We thought it might be a nice idea if we all got to know each other a little better so will be doing a series of Q&A blogs with our team, first up it seems appropriate to start with our newest newbie, Phil Alderson who joins us this month as a Games Artist.
Phil, good to have you on board, tell us a little bit about your career journey so far….
I started out in Sheffield working as a graphic artist for e-learning company ACT. 15 years ago, I set up a business working on projects in primary and secondary schools, delivering animation and game design workshops to children – encouraging creative thinking and problem solving through art and technology.
I became a freelance illustrator over 10 years ago. During this time I have illustrated for a wide variety of different clients and briefs including editorial illustration for the likes of the Financial Times, and projects within e-learning, Flash games, character design, storyboarding and in recent years, children’s books.
Working as a freelancer allowed me to balance being a stay at home dad to my two children, seeking out illustration jobs as well as selling my own artwork and papermache creations.
What is your job title at Team Cooper and what does it mean?
I am a Digital Games Artist, which means illustrating and animating characters and game environments, adapting the white label engines to clients brands, and working on UX and UI designs – in my first week I’ve been sourcing game audio too so it pretty varied.
Why did you apply for the Team Cooper role and what are you looking forward too?
Having worked with Team Cooper in the past on a freelance basis I enjoyed their sense of humour and fun and creative approach to the design process, something which I felt would really fit with my way of working and illustration style. I knew that they were a team I wanted to be a part of.
After spending so many years working from home, I’m looking forward to working as part of a team, contributing to new and humorous ideas for games. I am keen to get out of my shed and work with a team of like-minded creatives.
What is your creative process?
Mind Maps are 50% of my process. I use them to explore initial ideas, doodle and think about elements needed to communicate an idea successfully.
They help me to find less obvious solutions to creative problems, sometimes the best results come from a more left-field approach. However, sometimes the simplest idea is the best and just needs fleshing out with a mind map to discover its full potential.
It’s important to me that my work conveys a sense of fun and playfulness so I always try to put in a bit of humour where appropriate. When I’ve done the mapping it allows me to move on to the next phase – composition and how an image is going to look. I might do some research and collate google images for reference later. Then its on to the usual process – thumbnails – sketches, rough artwork.
I also like to check half way to ensure a piece of work is meeting the clients criteria successfully, whats working well and what needs improving. After any amends i produce the final artwork.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Children’s cartoons. Nature documentaries, The Muppets. Long walks with the dog. Conversations with my children. Children’s books old and new. My favourite shop is a tiny bookshop on Hunters Bar Roundabout in Sheffield – I could spend hours in there!
I’m a big fan of finding other artists on Instagram – I love to find clues to their techniques, a sneak peek into someones studio. I’m a bit nosey like that but often it can inform your own techniques, discovering what methods people use to make their work. Its really interesting when you get to see peoples sketchbooks, rather than finished art, and the seemingly random images of from their life that inspire them and influence the art they produce.
I usually work with music in the background, sometimes it can change your mood and then the direction of an illustration, or really get you to focus in and make great progress on something you are working on.
I am also influenced by my family life. My two children and my dog give me lots of material to draw and often my illustrations will feature something that has happened or familiar characters. My kids love to spot little details and my daughter is always keen to give me ideas to make my illustrations better. They have been very excited to pass on their game ideas – hopefully the ‘Musical Cat squeezing Organ’ and ‘Stop the dog from jumping up at the table’ game will be Team Cooper’s next big hitters! Perhaps.
Lastly and most importantly, what is your Zombie Apocalypse survival plan?
I’d go to the nearest castle and borrow a suit of armour and a big sword for protection/chopping off heads.
Sounds like a good plan to us….
Do you have any questions for Phil? Leave a comment below and he’ll get back to you in between all the art!