?
As far back as I can remember, I have always loved art. Even today I get really excited by great art. I'm not sure where that came from but this passion has given me the drive to succeed in this industry. However, I knew my passion would only take me so far. It was my college degree in graphic design that allowed me to be taken seriously by corporations and get hired. My degree made me legitimate and opened some of my first doors.
2:What was your first job in the art field?
I was a graphic design intern at TMP Worldwide and I was in charge of the small black and white newspaper ads. My second job was at U.S. West Cellular doing graphic and layout. (I was allowed to choose from two colors: U.S. West PMS dark blue, PMS light blue plus black)
Working as a graphic designer at Wizards of the Coast was my third job. This position was the break I needed that allowed me to break into the gaming industry.
3:What project, that you have worked on, are you most proud of?
It would be the Ravnica preview animation I art directed for Magic: the Gathering. It was the first time we were able to take the world and characters my team designed for the cards and bring it all to life. There were a lot of people who were against it, but I kept pushing and I ended up being really proud of the end product given the time and budget constraints. http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=mtgcom/arcana/897
(Bonus points for anyone who can recognize the actor who did the voice over.)
4: What is your dream job/project?
I'd love to be an art director or concept artist for a large animation company like Pixar.
5:Where do you see yourself in ten years?
I really have no idea. I always try to just live in the moment.
6:On a scale of 1 to 10, how much does an illustrator having a degree matter to you?
Zero. It is all about their talent and the work they produce. However, there are many corporate jobs that will not look at your resume unless you have a degree. H.R. departments live to check boxes.
7:You meet an illustrator at a convention, what do you look for in the person, as well as the portfolio?
I want them to know what my job is as an art director and what sort of work I'm looking for. I want them not to argue with me and most of all, I want to see a portfolio that is amazing and original.
8:How/where do you meet/hire most of the illustrators you work with?
Most of the illustrators I work with have come from referrals. I look at their websites, and if I like what I seem I’ll give them a call.
There are only a few artists I have started working with after seeing their portfolios at Comic Con or their work in Spectrum.
9:If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring Art Directors and/or illustrators what would it be?
Find out what makes you happy and do that. You must also have the trust and patience that doing what makes you happy will lead you where it is suppose too. Also, make sure you try to do the things that you're afraid of but really would like to give a try. I know many people who've gone back to school and started a second career in the middle of their life and ended up in a much better place.
10:What is your favorite cartoon?
I remember LOVING "Scooby Doo", "Tom and Jerry" and all the Warner Brothers stuff as a kid. I think my parents used cartoons as my baby sitter. I also remember really getting into "Star Blazers." I think this was the first Japanese animation I liked. This cartoon came on early in the morning before school around 7 A.M. and I would always wake up to make sure I didn’t miss an episode before catching the bus. One of my other favorites later on was "He-Man, Masters of the Universe.” I would always look forward to watching this cartoon after school right at 4:00 P.M. Isn't it funny that I can still remember the time slots after all these years?