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Mentor of the Day: Craig Elliott

CraigElliott_bees_housesWe’re honored to have Craig Elliott returning for our Spring 2013 Mentorship Program!  Craig Elliott is currently a freelance Visual Development Artist, Illustrator and Fine Artist.  He’s worked with many of the major studios including Disney, DreamWorks, Blue Sky, Illumination Entertainment, and Nickelodeon to name a few.  Craig has been with us since our first round back in Spring 2012 and has consistently had some of our best feedback.

“Craig was a great mentor, for starters…The critiques were great, Craig was very flexible, and it was so self-directed that it was a healthy obligation without getting stressful,” says Sam Gauss, one of Craig’s mentees last fall.

Chelsea Harper, another one of Craig’s fall mentees, says “He’s incredibly easy to approach, to talk to, and to ask questions. He’s also eager to help and provide any length of discussion in order to help you understand a concept, and if at first he doesn’t succeed in getting a concept across, he tries and tries again. He gives his all and he’s incredibly supportive.”

Craig has always been on our mentors that’s willing to take on international mentees.  He uses a variety of communication methods such as email, Skype, and Google hangouts.   Angela Pauly Llobet, a former mentee, recommends Google hangouts best, “Craig was great explaining things by mail and even better by skype or Google + hangouts. The Google + hangouts give a lot less lag and the image of the screen share is much sharper. I’d recommend this to other students!”

Each of Craig’s mentees took different approaches for their mentorships.

For Sam, “I let Craig decide what he thought would be the best things to focus on: I’d originally thought we’d do more narrative illustrations, but he thought my prop work was strongest and worth giving it the nudge it needed to be ‘excellent.’ All I said was that I wanted to get ‘better,’ and I thought he might have the best idea on how to go about that.

Craig suggested a few resources such as a sourcebook that were incredibly valuable, and we worked mainly on rendering. But the most important thing might have been to reorganize my website, which was assignment #1! Haha.”

For Angela, “I got a great head start on a beautiful project I want to keep working on as a big portfolio piece.  I had fun each and every single time, and I got over mayor work/method insecurities that were holding me back. And I can say we also cultivated a nice friendship!

I learned how to properly analyze other artist work to learn from it and apply this to my work. Also some awesome tips and work philosophy to make my life much lighter and easier. I can say that the knowledge passed onto me by Craig is invaluable.”

As for Chelsea, she was most interested in designing costumes, furniture, scenes, characters, and other items.  The most important thing she learned was , “that I don’t have to spend hours and hours rendering things when I can use short cuts instead. I thought it was an artist taboo, but any way to save time is a legitimate way to do digital art. There was also a lot of dispelling of myths that I had thought were truths in the art industry.”

What kind of people would Craig’s mentees suggest apply for Craig?

Sam recommends, “Recent graduates who have the time to devote to their projects without having to worry about classwork. I missed the guided instruction from my illustration classes, so this was a great experience.”

“Any artist who wants to polish their abilities and learn some insight from the animation industry in the illustration and Visual Development area. Everyone could benefit form this program, specially if their mentors are as incredible as Craig is!

I would say be highly prepared with everything you want to learn. Make a list with visual references of what you think is the hardest for you. Study as frequently as possible when given the assignments and try to dedicate a lot of time to the mentorship.The more you put in, the more you get out!” says Angela.

Chelsea eloquently sums up what it’s like working with Craig –  “I enjoyed not only learning from my mentor but also developing a friendship with him as well. It’s nice to see that great artists in the industry are just as human as I am. It made asking questions and being honest about my fears and concerns a lot easier to communicate.”

For more information about Craig, check out his mentor page, and previous mentor of the day posts here and here.

The following work is by Angela Pauly Llobet




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