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Mentor of the Day: Leighton Hickman

LeightonHickman_S4_World_Fades_ConceptAs we continue our mentor of the day posts, we’re so glad to be welcoming back one of our favorite mentors, Leighton Hickman!  Leighton is currently a Visual Development artist at DreamWorks Animation where he worked extensively on “Shrek: Forever After” and the next Chris Sanders movie “The Croods” as well as a number of titles in development.  Since our first round, Leighton has been a great mentor.

Phil Mamuyac was one of Leighton’s mentor’s last Fall 2012.  Phil started off most interested in learning about how a Visual Development artist thinks.  So Leighton wound up sharing how he works- how he comes up with ideas and artistically/technically applies them to his own work.  “I enjoyed meeting Leighton first and foremost. I hope to work with him in the industry down the line. He even let me visit his workplace which was an awesome experience, because I could see how he has his office setup and even see some of the pre-production work he’s currently working on.”

What was it like working with Leighton?  “Working with Leighton, he helped me direct my portfolio and get it industry-ready. My main goal was to work on full illustrations with color and prop designs. I now have several new illustrations, prop designs and material call-outs to add to my portfolio.

One of the many things I learned is to push your ideas and don’t set a limit on them. While it’s perfectly fine to set goals (i.e. learn how to paint color keys, revamp your portfolio), Leighton encouraged me–as far as the story itself–to imagine BIG: in terms of color, style, story. Especially because it was my own personal project–the only person who could set limits on me was myself. With this, my project was FUN and I hope it shows through that I did have fun working on this project with Leighton overseeing and helping me with it.”

You can see the amazing work Phil created with Leighton right below!

Phil’s final advice to Leighton’s future mentees? “To any prospective mentees, only apply if you’re serious about wanting to get better. Leighton is a busy guy and I’m grateful that he met up with me. Even after a long day of talking and creating art, he’s passionate about art and loves what he does. Not putting in the time and work on your own stuff will not get you better and would just be a waste of his time. Be professional. He related to me on a professional level and I felt it was only right to do the same. Be prompt, do your best and respect his time. You’ll be thankful you did.”

If you’re considering Leighton as a mentor, be sure to check out his profile page and his past mentor of the day posts here and here.  We’ve only got 2 weeks left for applications so apply soon!

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