Ep.166: Awesome tips for game art with Katie Hamill aka Elentori

By Iva Mikles •  Updated: Aug 02, 2018 •  Interviews

Hey, guys! In this episode, I am chatting with Katie Hamill, aka Elentori a digital artist, illustrator and game developer, currently working with Multivarious gaming studio in Columbus, Ohio.

Get in touch with Elentori

Key Takeaways

“Never lose a passion for drawing. If you have an art block, just go to Pinterest, browse and just keep making something.”

Resources mentioned

💡 Please note: We are supported by our readers. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you! For more info, please read our disclosure.

Special thanks to Elentori for joining me today. See you next time!

All artworks by Elentori, used with permission

Episode Transcript

Announcer  

Creative, artistic, happy! That’s you. There are endless possibilities for living a creative life. So let’s inspire each other. Art Side of Life interviews with Iva.

Iva Mikles  

Hello everyone, Iva here and welcome to the next episode of Art Side of Life where I chat with inspiring artists and create variety or related videos before we introduce our guests and go to the interview. Let’s thank our sponsors. If you’re looking for a top quality print shop and online store to sell your art prints then you should definitely check out imprint imprint has been helping artists print and sell gallery quality prints of their work all over the world for over a decade. Go to artsideoflife.com/imprint and use promo code artside to get 10% discount. Have you heard of arts Next I take the subscription box of unique high quality art supplies. Every month you discover new art products, limited edition tools, exclusive supplies and useful techniques. Go to artsideoflife.com/art snakes and use promo code artside 10 to get 10% discount. If you are a digital artist, you will love our stupid app which turns your iPad Pro into a virus graphics tablet for your Mac. So you can use all the programs like Photoshop right on your iPad, go to alter the flight.com/astropad and use promo code artside to get 10% discount. And now let’s go back to the interview. My guest today is Katie, but better known as Ellen Tory. She’s a digital artist, Illustrator and game developer currently working with multiverse gaming studio in Columbus, Ohio. She’s most known for her speedpaints and tutorials on YouTube and Patreon and also on her Twitch streams. So please now welcome Ellen Tory. And let’s get to the interview. Welcome everyone to the next episode of Art Side of Life. And I’m super happy to have Katie here. Hi. Hello. Oh, perfect. I’m super happy that you took time and joined us here. And let’s just start with your background right away. And maybe you can share some stories from your childhood and how you go to art and maybe like okay, this is the time I decided this will be my profession. Okay, yeah,

Katie Hamill  

um, my career path in life, I guess been really similar to a lot of other artists. I’ve been drawing since I was like I’ve been drawing since before I could walk actually, my mom loved that. Because like, I just be like, you know, one and she just gave me like a lot of paper and crayons and I was perfectly content. I didn’t really take drawing seriously till about college, though, before that it was just sort of aggressive doodling in school, because it was something to do that besides paying attention. I actually almost went to school for Computer Science and Engineering, because I really liked math. But then I got to college. I was like, then, I think I’d rather draw for the rest of my life. My parents were like, Are you sure? And I was like, I can do this. And surprisingly, they were just like, alright, we support you, but have fun. Don’t Starve and I’m like, came on. And then I so college is about when I seriously started learning and unfortunately, the college I went to wasn’t really for like, that’s a whole nother story. But long story short, I ended up teaching myself. But yeah, it was just a lot of teaching and growing and looking. I was really good at hunting opportunities. Like I actually got my current career path started. In my final year of college, there was an indie game conference, like Expo, and I printed off my resume to go to the game Expo and everyone else was like walking around look at all of the games, and I was walking around passing out my resume being like, Hey, I draw stuff do you need an artist and one of them did and they’re like, it was actually the people who are running the expo. And they’re like, Yeah, our artists is leaving, like we need one. And that’s how I got my job that I’m still at today. Which was really cool. Um, do a bunch of other stuff and and that’s pretty much how I got to ram today. And there’s like a bunch of like side projects I’ve done along the way. I don’t know if it’s a lot.

