Matt Dixon, Master artist interview. Matt Dixon long association with the games industry began in 1988. He has worked on various titles for almost every major gaming platform since then. He was employed by one of the UK’s largest independent games developers for more than a decade, initially as a production artist, then as an art lead. During that time he involved with numerous high profile game and movie licenses, including Harry Potter, Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon and Pirates of the Caribbean.
I remembered seeing the art of Matt Dixon 6-7 years back on art forum. I always wonder how does he do it? I love his stuff. And I have been following his work since then. And today, he is kind enough to spare his time for a short interview with idrawgirls.com
1. How and why did you want to become a Concept Artist?
Matt Dixon: I wish I could say that being a concept artist was a childhood dream and that I worked for years to hone my skills in preparation for my role as an adventurer on the creative frontier, sharpening my blade of art on the stone of ambition and stuffing my backpack with the treasure of hard-earned knowledge. It would be far more interesting than the truth, which is simply that I stumbled into the role of concept artist entirely by accident. When I started in the videogame industry back in the 1980’s development teams were very small, sometimes just two or three guys. In those days the nearest we came to concept art was a ballpoint pen doodle on a beer mat in the pub at lunch time to help get someone’s idea about a game mechanic across, and it was just as likely to be scribbled out by a coder as an artist. I’d been working in the industry for several years before team sizes, technology and organisation reached a point where more formal and deliberate communication became necessary. As I was in a senior role at the time, it fell to me to update those beer mat doodles to pencil sketches. Over time the pencil gave way to digital art and eventually I found myself working as a concept artist full time. It took me almost twenty years to realise that’s what I wanted to do..!
2. What is your first art job and how did you start?
Matt Dixon: The answer to this question depends on how you define ‘job’. I had a number of small paid gigs while I was still a teenager – painting leather jackets, designing band flyers and t-shirts, pixel artwork for computer games – though my day job at the time was working in a guitar shop. I suppose my first proper art job came when an old friend called me up to offer me an artist position at the videogame developer he’d started. I jumped at the chance and stayed with that company for over a decade. Without that phone call, or the support of those guys in the years that followed I wouldn’t be where I am now.
3. Where do you get your inspiration from?
Matt Dixon: Who knows? Definately not me, and I’m not sure any artist can define this with certainty. There’s no one place or thing that I can rely on for inspiration, and I try not to analyse the process too closely – I don’t want to go prodding around in my brain and break something. What I try to do is keep my noggin well fertilised with plenty of imaginative stuff – a compost of artwork, photography and movies and lots and lots of music – and just hope that ideas continue to sprout. I think it also helps to try and stay tuned in to the possibility of inspiration at all times – if I’m in the right mood, a walk around the park, a journey on the bus or even a trip to the shop for milk can all spark interesting ideas.
4. To you, what are the three most important elements in painting or concept art in general?
Matt Dixon: The three C’s. Communication. The function of all concept art is to communicate ideas – so effective communication is essential and should always be the artist’s primary consideration. Clarity. Art travels at the speed of light but the longer it takes the viewer’s brain to decode all that stuff that’s just squeezed in through their eyes the less effective it will be, concept art should be clear and easy to read. Cool. Hey, it’s got to look bad ass, right? Right!
5. What would you suggest to young artists on how to get start and become the better artist?
Matt Dixon: The three P’s! Practice. Presentation. Perseverance. Practice should be your number one priority. If you’re not eating, sleeping or attending to your body’s natural functions then are you doing something which means more to you than improving your skills as an artist? Probably not. Go find a pencil. Presentation is more important than many budding concept artists seem to think – obviously your portfolio should be focused, well organised and neat, but it’s equally important that you present yourself well. Concept artists aren’t rock stars, they’re creative professionals who are often expected to work long hours under a great deal of pressure to hit extremely challenging deadlines – present yourself in a manner that gives a potential employer confidence that you can handle everything they could throw at you. Perseverance – don’t give up! The market is extremely competetive and the standard is frighteningly high but the work is out there. Stick with it. It’s worth it.
Now you all heard, “Practice is your number one priority!” go draw!
Thanks again to Master artist, Matt Dixon. You can go see more of his work at www.mattdixon.co.uk