1. At what point in your life did you realise this was the career choice you wanted to make? Had you always known or had you taken different career paths previously?
A1. I first got into computer game animation in 1990 after just leaving school at 16 and started Codemasters but I didn’t follow graphic design, animation and illustration until I was around 23 years of age and studied a HND.
2. Did you work for previous studios before starting as a Freelance Artist, and what struggles/obstacles did you have to overcome to get to where you are today?
A2. I worked for Codemasters and various Belfast graphic design studios but did really get to use my full potential until I started freelancing. My main struggles was starting a business from nothing and banging on doors and phoning people to build up a customer base.
3. What is your work process, do you begin with sketches on paper, or go straight to digital? What tablet do you prefer to use?
A3. I now have adopted a method of, if there is a good budget I’ll sketch from paper then move onto digital but for more tighter budgets and deadlines I just use my WACOM straight on the screen and work to the budgeted time. Oh and it has to be a WACOM Intuios!
4. In the beginning, did you struggle with pricing your work and time? Do you have any advice on this subject?
A4. Yes I did struggle but I have a builder friend and he give me great advice which is ‘Find a hourly rate and charge per hour’ – NO MATE RATES!
5. Your storyboards are beautiful, particularly those for ‘In the Darkest Hour’, what were the obstacles of working alongside a director, if any?
A5. Well I’ve acted on stage before and been in front of the camera in short films so I understand the set ups of film. When I was younger I used to get upset and annoyed with clients changes but that’s the nature of the game. Now I Just send quick rough visuals in short bursts and as client signs off then finish each storyboard. It’s all timed say from 1hour per board or 15 minutes depending on budget as i’m working on another 25 boards for ‘The Darkest Hour’ and I have to work to a budget and deadline which pays the bills.
6. I have seen that you have worked on books and ebooks, this is something i am very interested in. What kind of advice would you give to successfully receive work such as this?
A6. Bill everything and if you have to do the inside pages make sure it’s a small book and charge for major reworks as client’s think reworking 10-20 pages again with new copy is just a few clicks away. If you enjoy book design then focus on cover design but don’t really take on inside book design unless it’s children’s books where text flows like an art picture and smaller and less demanding. I have worked on books over 100 pagers before doing the inside formatting and it never pays.
7. What would be the best advice you could give to a young artist, starting out and wanting to become known in the industry as a profesional and trusted worker?
A7. Get a part-time job anywhere to help fund you at the start then build up a style and get a website. find clients and charge your worth and don’t do stuff for nothing. Treat every job as more money in your pocket, do your invoices and hold onto money for end of year tax bill. (That’s the boring bit!)