SockMonkey Studios employs a range of ultra-cool and talented artists including THE Sophie Morris. Recently I managed to steal some time from probably one of the chillest and coolest people in games, to chat to her about life as a concept artist.
In your opinion what is the difference between being an artist and being a concept artist? Did you always know you wanted to be a concept artist?
“Being a concept artist means that I have to think about the practicality of the art I’m making. When you’re this kind of artist you’re not just making art for the sake of looking pretty or hanging on the wall – you’re at the start of the pipeline.
At its core, your role is as a problem solver, you’re creating art and designs for the purpose of fixing issues. Sometimes this can go the other way and you can cause problems, though. For example, if you add a certain thing to a character (like a cape) and there’s nothing in the game that would replicate cape physics already, then a programmer has to work out how this will work in the game.
You need to be always thinking about your colleagues and their skillset as well as your own.”
Do you remember the first piece of artwork you did?
“The earliest piece of art I vividly remember… I wrote age 9 on the bottom left of it and it was a snowman. I drew it during the Summer because I remember thinking I didn’t have any colouring pencils so if I draw a snowman, I won’t have to colour it in… Big Brain move. “
Did you always want to be an artist/work in games? Or did it kind of evolve?
“No, during high school I wanted to be an engineer and I remember going to the career’s person and saying I wanted to be an engineer and they mentioned that I had good grades in art. I then wanted to join the police to be a detective, because I was inspired by the game Hotel Dusk: Room 215 on the Nintendo DS and then (refer above) I hadn’t always really enjoyed art but relating it to games changed that. It was a nice mixture of two things I loved – and I like knowing the purpose for my art.”
What is a typical day in the life of a concept artist?
“I doodle… and then I doodle some more. It’s a surprising amount of looking at different fonts. Over the past year I’ve come to terms with the fact that I spend a lot of my day looking at references and assets that fit in with the style of the game I’m working on.
I usually start with getting together a mood board to inspire me and then I doodle from there – without those references I wouldn’t have a clue where to take a design. Once I’ve started drawing I get feedback from the producer and develop! Outside feedback is a huge help because when you’re looking at a piece for days on end you sometimes can’t see what other people will see.”
Do you have any tips for anybody looking to work in the gaming industry?
“Networking is hugely important, it’s how I’ve gotten to know everybody I know in the industry. If I hadn’t have attended events or made the effort to meet people in the area I never would have been able to land my role at SockMonkey Studios. Sometimes it is timing, I was approached initially while I was still in university which was amazing, but then I had to work in McDonalds after that for a while until I landed a full-time role with SockMonkey. Sometimes you have to make sacrifices which may feel like a step back at first but end up being the best moves.”
Concept art sound like the job for you? well take that little mouse and click on our careers page to stay in the know about our latest vacancies and maybe one day we could be writing about how great you are at concept art. Not ready to work with us yet? Why not check out our other blog posts and upcoming game Fish Tanks and see if that convinces you.