This is a bit of an expanded excerpt from a recent magazine interview:
My whole art life in a nutshell:
I grew up in a creative house, filled with crafts and fixing cars and interior design and building ponds and all kinds of cool shit. I was a lucky kid and was supported in everything I ever tried. Or quit. I had a near full ride to study criminology and I asked if, after taking a figure drawing class, it was okay if I became an animator... and they said of course. Imagine! I was going to become a federal agent (yes, I wanted to be Scully) but I was going to drop all of it to become the classic starving artist.
It was fate, maybe, that one of the best art schools in the world was an hour away. I was waitlisted at Ringling College of Art and Design for their Computer Animation program and to my surprise I actually got in. So then I worked my ass off. I was scared shitless for four years. I had a lot to prove: to myself, to my parents, to anyone who thought I was being a silly dreamer.
But Ringling encouraged my drive. And that hard work ended up getting me a job at Dreamworks where I worked on Megamind, the Madagascar movies and How to Train Your Dragon 2 and others. I was incredibly lucky to be able to call Dreamworks home for 7 years. And that whole time I was drawing at night, creating, needing more.
We decided after a while to move back home east to be near family. We somehow ended back in Florida where Magic Leap had just gotten funding from Google and was looking for my exact position. Right place, right time, always open to opportunity. So now I can add real time game making to my checked off bucket list items, as well as designing the future or something. By day, I create shaders, textures, concepts and models. And yet, I still needed to go home and paint.
I've never understood to have any reason to draw or paint other than I feel like I have to. I grew up surrounded by artists, was never discouraged from creating, and it easily takes over my life. I love art- I love absorbing it, learning about it and from it, appreciating it and being inspired by it. I am lucky enough to do it for a living. But even working in it full time seems it’s not enough. I do need people to... see... what I see. And I don't even know what I'm looking at most of the time. I like fantastical but familiar worlds. I use every painting as a reason to learn - for example: these crystals are pretty cool! I want to get better at understanding refraction and reflection and translucence- what kind beautiful image could accent a study of this and turn it into a surreal portrait? It honestly sounds kind of funny and practical when I really think what drives me to create art. I don't think I'll ever stop being a student.
A word of advice:
Your art will only get better at the pace in which you pursue it. I was lucky enough to be able to go to school and invest the time in leveling myself up more quickly, maybe - but if you've got the passion you'll do it no matter what. That’s why I'm still learning - you need to go at the world at 110%. If you don't you'll only disappoint yourself. Give it your all and it's gonna happen. Online and free courses, subscriptions, weekend classes, full on college, the information is there. It’s up to you how often you want to absorb it and put it back out into the world.