>Leighton Hickman Recap
Recent Art Center grad Leighton Hickman was our last speaker for the Summer 2010 term. He brought images from the portfolio that got him hired at DreamWorks, and he also brought some sample images of the kinds of projects he worked on as a new employee.
Regarding his portfolio, he commented that some of the things that got him hired were the wide range of styles he displayed, as well as his ability to understand how light works, and reflect that in a painting. Leighton did say that it’s hard to get into DreamWorks with a really stylized portfolio, like all Mary Blair style. It’s important to show that you’re versatile. He also said to make sure the things in your portfolio represent what you want to do, because you’ll get hired for the things that are in your portfolio. While he was here at school, Leighton said that he always tried to do three times as much work for each class to get better faster. He also emphasized the importance of landscape painting from life as a way to improve your ability to understand color and light.
In terms of his work at DreamWorks, he hit the ground running when he was hired and began immediately doing prop design sheets and color and lighting key paintings for Shrek 4. He said that in each art department for each project, there are usually two painters and four designers. There are also two groups: a blue-sky vis dev group at the beginning, and a second group of more practical, fleshing-things-out designers. He was lucky enough to get to do a little of everything on Shrek 4. Leighton mentioned the importance of always asking yourself, “What’s the story behind this?” whenever you’re painting or designing anything.
For advice for students, Leighton said to look at as much art as possible, across all genres, and develop good taste. He advised us not to copy other people’s styles, but to learn from them instead. Take what we like and modify to fit our own style. He also advised us to make sure that the subject matter we’re choosing is applicable to what we want to do and where we want to work. Lastly, he emphasized again the importance of observing color and light, and studying the physics of light as it relates to art and film.
The prompt word was “Show.” Congratulations, Ian!