Iva Mikles  

So what did you prepare for these? You know, like, either the portfolio or what was the thing you were handing out?

Katie Hamill  

It was just a printed piece of paper like just it was just my resume all typed up, but on it was I guess not links but um, my name Online at that point, I had already pretty much established myself as like Ellen Tori online. I’ve actually been on Tori online for a long time, like way back in high school Deviant Art days. So I’d already been building sort of an online portfolio. And yeah, it was pretty much just that, like, obviously, in college, you don’t have a lot of experience, I worked at a couple physical painting galleries in college that were just for fun. And the biggest thing, though, was I had a, I think I actually used deviant arts portfolio services to build my portfolio. I don’t know if it’s a subscription only feature or not, but uh, you can literally type in, like, if you search a DA folio, they have this entire portfolio site. And that’s what I built my first art portfolio in. And when I passed out the resume, they were able to literally Google me on their phone, because the people who needed an artist were on their phones looking at my resume, but it was all online. And like, an hour later, they were just like, Hey, before you leave the convention. So yeah, and I was actually the only one in my class who had an online portfolio upon graduation, which was kind of weird, but it’s really important. A lot of kids just like, draw and like hoard it privately. And like I don’t know if they’re like afraid to post it online or not. But like, it’s really important to, in any way, shape or form start building a portfolio and presence online and then professionally, you can kind of cherry pick and put it in its own little place. But

Iva Mikles  

and what was your What was your strategy to kind of to build your portfolio when you wanted to put like characters maybe also environments? And did you think about different types of light, I want to have this color scheme and

Katie Hamill  

oh, I wasn’t quite that good. Yet, I was pretty much just desperately grabbing at the best that I had, I’d always been told portfolio should be roughly 13 pieces. Admittedly, the portfolio ended up getting together online was more than that. But it was broken into categories. I think, when you’re applying to like, an actual specific job, it’s better to have like 13 pieces of tailored art specifically for that job. Like if you’re applying to Blizzard, you don’t want to have a portfolio full of Adventure Time art, just feel like Hey, I mean, maybe. So for mine, I had like background art, character art and some game art. I’d actually already in my senior year started dabbling with making game assets for some other college kids who were looking for an artist. So it was really varied actually. And after being hired, they actually told me that that was one of the things that attracted them, to me, is just the variety of styles I had, I guess, that I was able to do. The landscape and the characters that admittedly, my my style was still really kind of anime at the time, I’m not even gonna lie, because that’s where everybody starts. But it wasn’t just that it was like all sorts of stuff. And they were like, That’s cool. Like, you can tell when people like, I don’t know, can like mold into a job you need I guess. So I guess my tips are variety is good. But truly make sure it’s the best of what you have to offer. And don’t just pack a bunch of stuff, no portfolio just to have full like, you really want to make sure you’re showcasing what you feel is your best work.

Iva Mikles  

Anybody showing also like the characters, which are like, Okay, I have this character, and it will be in this landscape and the props it will fit into the landscape you showed before? Or did you structure it differently

Katie Hamill  

in the game are kinda now I guess I’m talking back then I actually haven’t updated my online portfolios in a while I need to, but like I said, I’ve been I’ve actually been working there now for three years. So I haven’t really had a need to update a portfolio. But with the game assets I had, I did have that I would have pictures where I’d pulled all the assets out and be like, here’s their background, I’d line up like the sometimes even before final assets you have like variations, showing your thought process of how to get how you went from point A to B can be helpful in portfolios, especially if it’s like a design thing. Like I don’t necessarily think you’d need to show like a like a process video of how you painted something. But people are more interested in how you thought to get there. And I think that’s kind of cool. Like is that I would personally apply it to more like game assets and stuff just because especially with the game I’m working on currently, which is a no mercy. So it’s like a side scroller brawler all my own characters and stuff like that. But that’s where I’d be like, Okay, here’s this character. This is where they started. This is where they ended up. Here’s the world I built around them. People like seeing that stuff. People like seeing the stuff online. into like, there’s nothing that says you can’t pull it apart to show on like your Instagram or something.

