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Mentor of the Day: Leighton Hickman

Leighton Hickman has set the bar high.  If DreamWorks Animations has visited your school within the last 3 years, odds are you’ve seen his work in their presentation when it comes to portfolios.  In fact, recruiters at DreamWorks often show his graduating portfolio as the standard they use to judge everyone else and for good reason.

Although a recent graduate from Art Center College of Design, Leighton has managed to develop a wide range of styles.  In a talk he gave with Picture This (former Motivarti), 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 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.

He also emphasized the importance of landscape painting from life as a way to improve your ability to understand color and light.  In fact, Leighton has started teaching a landscape painting class through Concept Design Academy and often posts demos at The Art Center (not the school, but the blog).

Shortly after graduating Art Center College of Design, Leighton began working as a Visual Development Artist for DreamWorks Animation.  For the past 3 years, he’s worked on Shrek: Forever After and the upcoming Chris Sanders film Croods.  Currently, he is freelancing as Conceptual Artist and Illustrator in the advertising, video game, and film industries.

And now, Leighton is joining the Motivarti Mentorship program!  Leighton hopes to pass along the skills and knowledge that he has learned in his combined experiences as a student, a teacher and a professional to help better prepare my mentee to follow their passion into a career in art. Leighton is open to taking students from any skill level and all backgrounds.  He’s even willing to take up to 5 mentees! So whether you’re just starting out and looking for general advice about the industry and where you might fit in or are a recent graduate/working professional looking to enhance your skills, Leighton’s ready to help!

There are less than 4 weeks left to apply for our Spring round, so apply soon!

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