Wow, it’s been a while since I updated this thing. As I am often wont to do, let’s return with a big bang (which is a good show).
I recently moved from my wonderful Chinese town of Yangshuo back to the States! I’m now living in Santa Monica, which for those of you who are geographically challenged, is an iconic city on the coast of the Los Angeles area, just west of Hollywood and the Fresh Prince of Bel Air.
I moved here to take my career to the next level. As a contract concept artist and illustrator for the entertainment industries, the LA area is where all the action is. My illustration career was going okay in China, but it wasn’t taking me in the right direction – games. Also, it forced me to be in this bubble. No real networking, no peers, no classes to drop in on, no events or parties full of colleagues, no conventions, and the list goes on. I find that location is very key in finding work in this industry, and improving. It isn’t necessary by any means to live in a place like LA, but it does make things easier. No amount of browsing the web and telecommuting can replace the random opportunities that come from being in a place where over 125 game development studios call home.
For example, just today I had lunch with Katon Calloway, a Senior Character Artist at Sony’s Santa Monica Studios – he’s the guy that brought you a lot of the monsters and such from “The God of War III”. His 3D work is mind-blowing.
And through chance and networking, I got to talk with him for a couple of hours, pick his brain, get advice, show my portfolio, and he was kind enough to take my portfolio and resume back to his office to give his office’s recruiter! I mean, that would never have happened to me in China. Nor would being able to have a landlord who is an accomplished actress and director (Jill Jaress), whose son is a producer at Gazillion Games.
So I’m pretty pleased at my decision to come here, though it does have me temporarily separated from my long-term girlfriend and our dog. I’m here to get a job, and since the economy seems to finally be picking up, things are looking more hopeful. Freelance work is coming in, I’ve gotten the chance to go to CTN-Expo (Animation Expo in Burbank) where I got to talk and network with a lot of concept artists, such as the guys from Section Studios. I’ve had lunch with a producer from Neversoft/Activision (Modern Warfare), who introduced me to a producer at Zynga. Lots of key advice and help from them. Lunch today with an amazing senior artist. I absolutely loved China, and miss it very much – but if a career is what I’m looking for, then LA will beat dumplings and incense-stained temples every time.
Well, that’s enough time I that I have to waste today, ha. Time to get back to making environments and assets for a new client (mobile developer).