Iva Mikles  

And so what was maybe the best thing you learn along the way, kind of like this aha moment, like, if I do this, then all of my, you know, characters environment probes will look better.

Katie Hamill  

The one thing that stands out to me, and I don’t, at least for what I was doing is limiting colors and making sure things repeat and designs, especially when it came to characters. Like, I realized the characters looked more like characters, if they weren’t too busy, I see some characters and they just have so many holes, like I limited myself to three colors a character, actually, I mean, minus like skin tones, and like little accents, but like every single one of the characters of the six I’ve designed for my game, have like two main characters, and like a splash or two main colors, and a splash color. And it really helps keep them unified, I guess, and not look too crazy. Um, same thing with repetitive designs that can be used for just about anything, though, throughout the entire game, there’s actually several repeated designs that I will put on rocks, and work into architecture, and it’s in their clothing. And it’s a small detail, but it helps even items that aren’t remotely related, feel like they belong in the same place. At least I think it does what I was never taught this, it’s just, I think it looks cool.

Iva Mikles  

Because you can relate the characters better to the environment as well. And then it’s also believable, right? That you don’t have everything on top of everything else, when

Katie Hamill  

you got to think about the world they’re in and how it would like reflect them too. So it’s kind of interesting, developing a world and character simultaneously because I can be like, hey, well this is mountains so like what would that mean for their clothing for their tools for their fighting? Like what animals are they going to be fighting? What would their you know, religion is really has the game has quite a bit of like magic and spirituality, I guess in it too. So we’re thinking like, how would they, you know, honor the spirits of the forest here. And like, it’s, it’s cool, I guess in but the more you build a world around even characters, if you’re not building a world, you’re just designing like an OC or like a character and you don’t need to worry about the environment, I’d still say it’s helpful to think about because your character will be better, the more subtle things you can fit on them that tell of a past or their surroundings that you don’t need to shove it in people’s faces. Like people like hunting for things that are cool, I guess. You can

Iva Mikles  

kind of like Heidi does well within the design so they can maybe notice you though the second look like oh, okay, maybe this is how it’s connected to this place. Yeah. Or also

Katie Hamill  

just like character traits, like gloves are a pretty big one I’ve noticed with characters to use like the two exams, I’ll top my head are like, Voltron characters have a lot of gloves, I noticed that everybody was like laughing at Keith’s like fingerless gloves, but it’s because he rides the bike. It’s there like biking gloves. It’s like, well, I have gloves exactly like that. For my dirt bike. It’s just like there. It’s because he works with stuff, or to go way, way back sauce gay from Dart. So everyone would always laugh at his like arm guard things and they’re just like the emo sleeve baggies. But they’re fire protection. They actually exist in real life. It’s for people that work with glassblowing and stuff to protect your hands from the heat, and he uses fire. So things like that, like really taking into consideration like outfit design with what they do is kind of cool, I think.

