Can you summarize your role and day-to-day responsibilities?
I’m a Senior Art Director in the ILM Art Department. I still do some concept art myself, but a lot of what I do now is supervising other artists. We have multiple projects going at the same time, usually in different visual styles. Our work serves as a reference and visual guide for the production of visual effects shots, as well as the outright design of elements in the film. I usually specialize in doing characters and creatures.
So this was probably a dream job for you?
Yes it certainly was! I moved to California a little over 20 years ago to specifically get a job at ILM. I actually studied animation and experimental filmmaking in college, but around graduation I had decided that what I really wanted was to work here. What I loved to do was draw. The art department was (and still is) a smaller team, but I realized that’s what I wanted to try and join.
How did you end up starting here?
I started as an Art Department Intern in the summer of 1998. I was then hired back as a Production Assistant in 1999. That job involved a lot of administrative support. But now and then they’d throw me a bone to see if I could keep up. Creative Director David Nakabayashi was an Art Director on Star Wars: The Phantom Menace , and he would give me storyboards to do.
How did you graduate into a formal artistic role?
After The Phantom Menace, David moved onto A.I. Artificial Intelligence , and he invited me to become a Junior Concept Artist on the project. That was my first show.
What kind of lessons did you learn early on?
One specific thing I learned from multiple people was how to solve aesthetic problems within deadlines. You have to find a solution that is faithful to the film’s style and genre, but you can’t hold up the rest of the team. You might like to spend lots of time making something look perfect, but the art has a purpose beyond itself. The goal is to get the visual effects shots completed, so how do you solve things on time?