Bruce Brenneise is a freelance concept artist/illustrator who currently resides in Seattle, Washington. Bruce has traveled and studied extensively in East Asia. Some of the projects that he has worked on include the official Gabriel Knight: Temptation comic as well as Phoenix Online Studios' The Silver Lining.
What is your background as an artist? What educational experience/background did you have coming into CGMA? Do you have professional experience?
Well, aside from the usual stories of growing up interested in drawing, I received a BFA degree from the University of Michigan in 2005. The program there was mostly focused on contemporary art, but they did have a scientific illustration program at the time which provided some training in professional technique and figurative foundational art skills. I spent the six years following graduation living, working, and traveling in east Asia. While I did some sketching and painting at that time, I was focused more on my writing then. More recently I moved back to the States, decided to focus on my art career, and I've been doing freelance entertainment art--a variety of game environments, comic, poster and book illustrations for various clients.
Why did you decide to take CGMA classes?
My university education left out quite a few subjects that any current entertainment artist/illustrator would find crucial, so I figured it was time to get back to it, learn more about the field I wanted to enter, and fill in any missing or underdeveloped areas of my skill set.
What classes did you take and why did you choose them?
Intro to perspective and the analytical figure drawing classes (brushing up on skills that need constant practice and affect every aspect of concept art), Environment Design 1 (for more knowledge about current thinking in a field that I would prefer to work in), and Architecture Design (to expand my knowledge pertaining to one of the more complex aspects of environment design).
How did taking classes help you refine your craft and help you along your artistic journey?
Well, they certainly provide a wealth of knowledge! More importantly, though, are the problem-solving processes that the instructors have shared with us. I think we all know that art related information is easy enough to come by with internet access and books, but learning methods of problem-solving, practicing those, and getting feedback provides a level of both self-analysis and self-confidence that is priceless.
What was your first big gig and how did you get it?
Well, funnily enough, I got my first big gig through a contact I made while I was still teaching ESL (English as a Second Language). One of my foreign students knew of my familiarity with his culture and ended up hooking me up with a job designing and illustrating the marketing materials for the related film festival in my city. It was a great success, and has led to other jobs; I guess I can say that you never know what opportunities your other (non-artistic) jobs and experiences will give you, but definitely don't discount them!
Why would you recommend CGMA to another artist?
Learning from artistic professionals who work in a highly competitive artistic industry, period. Many of the brick and mortar art schools just don't seem to understand the importance of that, despite asking sky-high tuition from their students. So, this is great value for money! My advice, actually would be to combine taking classes at CGMA with joining local life drawing or plein air sketching groups to get the best benefit of digital and out-in-the-world education.
Why is having professional feedback important to you?
Professionals have seen most all of these mistakes that students make hundreds or thousands of times before. They've made those mistakes themselves, and they've obviously solved those problems or they wouldn't have a successful career. Their advice can save a lot of time, heartache, and indecision for a student. As mentioned above, it provides confidence and helps with the ability to usefully criticize one's own work.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Cheers to all the other artists struggling to improve at great personal cost of time, effort, and mental anguish. Feel free to look me up and say hey on social media: this artistic journey can be lonely if you don't reach out to other artists along the way!
We would like to thank Bruce for sitting down with us and sharing his CGMA experience. To see more of Bruce's artwork you can visit his website at bbrenneise.wix.com/works