Iva Mikles  

Before we continue, let’s thank our sponsors again. If you’re looking for a top quality print shop and online store to sell your art prints, then you should definitely check out in print in print has been helping artists print and sell gallery quality prints of their work all over the world for over a decade. Created by artists for artists in print ensures that you as an artist get your artworks printed in a highest quality and you earn the highest percentage compared to the others in the industry. The online gallery@imprint.com is curated by the members, resulting in a beautiful and unique collection of work. So for your favorite artists, discover new ones and start selling through your own gallery today. What is more as an Art Side of Life listener, you will get a special 10% discount with a promo code artside so don’t wait visit artsideoflife.com/imprint and use promo code artside. If you love discovering and trying out new art tools, you should check out art snugs when you subscribe you will get the box of high quality art supplies every month. I have already discovered so many amazing new products Limited Edition tools and exclusive supplies only available to subscribers. I’d say it’s definitely helped me to get more creative and try different art techniques. Every month, there is also artistic challenge where you can share your artworks using only the tools in the monthly books. You also get to join the art sex mix community where you can talk with other artists like you inspire each other and improve together. And because you are part of Art Side of Life community, you will get a special 10% discount with the promo code artside then so don’t wait visit artsideoflife.com/art legs and use a promo code artside and if you’re a digital artist, you will love Astro pad. Astro pad is an app that turns your iPad Pro into professional viral is graphics tablet for your Mac. I use it to work with Photoshop and Illustrator to create highly rendered artworks for my clients directly on my iPad. I was super excited to discover AstroPad because the painting apps available on iPad don’t have all the functionality like Photoshop. With Astro pad, I can use all my favorite and custom made Photoshop brushes, which is super cool. And because you’re part of Art Side of Life community, you will get an exclusive 10% discount on a stupid studio licenses. To get started, go to artsideoflife.com/astro and enter the promo code artside. And now let’s go back to the interview. In when you work with the characters do you start with the with the story or with the character. Or sometimes people start with the environment and then they build the character in the environment.

Katie Hamill  

I personally usually start with a ha That’s hard to say it can kind of go either way. Honestly, I guess usually I designed the character first I’m just drawing I have like an idea in my head. And then I’ll start to think of a backstory and tweak the character for it. But um, sometimes the character, I usually build environments around characters, I guess for me personally, just because I like drawing characters. I like outfit design and clothing and thinking of weird things and then flourishing it beyond that, I guess.

Iva Mikles  

Oh, cool. And if you have some examples you want to show us it’s also a really cool. Oh, boy. If you have something in mind, like okay, let me think about this one. This is like a cool example for that.

Katie Hamill  

So this is actually cool. These are the first sketches of these characters I ever did. So that’s cool. Kind of cool. Actually, I’m curious what the rest of these are. Let me say,

Iva Mikles  

Oh, nice. So this is how you start your your creative process that you do first sketches with some notes.

Katie Hamill  

Yeah, this is literally the very first sketches that existed for this entire game. It’s actually really wild going back and seeing these, especially for how far the games come. But um,

Iva Mikles  

so do you restrict yourself time wise? Like, how much time do you spend maybe on sketches and, like, exploring and how much research and thumbnails do you do?

Katie Hamill  

I don’t really honestly, um, the only time I sometimes restrict myself on time was if I’m doing like figure studies, like specifically finger gesture studies, I’ll do like those websites, off the top of my head, I can’t remember. But if you literally just look up like artistic finger drawing, pose something or whatever. And you can find these sites where they’ll actually time you like a couple minutes for a pose, and then you draw it and go for it. And those are the only time I think I consciously time myself otherwise, it’s just whatever. Yeah, yeah. And

Iva Mikles  

how does the rest of your creative process look like, you know, like, what are maybe the biggest bullet points like you do sketches? And how does it go on from there.

Katie Hamill  

Um, usually after sketching, I start thinking of the colors actually, like my the two biggest things I’m thinking of with any piece is the flow of movement through the piece, which is usually captured in with the sketch and then the colors for the mood I’m after. So usually the next step is to drag them directly into Photoshop, and worry less about like, Oh, I gotta make this picture all like pretty imperfect. It’s more like just throwing color on and like airbrushing and paint bucket and gradient and all the cool color adjustment layers. I use a lot of overlay and Color Dodge layers to get that like really bright glow. That’s in a lot of my work. Actually, yeah, I can open up one. Like this is actually one of my current favorites in usually the more recent one I do is like my current favorites because I keep learning getting better. But like, this was cool because all that is is just overlay of like a pinky orangey color over the yellow and then I used a color dodge and a really dark red and it whoops it’s cool. And then After all the colors are down, I go in and flatten everything together into one piece. And then that’s when I paint and sort of render and smooth things out.

Iva Mikles  

So you can like render out the details and the reflections, right? Yeah, how you go from the first sketch to the more kind of realistic, more believable detail.

