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Industry Interview with Jenna Brown

An interview with 2D Artist Jenna Brown, originally published on the now defunct website, The Grind, in June of 2016.

Ryan Schmidt, Blogger

April 13, 2017

7 Min Read

The interview below was published on The Grind, a now defunct website, and was conducted in June of 2016. Although some of the content covered shows its age today, the interview is finding a new home here for anyone interested in diving in to read what Jenna had to share!

Jenna Brown
At the Time of Publication (16-06-04)
Position: 2D Artist
Project: A Hat in Time (PC)

01) How long have you been producing art in a professional capacity?
I’ve been doing commissions professionally since I graduated from university in 2015. Before that, I was making side-money doing it infrequently over the course of many years. I’ve been working on A Hat in Time since 2014, however, so I’m very new to the industry in a full-time capacity.

02) How did you get involved with Gears for Breakfast?
Through Twitter, actually! Twitter has been an invaluable tool for getting client work so far, and this job was no exception. In 2014, Jonas (director at Gears for Breakfast) saw my work and asked if I was interested in trying out texture art for their game. I had never done that type of work before, as I was an illustrator primarily, but I decided to bite the bullet and give it a shot, and here we are two years later! Over time I’ve developed from being a texture artist to 2D artist for the game. It’s been a fantastic learning experience, and I really get to explore all areas of 2D art development while drawing cute kids in hats.

03) What’s your favourite artistic medium? Why?
Digital by a long mile. I love how versatile and resourceful digital art is as a whole: you really can create anything you want. To me, digital is beyond just paintings and illustrations since you can do 3D, music, and animation all within one device! It’s fantastic that we live in an age where all these tools are so readily available, and as a result, we as artists can branch out more than ever before. It’s also economic in the long-run for beginners since art supplies offline pile up in cost. I learned this the hard way in university…. I will say, however, I do love the flow of inks and markers. If I’m not on a tablet, I’m definitely using those!

04) What kind of artwork do you enjoy making the most?
My immediate comfort zone is cute girls doing happy things, but lately I’ve really enjoyed being more abstract and distorting my images. I guess if I were to make a piece right now, I would sketch an idea and think “how can I twist this?” That challenge is what I currently enjoy most.

05) How have your artistic approaches changed over time, if at all?
They’ve changed vastly over the past ten years, especially in the last two! My methods when I was younger was really just to push artwork out at an accelerated rate, and not look back. Usually when you’re starting out with art this is very common, as your skills haven’t really developed, so you’re more comfortable just getting an idea out without any foresight.

These days that methodology doesn’t really work with me, as speed hinders my process in the long-run. When you’re stuck in a constant deadline loop, you do learn to get fast, but often your creativity suffers as a result and it can all get a bit samey. More and more I’ve had to hold back on pieces so I can really simmer on an idea so I can make the most of its potential. It’s initially very frustrating to do so, however, I’ve learned as an artist that time really does improve an idea, and taking care in the piece really shows in the end result. Finding that balance between speed and process has been hard, though, and I struggle with it to this day.

Technically, since I got my new screen, my artwork has become much more vivid and brighter. I’m much happier with bolder palettes and I hope that shows in the future.

06) What have you found the most challenging about producing art for games?
Being able to constantly find new ideas. It can be quite difficult when you don’t feel creative that day. This was fine when it was texture work, but when its title cards it’s much trickier!

07) How have you found collaborating on a project with multiple artists?
Collaboration works both ways, as you have to be as open to working with others as they should be with you. So far, I’ve found collaborating with artists very streamlined and enjoyable! It’s always great to get a fresh set of eyes and opinions on your work while you’re providing input at the same time. Occasionally conflicts will occur, and whenever that happens you really do have to be diplomatic and constructive. It’s a real skill—especially once you consider the game industry—but I’ve had to work often in teams that aren’t game artists!

08) Any tips for artists interested in offering commissions for the first time?
Never undersell yourself. Minimum wage is what you should always aim for as that’s what your time is worth at the very least. I sold commissions when I first started for milkshake money (I was twelve and it was two dollars)! These days, prices are not as dire, but I built up my experience and started to charge more as the demand grew. Initially, your first prices are your testing ground for demand, so never think your first prices are set in stone.

If your commissions aren’t going so well initially do not be deterred by it. Keep making art and pushing yourself, and as your audience grows, so will your customer base. You have to be confident in what you’re selling, and usually that confidence reflects well with your potential customers.

09) Any advice for artists looking for their first paid, professional project?
Don’t be afraid of rejection! It’s extremely common in this industry, and I was lucky to get a job on a game without prior experience through my work alone. That being said, applying for game projects is another story! Rejections are tough to swallow at first, but be critical of the process and your work to eventually get the job you want. You should also have a website that shows immediately what your work is and what you’re aiming for. Websites are extremely handy and the standard over a blog site.

10) What software and tools do you use or recommend?
I personally use Paint Tool Sai and Adobe Photoshop, and both are very good tools. Clip Studio Paint is also great! Both Clip and Sai are affordable and easier to use than Photoshop, so those tools are a good starting point for beginners.

11) What do you do in your free time? Any hobbies?
I honestly just like to unwind by playing games, ironic as it is, or by drawing my own personal artwork that isn’t commission or work-based. Watching movies is very common, too. I should find hobbies that I don’t do all the time! Haha

12) If you had more time, what would you spend it on?
Creating more zine projects and dedicating my time to my stories! Conceptually, I have so many ideas, but so little time. I’d also decorate and spring clean my home properly, because it never gets done when you have two artists living together.

13) Finally, what would you buy if you had a million dollars?
Buy a home—maybe two homes if I’m adventurous—and sit in them for sixty years, because the freelance life will not buy me one anytime soon! Maybe someday….


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