PHIL WOHR IS A PROFESSIONAL CONCEPT ARTIST WITH OVER A DECADE OF EXPERIENCE WORKING IN THE VIDEO GAMES INDUSTRY.
Phil Wohr’s current portfolio examples
If you haven’t already, be sure to check out Part 1 of this interview, where we asked him specific questions about what it’s like to be a concept artist in the entertainment industry, dispel a few common misconceptions that aspiring artists tend to have about the field, and discuss his educational background. Here, in part two of this interview, we ask Phil Wohr specific questions about building his portfolio, marketing himself in the industry and more. Here’s what Phil Wohr had to say:
HOW VALUABLE WILL GETTING AN EDUCATION FROM A UNIVERSITY OR COLLEGE BE FOR ASPIRING ARTISTS WHO WANT TO BREAK INTO THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY? SHOULD THEY ATTEND A REGULAR SCHOOL WITH A LIBERAL ARTS PROGRAM? A 4 YEAR ART SCHOOL? OR JOB SPECIFIC TRADE SCHOOL (LIKE GNOMON, CONCEPT DESIGN ACADEMY, FZD, ETC). OTHER?
If you can afford to go to art school, then that’s awesome (it’s very expensive). For concept art I think your portfolio is really what is going to matter most. I would almost recommend something like an art atelier school, or just a dedicated art program. At the end of the day having a degree might get you paid a bit more, but if someone comes in with a significantly better portfolio (regardless of their education), the company will probably hire them.
Personally, I’m glad I went to school because it taught me about other parts of the pipeline and exposed me to things that I couldn’t have experienced on my own.
The one thing I will say loudly is that if you can’t afford to go to school, don’t let that stop you. There is so much information available online that will educate you without ever having to go to a big name school. If you go that route try to befriend some artists or join a community who can teach you some things along the way.
WERE YOU DISCIPLINED AND/OR FOCUSED IN SCHOOL? WHAT WAS YOUR ROUTINE? HOW MUCH TIME DID YOU SPEND ON YOUR HOMEWORK VS. SOCIALIZING?
I definitely spent a lot of time creating art while in school. I used to have this goal of having a “perfect” day of creating art all day long. Then trying to string those days together. It never really fully worked out, but the idea kept me working.
It’s pretty impossible not to get distracted sometimes, but I definitely spent a lot of long days and late nights creating art — especially in portfolio classes.
I spent a fair amount of time socializing too though, but socializing with other artists is still helpful, I guess. I didn’t go to a lot of parties, or spend tons of time doing that kind of stuff. I probably spent about 10 hours each day working/attending class— you have to work hard in school because it’s the foundation for things to come.
BESIDES THE FUNDAMENTAL ART CLASSES (PERSPECTIVE, ANATOMY, COLOR THEORY, ETC.), WHAT CLASSES DO YOU THINK STUDENTS SHOULD TAKE IN COLLEGE? ARE THERE ANY CLASSES YOU TOOK WHICH SURPRISINGLY HELPED YOU MORE THAN YOU THOUGHT THEY WOULD?
I can’t really say that there was some non mandatory class I took that highly rasied my own skill level to a surprising degree. But I have seen that people who practice cast drawing seem to really improve their abillities a lot. It sort of forces you to focus on a tight quality control and a high range of midtone values. So I’d just say if you have a chance to take a course on cast drawing I bet it would help you quite a bit.
Also, this isn’t a class, but I would recommend that students practice still life drawings, and try to make them highly accurate. It’s a great way to improve your understanding of lighting, reflections, and materials, and you can do it at home for free. And to clarify I mean create a little still life, light it, and paint that digitally or traditionally. It’s more beneficial than painting from a flat photo because you can get a better look at what is going on and understand it at a higher level by seeing it in 3D space and not just mimicking a flat picture.
DID YOU HAVE ANY OUTSIDE HELP PUSHING YOU ALONG WITH YOUR TRAINING? FROM A MENTOR, PASSIONATE TEACHER? FAMILY? FELLOW STUDENT?
I didn’t have like one person specifically that was a mentor but rather a lot of other artists at school that were all pretty inspiring.
I made a lot of friends in college and we all pushed each other and talked about tips and that sort of stuff.
That’s one thing that is really nice about being in an art school. Sometimes you can learn as much from the other students as you would from the instructors or the curriculum.
DID YOU STUDY OR TAKE ADDITIONAL CLASSES/ LESSONS, OUTSIDE OF SCHOOL? IF SO, HOW FREQUENTLY?
A lot of the studying I was doing outside of school was really just me practicing or watching tutorial videos, drawing still life, and that sort of thing. There are so many training tutorials available. Especially now, even if you don’t have time or money to take extra lessons, that doesn’t mean you can’t keep learning.
This concludes Part 2 of our interview with Phil Wohr. In Part three, we discuss with Phil how he marketed himself coming out of college, how he landed his first job and more. All images used with permission by the artist. ©Phil Wohr