a-list / hannah :: 3d animator :: bne
I’d always been involved in art as a hobby, but when I was a teenager I learnt to “mod”( modify the content of ) video games like the Sims. Finding out that I could incorporate my own artistry into a commercial product made me see that I could have a career in design.
How creative were you as a youngster?
Let’s just say there were more sketches in my maths grid-book than sums.
Do you come from a creative family? Were they supportive of your desire to be a designer?
Both my parents were craftspeople, involved with carpentry, lead-lighting and weaving. They always encouraged my artistic side, but insisted I didn’t follow the penniless artist route they had in the 70s.
The first move...
What sort of education and training have you had?
Apart from extensive extra-curricular art classes and majoring in Visual Arts in high school, I’ve completed a Diploma of Screen and Media, specialising in Animation.
Who did you want to work for when you first entered the industry?
I’ve always loved the artwork in Lionhead’s Fable game series and I was privileged to work with their sister company Rare in the UK. It’s rare to see a major games company push back against current trends to create something new, and Lionhead do just that.
Tell us about your first project and what do you feel about it now?
When THQ Studio Oz took me on as a junior they were just starting the Last Airbender series with Nickolodeon. Looking back I realise I was thrown in at the deep end, which was a great learning experience. I was very young when I started(19) and I had to grown up and develop a professional attitude to my work very quickly.
What is your preferred software to work with and what has been the greatest advancement in technology over the past 5 years?
For 3D modelling I always use Maya, now that they’ve incorporated the low-polygon modelling tools from 3DsMax. The motion-sensitive console Xbox Kinect has really opened up the possibilities for new methods of interacting with digital space, from the user’s end. It was amazing working with Rare Ltd(a Microsoft owned company) on the Kinect and seeing what it was capable of in tracking human movement.
What are the various mediums that you’ve worked with, and are there any that you would like to explore?
Although I work mainly in digital painting and sculpting for my work, I would like to make time to do more sculpting with polymer clay. It’s a great material to work with and presents some exciting new challenges.
Is digital technology going to eliminate the need for print?
I don’t think that digital images will ever really replace physical mediums because they still lack the tactile dimension of physical art-forms.
We could be heroes...
Whose work do you really admire and why?
James Jean is a Taiwanese-American artist who has been the cover artist for the Fables graphic novel series for years. He brings a very painterly, symbolic and surreal feeling to the covers, tapping into the old Grimm fairytale heart of the stories to make them artworks in their own right.
Who has been the greatest person that you’ve ever had the pleasure of working with and what have they taught you?
That’s a difficult one. There have been so many amazing people I’ve had the chance to work with for many reasons. Some people are there to produce incredible artwork but others create the drive and enthusiasm which holds a team together and pushes them to achieve great things.
What has been your greatest achievement so far?
Being the main character artist for a major movie tie-in game was a great responsibility and learning curve for me. The experience taught me a great deal and allowed me to own a large part of that game and have a certain amount of creative control.
All about me…
How would you describe your work?
I work in a lot of different mediums, from digital to traditional, but a theme which runs through all my artwork is achieving a balance between stylizing and capturing a natural likeness. I believe that the great strength of artwork is being able to present a ‘hyper-real’ version of the world, capturing the essence of a scene and the human experience of it.
What are your plans for the future?
I’d like to push myself to master some new skills and take my artwork to the next level. Continually learning new techniques and mastering new mediums is what keeps my job fun.
What sort of company would you like to work with next?
It’s my experience that the smaller and younger a company is the more enthusiasm and personal ownership the team feels. I’d like to be involved with a company that still has that drive to push the envelope and a sense of fun.
What is your opinion of Australian design?
It’s criminally under-rated in the rest of the world. We have some amazing designers here, especially in areas like the fashion industry, who are trying things that aren’t seen anywhere in Europe or America. We benefit from our proximity to Asia and that influence gives Australian design a unique flavour.
What is the best/worst thing about being a designer in Australia?
The isolation from the rest of the world can be a blessing and a curse. It allows artists here to be very original and not follow typical design trends, but it also can make us feel less connected with the international design market.
In your opinion, what is the greatest challenge the Australian design industry has to face in the near future?
Our strong Australian dollar is coming at a high price, with American companies choosing to outsource labour to parts of Asia rather than here to save on salary costs.
Just for fun...
What is your creative outlet outside of design?
I enjoy getting outdoors and doing individual sports like rock-climbing and yoga. It’s a time for me to use my body instead of my mind. If it’s raining I crochet amigarumi toys.
What is the best designed bar in Brisbane?
The Press Club in Fortitude Valley has one of the most original, cohesive designs I’ve seen. The amazing, surreal lamps hang like alien insects above the bar, and yet the place feels very natural and intimate, like a Moroccan tavern.
What are your top 5 websites at the moment?
SBS - Luke Nguyen’s Vietnam Never doubt that cooking is an artistic pursuit.
Concept Art An absolute repository of talent and inspiration
CG Society of Digital Artists Where the best and the brightest in digital art show off and offer tips
Flickr Amazing photographic inspiration
Wetanz Creative people and how they got there
What CD are you currently listening to and is it any good?
Tex Perkins and the Dark Horses. Smokey bar-room jazz and blues is always a favourite of mine, and this is a very slick and pared-back album.
If I was a font, I’d be…?
Impact - simple, dire