In Discussion With: Izzy - Concept Artist and Art Director
In Discussion With: Izzy - Concept Artist & Art Director.
Yesterday we sat down with Izzy, a Concept Artist & Art Director, to hear all about her career, what it’s like working in animation, the projects she works on and how she got to where she is now. We hope you enjoy hearing all about her exciting career, just as much as we did!
So, let’s start with what it is that you do?
I work in an animation studio as a Concept Artist and Art Director. That basically means I design everything from adverts, short films, commercials and TV pitches. This can include designing props, characters, environments and sometimes storyboarding.
Our studio is a 3D animation studio – we build 3D objects within our software, and part of my role is to do things such as texturing and compositing. Texturing is the painting of 3D objects and compositing is taking all the final images and adding colour grading and effects so that everything comes together for the final image. As an art director, I have to oversee other artists to ensure the art direction is going the right way.
We work with a lot of advertising agencies who work directly with the clients. Normally clients come to us with a style they want, such as a comic book style, but there can often be a bit of back and forth. Previous clients include Disney, Lego, Marvel, Cineworld and we also did Southampton’s Football Kit launch. My favourite was my first project for Dynamo. We made his opening sequence for his tour. I'd only been there for four months and I even got invited along to the show!
What does a typical day look like?
I can go from working on one project to up to five projects in a day. Because everything is so short term in the role, I can be pulled off to do different jobs at different points. At one part of the day I'll be painting something in one style, then I could be taken off to paint something completely different for another client. I dip in and out of different projects each day.
So, what’s your favourite part of your job?
My favourite part is that it's varied. I can get quite restless, even if I think I'm getting to work on my favourite project, I can still sometimes get the urge to want to go and work on something else for a bit. Which, as the role differs each day and we get to work on a number of different projects, is great as it keeps it fresh – I enjoy getting to work on different things.
And what’s the most challenging part?
This may sound a little odd, but the most challenging part is that it's supposed to be my dream job – however, that doesn't mean I enjoy it every single hour.
I get frustrated because sometimes I feel like I'm forcing myself to be happy and grateful for my role, but you can’t always enjoy it. To get past this feeling, I’ve started to go swimming - I'm in a much better mood if I go swimming in the morning! It allows me to approach work with a clearer mindset.
I also enjoy drawing for myself in my spare time because there’s no pressure and I can just enjoy it - art is my way of telling a story. I’ve also recently started writing – I enjoy being able to do something I love, but for myself – it really allows me to shut off.
Tell us what keeps you motivated?
My own core drive to make things motivates me. However, I tend to run away with myself and have a million projects and ideas I want to work on, so things like swimming like I mentioned before helps me to relax and reflect.
Even things like my short film, everyone asks when the next one will be, and I often worry about losing the momentum - so it's also about trying not to over motivate myself and go too fast.
So, tell us how you got here?
I’ve always loved Maths and Arts. Naturally when I was younger, the paths of action were architecture, animation or computer science. When looking at universities, I was initially going for a computer science course, however I was excited about the animation modules within the computer science courses, so I followed my instinct and chose an animation course at Bournemouth university instead.
The course was massively tough. My university was very much a party uni, however my course required me to work 9-5 every day. It was very intense, and I almost quit after the first year, but luckily my mum helped me through it. My mum helped me realise that I wasn't actually awful at it. So, I stuck at it and it paid off - by the end of the course, I came out with one of the highest marks of the year and my film even won an award – I couldn’t believe it.
When I left university, I wanted to focus more on the art side of things, however I didn’t feel that my portfolio was good enough yet, so I prepared myself to go into a different job and focus on art in my spare time. My boyfriend at the time was moving to Manchester so I was looking at potentially moving there, however I was also looking at options in London because a lot of art events and competitions were held here.
A month after university, I entered a competition in London which I became a finalist for and they invited me to an event. My university also attended – but I wasn’t invited with them because they didn’t feel I was good enough to be one of their showcase students. Anyway, at the event, my work was on a show reel and Adam, Co-founder of Blue Zoo (now my boss), happened to walk past just at the moment it was showing.
They offered me the role of a concept artist - my dream job!
If there’s anything I’ve learnt from that, it’s to apply and enter anything you can, go to events and network - because you often don't realise how good you are.
Tell us about Via?
Every 6 months my studio runs an opportunity for anyone to pitch a short film - they send out a brief and you have the opportunity to pitch your ideas. I've pitched three times before, but I’ve never won. This time, I told my boss that I would like to make and direct a film on my own - to which he told me to give it a shot. So, I spent the next eighteen months working on a short film called Via.
I love creating environments, so they are the main focus of the animation. It started off as an idea about a journey and then it elaborated into a man’s life. The key theme is about enjoying the journey of life and the inspiration for it reflects who has inspired me. My favourite illustrator is Shaun Tan, he makes emotive stories and illustrates them with no words, so I took a lot of inspiration from him. I also love films like Interstellar, drawing on these epic environments in my own illustrations – so I also took inspiration from that. If you’re a fan of the film, you’ll notice the house in Via is just like the one in Interstellar.
A lot of the environments also have a similar feel to the artist, Pierre Antoine Moelo - he has also been a key influencer.
Via was released in January and since then it's been at nine festivals, and it's even won at two! It's now eligible for a Bafta which is pretty crazy.
This all sounds so exciting! So, what’s next?
I want to create another film, I've directed one already, but I'd like to direct another in my spare time and make more short films. In the future, I'd like to be a freelance director, I've had a few studios contact me about working across London, Paris and other places. For now, however, I need to keep building my portfolio.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
When I was about to quit my first year of university, it was my mum who encouraged me to stick it out. If I hadn’t have listened to her I would’ve quit, and then I would have never achieved the grades, the experience or even made the new friends that I did.
Even though it was a tough experience, it taught me resilience. I have to remind myself that I’m not always going to be happy, and I won’t be winning awards every day – but keep at it and it’ll pay off!
What advice would you give to a budding concept artist?
In the creative industry, you need to be brave and put yourself out there, no matter how much you doubt yourself. Use social media but use it well. I tell people to post the good and the bad things, show your journey and don't let social media harm you, use it to reflect your work.
Finally, believe in yourself and attend events and enter as many competitions (big and small!). Like I said, I didn't apply for any jobs because I didn't think I was good enough, but you just need to get past that feeling of self-doubt and put yourself out there – because you just don’t know when you’ll get that big break!
Finally, how can anyone contact you?
Feel free to email me at - firstname.lastname@example.org