The ex-mechanical engineer talks about his lucky break
How did you go from mechanical engineer to concept artist?
I’d been drawing all my life. But I never really thought I’d get good enough, so I didn’t work at it professionally. I studied engineering at college, and persevered with that for a couple of years. But I realised I wasn’t really happy, and felt like I could give the art thing at least a good try. When my girlfriend and I planned to move to Canada on a working holiday, I thought I may as well go for it. So after we moved here, I spent two months working on my portfolio, trying to get it up to concept art quality. I had no job, so I spent eight hours painting, every day. It was a bit of a grind.
And then you got in touch with North Front Studios?
Yeah, and I asked if they were thinking of hiring anybody in a junior position. I spoke with the guys, we got on really well, and they made me an offer to come here on a threemonth contract, just to see how we got on. And it’s been absolutely brilliant. I’ve been really lucky.
What work have you been doing?
When I was building my portfolio I thought I was more inclined to character design and character art. But since I’ve come here, I’ve had the chance to do more keyframe illustration as well as technology design, vehicle design… things like that. And I’ve grown to love it. I’ve been using MODO, Photoshop and little bit of DAZ Studio. It’s been a great chance to combine all those programs and learn all about that kind of workflow.
How have you found life in Canada?
I know it’s a bit of a stereotype, but everyone here’s so polite. People on the street will just come up and start talking to you. It’s very different from back home in Ireland. And the infrastructure is a lot better: the transport system makes it so easy to get to and from work.
Who inspires you?
Over the past five or six years I’ve been following the work of a lot of concept artists online. I never really thought I would come into this fulltime, but I guess I must have always thought at the back of my mind, “One day I’m actually going to give this a go”. So I followed people like Anthony Jones, who are really open about what they do and how they’re developing their techniques. Since working here at North Front, of course, I’ve felt incredibly inspired by Tim and Ryan, and started producing my best art.