Alex Brady is a freelance concept artist working in games, film and product design living in Cambridge, England.
Number of years in industry: 10. Currently Freelancing.
Educational background: Studied car design at Coventry University in the UK. Majored in transport design and minored in product design. Held a BA 2.1 hons
Recommends you check out: Industry Workshops 2015 in London, its a really fun concept art workshop.
Current portfolio examples:
WHAT’S THE MOST IMPORTANT PIECE(S) OF ADVICE YOU CAN OFFER STUDENTS THAT YOU WISH THEY HAD TOLD YOU IN ART SCHOOL?
1. Respect the ancients, they figured it out a long time ago. They’re not called the Old Masters for nothing.
2. Read loads of books! If the author was intelligent and insightful it can rub off on you a little and drawing pictures of the things you see in your head when reading is easy and fun.
3 .Master studies and targeted portfolio pieces are one thing, (and useful at that) but if you copy whatever is trending right now, there will be thousands of people who are better than you and your work will be lost. You are unique — meaning if you use your imagination you can come up with things that are unique.
4. Try to surprise yourself and feel bold in expressing your unique combinations of feelings and ideas in your work.
ASSUMING THAT THERE ARE NO SPACE-TIME PARADOX’S INVOLVED… IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME 10 YEARS (KNOWING WHAT YOU KNOW NOW), WHAT WOULD YOU TELL YOUR YOUNGER SELF TO DO DIFFERENTLY?
Relax, and take it easy. Its not all or nothing – just keep working away on stuff you enjoy and you’ll get more work like that. Oh also: you’ll be broke for years, deal with it!… AND Don’t smoke so much.
Oh also: I’m currently transitioning male to female which I pussed out of doing for years; I’d say go for it and the Hell with anyone else. Luckily I live somewhere liberal where this isn’t a social outrage and my life is vastly improved as a result of my decision. I love it!
Some of Alex’s early work (~2011)
WHAT DOES “SUCCESS” MEAN TO YOU AND, WHAT ARE AT LEAST THREE THINGS YOU NEED TO DO IN ORDER TO ACHIEVE IT?
In professional work, a successful piece is one which gets Art Director approval, simple as that.
I think what makes a successful piece of personal work is more complex, Id say it should be honest, original, visually engaging, required hard work to do and inspires interesting thoughts in the viewer, perhaps comic or serious depending on the piece, and in which the artist has artfully selected each componant and technique in order to best help seed those thoughts. That’s why I think someone of any level can make stuff that’s good. If its honest and real, then its good.
Throw in some technical virtuosity derived from years of practice; a rich suggested narrative, or a novel take on an old trope, and clever or skillful use of tools, bold or subtle composition, effective color theory, elegance, the painterly stuff, and that’s a recipe for work I like. Mathias Verhasselt, Aaron Beck, Craig Mullins, Syd Mead, John Sargent, John William Waterhouse, Jerome, Levitan, Velasquez those guys are some of my faves in this kind of game.
Good pieces come in different shapes; sometimes a quick sketch can be good. Sometimes the 24th quick sketch of the day is the good one, the first 23 being garbage.
Sometimes you see an idea clearly in a flash, and using your whole arsenal of skills bring it into existence in a few happy hours; sometimes you have crushing artist’s block and have to work through it over painful days, researching and sketching till you find the threads of a viable idea.
Finally, challenge provokes good work. One aspect I enjoy about freelance is that often you will be instructed to design things you’ve never done before, say, your AD requests 5 forklift trucks, or 10 medieval swords, STAT, and you have to go away and learn as much as you can about hydraulics or medieval steel making techniques or… in order to be able to design them. I think sometimes you do your best work when you’re outside your comfort zone and have to think on your feet. You surprise yourself. Sometimes you screw up or burn a day trying something that doesnt work too, but sometimes you dont. Sometimes practice, preparation, intuition and inspiration converge and you nail it. Those are good days.
All images used with permission by the artist. © Alex Brady