Instructor at Max the Mutt
Van Lawrence Ching
2018 Concept Art Graduate of Max the Mutt
Ubisoft Toronto Art Director
What is concept art? For any visual undertaking, whether it’s a video game, animated film, or live action, choices about the style of characters, environments, and props contribute to the end goal — communicating the writer or director’s vision, offering inspiration to the whole creative team, and helping to tell the story.
The people who do this kind of work are called concept artists. This is an excellent career choice if, in addition to a love of creating art and a real interest in traditional painting and drawing, you are also interested in learning how to create digital art and want to be part of creating worlds. You also must enjoy being part of a team. Concept artists work with authors, directors, art directors, and other concept artists to establish the tone and style of a game, live action, or animated film. Good research skills plus verbal and written communication skills are part of the job description.
Max the Mutt (MTM)’s four-year Concept Art diploma program teaches students all of this in addition to related skills, including modelling and texturing, storyboarding, background design and painting, layout, and matte painting. The added magic ingredient at MTM is an emphasis on professionalism, including taking direction and meeting deadlines, which makes grads ready for the work world.
The emphasis on teaching traditional, representational fine art skills, something that is currently difficult to find is what impressed Instructor Bogdan Molea, an artist who has years of experience both as a fine artist and a concept artist. In his words, “The fundamentals that MTM offers are the most important thing for a concept artist because these are what set you up for success in life as an artist. At MTM, students get skills they can transfer to other areas.”
MTM cares about providing a foundation that will enable grads to build their careers. 2018 Concept Art graduate Van Lawrence Ching applies these skills every day in his role as a concept artist and environment artist with 13AM Games, which is currently releasing Dawn of the Monsters. “My education from MTM gave me a tremendously solid foundation and base to do this work,” says Ching. “In fact, MTM was a boot camp. The actual job is easier,” laughs Ching.
Van Lawrence found MTM’s sense of community particularly helpful in preparing him for the job world. “One of the most important aspects of becoming an artist is realizing you’re not in a vacuum. My classmates’ willingness to share work and critique one another created a real sense of community that can even build your career through classmates referring you to new work,” says Ching.
Ubisoft Toronto Art Director Patrick Ingoldsby has worked with many MTM graduates over the years, some of whom were awarded internships at Ubisoft, and has attended many graduate showcases and industry events. “We’ve hired talented graduates from Max the Mutt and continue to be impressed with the calibre of skill, education, and reliability of the artists,” he says. “Max the Mutt, as an art college, has a keen understanding of the creative talents and skills that are required in the real world.”
Good Concept Art is a requirement for all visual entertainment arts, and good concept artists will continue to be in demand.