WhatiLearned.com - What I Learned
Mathew O’Halloran is an Environment artist currently working at Ubisoft Massive and is also host for our ArtStation Community Challenges.
What Mathew likes best about ArtStation Pro is the blogging feature for sharing and following WIPs.
“I really like seeing blogs from amazing artists. Ben Wilson, Joshua Lynch and Rogelio Olguin are all great examples of people who I look up to and they put the time in to share their own learnings so that maybe one day I can do what they do too. They show the underlying thought processes, techniques and progress that the finished posts don’t usually cover and I find this to be an important part of my own learning process as well as an invaluable tool to upcoming artists.”
Check out Mathew’s ArtStation-powered portfolio website.
Read his interview for some Challenge pointers and more.
What kind of training or experiences got you to the level you’re at today?
I went to University in the UK and gained a master’s in Animation. My animation skills aren’t the strongest but I always enjoyed making the environments, characters and props so in the final year I realized I needed to become an artist.
With hard work and a certain amount of luck, I got into the industry straight away after completing my master’s program. I began working as a generalist for a small mobile studio even though I really didn’t feel ready yet. My own imposter syndrome during that time pushed me to start making lots of friends through the Polycount community, they really inspired me to figure out what I wanted to be and to work hard enough to get better at it.
About 18 months after leaving University I was surprised to get an offer from Ubisoft Massive in Sweden to work on the soon-to-be announced ‘The Division’.
Since being at Massive I’ve been surrounded by so much talent and experience, I still, to this day, feel like I can’t compare so I just try to absorb as much knowledge as possible from those around me in order to improve.
As both an ArtStation Challenge host and previous winner, what’s your general advice on how to approach challenges?
For me, personally, I think the best thing you can do is trust your own instincts. In the challenge I participated in the designs that were the most popular were also the most bold and unique. I think this is because we like to see an artist’s individual creative vision come through in a piece.
I believe this goes for the Environment Art challenges too, it’s important to get your own personality and flare into your environment. If you are following a concept don’t be afraid to add your own twist in order to better show off your individuality and create your narrative.
Between the three challenges I’ve hosted, great execution has arguably been trumped by really creative and interesting scene design and composition; stunning assets are normally just the cherry on top.
This is why we’ve been able to see students and juniors really shine even when competing with veteran artists.
Where do you go to find inspiration?
For the most part I find inspiration in other artists. I don’t only look at other 3D Artists, I spend a lot of time browsing through concept art, vehicle design and all kinds of creative outlets.
My latest Mech was inspired by a split second glimpse of a Mech in a trailer for a new anime show, sometimes something as small as that is all you need to get the creative itch.
My obsession with the designs behind mechanic, robotics and aeronautics started when I was a child. I grew up on military bases where I was around cool tech and different vehicles and my grandad was a draftsman so I would spend hours taking in his design drawings. This fascination is something that shows in my own art.
One day I would love to see the Boston Dynamics robots in person, they are really inspiring to me.
What do you think makes a portfolio stand out from the rest?
The thing that makes a portfolio stand out is your personality. All of my favourite artists have a style and in a lot of cases you can see when they found their happy place and really blew up artistically.
I asked a Hero of mine, David Lesperance, a year ago what I should be working on and how to become a better artist. I totally expected him to tell me to get better at certain techniques or principles. He actually told me just to work on what I enjoy and put everything I have into that. Since then, I feel my work has improved in a big way and I’m having a lot more fun doing it so I like to pass on that same advice when people ask me.
See more of Mathew’s work on his portfolio website. To learn more about ArtStation Pro websites, click here.