How did you come to work on EverQuest II?
Back in the early 2000’s I was about to graduate with my Bachelor of Arts in art and animation, I was really looking for an internship with graduation so close. Well, it turned out that SOE was in San Diego and not too far of a drive from my house. I applied for an internship on EQ and got it doing basic animations and some generic art tasks. At the time, SOE was transitioning people from different projects and didn’t have a spot for me to transition to full time. I look back and think I probably just wasn’t good enough of an artist yet; my art definitely needed some work. So, I continued school and started on my masters at Academy of Arts in San Francisco, which allowed me to do another internship on EverQuest II. During that time, my focus was on model creation, and I did some weapons that when I look back on them now, I don’t know how I got a job. Luckily, they took a chance on me. So, 15 years later, I am now the Art Director for Characters on EQ and EQII.
What was the first creation you worked on for EQII?
Weapons, and I don’t show them to anyone. My skills were still being developed. Glad they took a chance on me.
What is your favorite design or creation that you have worked on for EQII?
It's usually always the last thing I worked on since I am always learning and trying to improve my skills. The last cool thing I did was the giant vampire guy called Dhampir Abomination.
How did you break into the game industry?
I got lucky. But actually, I have always wanted to be an artist. My dream as a kid was to work for Disney. So, I have been drawing all my life, copying comic books in the 80s and drawing anything of interest that I was thinking about at the time. I spent a lot of time sitting at my desk and drawing in my room as a kid. So, luckily SOE had internships which allowed me to get my foot in the door.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to break into the game industry?
Being an artist is a life-long journey. Teaching programs and how to push buttons is the easy part—actually learning to be an artist in any medium is the tough part. I have taught many years at the Art Institute of San Diego when it was around, then I taught 3-D classes at Oklahoma State since so many things have gone to full online. The one thing I see with students is the expectation that art will be easy and not take effort. Almost anyone who keeps driving and putting in the effort can get in, but what happens is most students, and I say like over 80 percent, will give up during the learning process.
Who is your favorite NPC in EQII?
Well, the Dhampir Vampire, of course. It was my latest fun model of last year's expansion.
What was the most challenging design you have worked on?
Anything that had tons of parts and hair or fur. There are easy ways to do hair and fur that are passable, but to really do it takes a lot of knowledge and effort. A few years ago, I took a masterclass on hair taught by John Lithvall, the guy who did all the hair in Horizon Zero Dawn. That was definitely an effective way to learn to get correct-looking hair done but it can be a pain. To refresh, I also did some hair tutorials by Adam Skutt. That’s the thing: learning to be an artist is never over. I have a sculpting class I will be taking this summer.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you got started?
School is a good start, but I really became a good artist when I started taking classes from masters already in the industry. That is the path I have my daughter on. She did junior college cheap and is now taking master classes to be a character artist, and her skills are already looking great. It's better than spending $100k on a 4-year art school.
What’s the first thing that got you interested in working in the gaming industry?
I wanted to be an artist all my life, when I was a kid; I dreamed of drawing cartoons for Disney. Well, games had really come a long way and artists have become essential in making great games. So, my focus changed to games, and it has been great.
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