After Graduating from the University of West England with a BA honours degree in drawing and applied arts, Lauren Mann creator of Loppi art has stormed the illustrative design world creating experimental fantasy nouveau based digital characters, all with equal amount of personally, wit and suspense.
I was luckily enough to grab her from her busy schedule at Playfish to have a chat about her life, work, current schedule and the current industry climate.
Hi Lauren! Its really nice finally hear from the brains behind this collection of characters. We know you gain a lot of inspiration from video games, comics and anything in that sort of realm, but what would you say is the most specific resource you use for a boost of imagination on a regular basis?
I own quite a few art books. Their subjects range from things like typeface design and monograms to classical art and concept art. I find these to be a really invaluable resource for sparking whatever dormant creativity is lying about in my mind. I make sure to collect resources on many subjects that interest me so that when I’m experiencing a creative drought or need to try something new there’s always something there to look at. I’d definitely recommend it!
Your character designs are extremely life like and very powerful in creating a sense of a real human personality. Do you base your characters on people you know?
I don’t really base my characters directly on anybody I know, but they do tend to be firmly grounded in realistic personality types that fascinate me. I don’t believe in ‘good’ or ‘evil’ as a black and white concept and I try my best to get their personality across in as few words as possible as I want people to interpret what they may be like by looking at their design, poses, expressions, and actions rather than by reading a huge explanation.
Did you know you always wanted to be an artist?
Like many artists I have had the compulsion to draw from a young age. Admittedly I never considered it a viable career choice beyond a hobby and initially was more of an academic student at school. For a while I considered becoming and architect but eventually settled on web design as making websites was also an interest of mine. After the first year of my degree in web development I finally gave in to myself and transferred onto an art degree. I’m very lucky to have supportive parents who backed me completely in my decision to become an artist. After graduating I dabbled in some freelance work and did a few internships as both a traditional illustrator and designer, before applying for a job at Playfish games, where I currently work.
Some of your work has a heavy fine art base to it. Did you already have a background knowledge of art history and fine art before university and did this help you in creating a deeper presence of era in your artwork?
I’ve been enthusiastic about classical and fine art since a young age, so it has had a big impact on my understanding of form, light and colour. I’ve spent a lot of time in art galleries (The National Portrait Gallery in London being one of my favourites) admiring the paintings and I’m currently learning to paint using oils to get a better insight into the style. I wanted to subvert a simplistic illustrative style with deep, tangible colours and heavy detail. I feel like it adds a unique and unusual element to my illustrations. I’m also fascinated by more graphic historical elements such as heraldry and monograms which feature in my design work.
We know your currently working for Playfish, which must be really exciting! Do you have any other plans in mind for any more personal work or further work with another company?
It’s important for me to keep on my toes despite having a comfortable and secure job. While my main focus is my job, I like to take on commission work and personal projects outside of work. I’m working on a comic project that one day I’d like to share, but with my limited spare time it may not be for a little while yet. I’m currently very happy and stimulated working with Playfish and they put a lot of effort into developing their artists and teaching them new skills so I’m sure I will be here for the foreseeable future!
Where would you like to ultimately see yourself in 5 years time? Do you have any current goals set?
My focus at the moment is to develop my career as a game artist and to learn more practical skills such as 3D modeling and animation so that I can become as versatile as possible. The games industry is evolving and changing at an exponential rate at the moment so I’d like to prepare myself for whatever comes my way! While I don’t have any specific goals set right now, I would certainly like to be in a senior creative position by then.
A lot of artists find it hard to get noticed when they finish graduating from art school, and find it equally as hard networking and getting to know people as it’s such a big daunting world out there full of people who all know one another! How did you start getting your own foot on the ladder? Do you have any helpful tips?
This is very true! Universities and colleges often tend to put the false belief into their students that everybody studying for a qualification will graduate and be entitled to a great job. This isn’t always the case even with the most talented and ambitious of artists. It was 9 months after I graduated before I began working full-time in an art job, with quite a few rejections in between, and I was lucky!
Networking is pretty vital in the art industry, so be sure to surround yourself with other artists and listen to their professional input. Apply to any job that your skills will allow and be prepared to work a grunt job for a reasonably low wage at entry-level, once you get a little experience it will be far easier to move up or get the attention of employers in the future. LinkedIn is a brilliant tool for getting in contact with those in the industry too as you can list your credentials for potential employers to see, but the most valuable asset you can have in getting a job will be your portfolio, so set up a website! Build a strong and varied portfolio that demonstrates your abilities and lists your qualifications and experience. It’s a very powerful way of getting the attention of employers and clients and you should do your best to keep it clear and succinct. That said, the deciding factor will be your ability to stick at it, develop your skills and work hard.
Words by Michelle Siddall
Images courtesy of Loppiart.com
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