The ILM art department manager on the benefits of being wrong
What does it take to become a pro concept artist?
Concept artists are designing for films, games or their preferred medium. They’re interested in them because they’re better versions of their own realities or places they can only dream of being. When creating concepts, don’t get too caught up in what’s ‘right’. Focus on what’s right for the project. Maybe the right thing for a project is to go down a path you don’t necessarily like, just to know you have gone the wrong direction – that might be what your director needs. Concept art is about being a collaborator. Sometimes you’ll be thrilled, sometimes dismayed. It’s how you deal with those situations that will make you a true pro.
Which software and tools should be prioritised?
Most of the ILM art department’s concept artists work in 3D in some form. While you don’t want the tools to bog down your design, what you’re creating will likely be built by someone else in production. Everyone at ILM has a core speciality, but can also branch out into different areas. Being flexible is very beneficial.
Do you have any good tips for finding inspiration?
Talk to people about your ideas, get feedback. Sometimes walking away from what you’re doing, giving yourself a moment, can get ideas flowing again. I’m impressed every day by the amazing things people do under tight deadlines. Many of our team do personal work. A great teacher once said, ‘If you don’t live a life, after a while you’re just an empty shell repeating the same thing over and over again’.