JAIME GERVAIS Concept Illustrator
Concept art is hot commodity in a cutthroat field of artistic enthusiasts, something that Jaime Gervais is surely aware of. “This type of work is not easy to get into and is tailored for those who are serious with art as a career and not just as a hobby,” said Gervais, stating the difficult nature of artistic competition.
Since graduating from Capilano University’s Illustration and Design (IDEA) program in 2013, Gervais has worked on a variety of exciting projects from DC Comics to Disney, expressing that she loves “to be the vision and to have the story come through [her] so that it can be shared with the world.” Having such a reputable resume is not an easy task for any creative individual, and so it is a true testament to hard work and talent being key attributes for those who are interested in this line of work.
As a concept artist how do you go about finding work?
I work full time in television as an in-house illustrator and graphic designer (includes concept art) and I’ve joined the union for Film and TV in Vancouver. Finding work means finding the right people to talk to, show my portfolio to and eventually get lucky enough to get an interview. At first it’s about you contacting them, then eventually they will call you as you build your portfolio, skills and experience.
How did you become interested in this line of work?
Through a friend of mine who also has a more ‘realistic’ style to their work. Now I have many friends in this line of work.
What skills did you need to develop in order to excel in your field of work?
Savvy computer skills. I was already strong in Photoshop by the time I hit school so I needed to learn Adobe Illustrator and InDesign which closed the gap. I also needed to learn how to handle Art Direction, Time Management, Hotkey functions and good workflow from beginning sketches to final prints or concepts.
How do you think that the IDEA Program has helped you with your career?
It gave me the design and illustrative
skills I needed which fast-tracked me into a really solid and interesting career path that pays well and keeps me busy and motivated.
Where do you see yourself in five years? Is there an ideal location and/or job distinction you would like to have?
I’d love to work long-term for a Marvel or DC film or series. After designing props for DC’s current series, Arrow Season 4, (Arrow’s Bow 3.0, arrowheads, Anarky’s Staff and Diggle’s controversial new helmet) I’d love to get in there and do so much more.
Who has influenced you the most for your line of work?
Andy Park, Jonas De Ro, Brad Rigney, Syd Mead, Drew Struzan, Terese Nielsen, Iain McCaig, James Gurney, Boris Vallejo, Julie Bell, Donato Giancola, Brian Froud, Kekai Kotaki, Bobby Chiu (to name a few). I have a pretty tight little collection of Art books from my favourite movies, series or artists that I keep close by.
What essential equipment do you need in order to perform your style of concept art? Are there certain things you cannot live without?
A fast computer with hard-line internet, Wacom Cintiq, Adobe Creative Suite, Google Images for reference, sketchbook with purple Pentel Col-Erase mechanical pencil and Staedtler eraser. Oh and Google Music and iTunes for streaming media with headphones.
Do you have any favourite pieces or series that you have done so far? Why are they your favourite?
I really enjoy working on my fan art. It really just allows me to really think about what I want to achieve with each piece since i’m the boss and I could do anything I want with it. That and I get to keep it when I’m done.
What sort of impact do you hope that your work has on individuals and/or communities?
I love being able to create really cool graphics and props for shows that my friends actually get to see in action by the stars and shown all throughout the sets. It’s awesome to know that I had a hand in influencing something that brings them joy in their lives and it makes for some good discussion.
What advice would you give to students and other people interested in this line of work? Any particular pathways, experiences, or artists to study?
This type of work is not easy to get into and is tailored for those who are serious with art as a career and not just as a hobby. Normal work days are 12+ hours long, Monday to Friday (some weekends) and there is a lot of pressure not only to create on demand, but to comprehend, design and deliver on time, professionally, quickly and efficiently with direction.
With that being said, IDEA actually really geared me up for this because I was used to working those long hours and more with school time and on weekends and with varying styles of work needed. The industry needs us visual creatives to work out the problems of a design that hasn’t been created yet, only thought of (concept art). It’s my job to bring those ideas into clear focus so that departments like Construction, Set Decoration, Props or Visual F/X can either build it, dress a set with it or make it move. So get trained in both graphic design and illustration (being good at both is better), see what others in the industry do on their websites to stay competitive, build a kickass portfolio, and research local productions that are currently filming and send out your work!
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