What is your background as an artist? What educational experience/background did you have coming into CGMA? Do you have professional experience?
Like many concept artists I have been drawing for pretty much as long as I remember, London is home to a good selection of art schools and instructors so I’ve attended lots of classes and workshops over the years. I made a very serious effort to get better when I attended The Art Department (TAD for short), and I studied with that school in an online format for two years. I hadn’t had any professional experience ahead of studying with CGMA but I’m happy to say that since starting classes with CGMA I’ve started work as a professional concept artist and I’ve been doing that for nearly two years now.
Why did you decide to take CGMA classes?
After attending TAD I felt like I needed more instruction in order to transfer the foundations I had learned with that school into a professional context, i.e get a bit more experience working on realistic assignments and find out how the pros actually carry out their work. The ability to take individual classes at my own pace also meant that I could still study while maintaining a better work/life balance.
What classes did you take and why did you choose them?
My first was the Art of Color and Light with Tyler Carter, I have long admired the beautiful artwork that gets produced for animations but was still unsure of the foundations that go into creating that artwork. So it was a mix of feeling that it was something I needed to study along with really admiring the work that was coming out of the students and the instructors. The second was the Character Design for Film class with Bjorn Hurri, character design is probably the discipline of concept art that I am drawn to most and so it made sense to pick this next.
How did taking classes help you refine your craft and help you along your artistic journey?
Tyler Carter’s class was very well structured and he presented the foundations in a concise way that was easy to grasp. The assignments were very well thought out and by the end of it I felt like I had a definite understanding of the concepts: something I didn’t start with. Bjorn Hurri’s class was great in that it laid out a very clear process for designing a character, from the initial research to the final orthographic, and if I were to design a character for a client professionally I would most certainly refer back to the step by step Bjorn presented in this class.
What was your first big gig and how did you get it?
My first big gig was getting a job as an in house concept artist at Double Negative: a VFX house in London. I’d actually worked at the company for several years but more on the post production side of things, after studying I had enough material to put a portfolio together and I submitted it to the lead art director on the suggestion of someone at our lunchtime drawing group. I was pleasantly surprised when I learned that I would be transferring to the department in the new year!
Why would you recommend CGMA to another artist?
Absolutely, CGMA is a very slickly run operation. Starting classes was easy thanks to the supportive administration staff and the interface (for submitting work and taking classes) is well designed and easy to use. The calibre of instructors is great as well, Tyler and Bjorn were great teachers and the assignments and courses were very well structured. I think CGMA offers a great return on time invested, and if you’re already working full time or have a family to take care of that’s a huge plus.
Why is having professional feedback important to you?
It’s all very well posting your work on facebook and having your mum and your friends say it’s brilliant, that’s all very well but the truth is that most art directors and concept artists are going to be far more visually literate and critical than most others you show your work to. It’s important to get professional feedback because that is exactly the feedback you will get when you start work professionally, and that is the surely the ultimate goal of taking classes. The other reason is time, a professional can express succinctly the exact things you need to do to improve your work, if you want to improve as quickly as possible, there is really no substitute.
What was your inspiration to creating a specific character?
The character I submitted for the character design class was inspired by a few things, I’m always looking for unusual shapes and silhouettes first and foremost so I took some cues from Japanese fashion designers who do quite daring things along these lines. I also took a lot of inspiration from tribal and folk costume, I’ve collected several books on the subject over the years and the variety and imagination you can see in costume from around the world is astounding.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I think it’s great to develop your own personal voice, search out things that inspire you and try and incorporate them into your work, anything weird or wonderful that you are interesting in is going to help to distinguish you from other artists which can only be a good thing.In my experience improvement is achieved by lots of small steps rather than just one big one. Small consistent effort is the key with art, while the thought of making a huge leap in ability is quite seductive in reality the key is piecing the puzzle together slowly over months and years, other than that I don’t really have much to say other than keep at it and enjoy the journey!
We would like to thank Peter for sitting down with us and sharing the CGMA experience. To see more of Peter's artwork please see www.peterocampo.com