Katie Hamill  

Like this picture here is actually her before any painting was done, this was what I got in Photoshop, before I took her into psi to paint. And you can see it’s pretty rough. And there’s just colors, and then a lot of painting. That’s pretty much how all of my pieces are done, I guess.

Iva Mikles  

Super cool. Thank you for sharing. Thanks. And now how does it normally look like for you, when you are working on the work project, and on your personal projects, if you can compare maybe the art creative process, like how much time you spend on the research compared to your personal pieces or other aspects?

Katie Hamill  

Yeah, work definitely has a lot more time behind it. Um, because personal, I’m usually it’s a one off idea, like I’ve got a song that I’m inspired by, and I just draw what I feel and maybe try to learn something new and just go for it. With work working as a concept artist, I’d say the biggest difference is I can’t draw for just me, I have to draw for everybody. So I can’t just have a little scribble that I know what it means I need to draw stuff and communicate stuff in a way that everybody gets it. So and especially just for the scale of the game. It’s a lot of research. Researching, like, ancient architecture is an excellent resource for buildings on like you’ve noticed, even games like you know, Zelda is the first that comes to mind. Their architecture was heavily inspired by like ancient Japanese pottery and stuff. It’s a really interesting place to pull inspiration from especially for environments. So there’s a lot of research I wrote so many Pinterest boards just dedicated to no mercy stuff. And it’s like architecture, it’s plants, it’s clothing, it’s all sorts of stuff. And then communicating that to other peoples probably the biggest challenge of you know, being a concept artist is the presentation. The presentation, you got to Yeah, and I mean, it’s for everybody to like I gathering scenes for the writers, I’m gathering mood environments for the musicians making stuff. So a lot, a lot more stuff goes until the full time work.

Iva Mikles  

Do you also have to present your ideas, I guess also at the workplace, right when you do content, and then you have to, like, share what both were your thoughts?

Katie Hamill  

Yeah. And we’ll have like weekly meetings with everybody, and especially with like the story team and stuff, because where I work, it’s a very small company. So we actually have some external people helping out and we’ve got like internal people, we’ve got like a team of like, five full time. So we’ll have meetings to get together where everybody sort of presents like storytime will be like, Yo, this is what we’re thinking up for missions. And, excuse me, music will be, hey, we’ve got some new stuff to share. And I’ll be like, Yo, I’ve designed bells village and are walking monster. And then everybody just kind of talks and bounce ideas off of each other. Especially as, I guess the concept artists, but also sort of main Art Direction behind everything. I try to listen to what everybody wants to say it’s you will never be able to please everybody. But it’s definitely worthwhile to listen to people’s input, I think. Because people have some really great ideas. And I try to listen to that and merge those in with the game too. I try not to shoot any idea down until it’s just like, oh, this is going to take like six months to model in render. And we’re not doing that. But

Iva Mikles  

yeah, so then you’re trying to align with everyone like, how that works together if the story can be adjusted, or the character can be adjusted, or everyone has the discussion like

Katie Hamill  

oh, yeah, and currently, I think we’re actually currently in a pretty good spot, but not too long ago. It was a bigger, like, battle between story team wrote this, you know, amazing novel, and gameplay. We’re just like guys, we’re making a brawler, and it’s interesting merging like an RPG sort of story and with what is essentially a brawler by levels and so it’s been interesting merging.

Katie Hamill  

Yeah sorry. Oh, sorry. You know, stuff has to be cut. And that’s the unfortunate thing is at the end, working in a large group, it’s about compromising, you truly have to get everyone together to figure out like, Okay, what is truly the most efficient way to reach the end path. Same thing with like writing and editing, you know, right, and then you edit it all down and edit down to just the bare minimum. And that’s really important for games in particular, actually, insanely important for games is scope. It’s something we’re still learning because we’re also young. For example, the game I was making was supposed to be just a 2d side scroller app game, like for like an iPhone, like it was supposed to take, like, three months to make tops. And here we are, like, two years in, and it’s huge. And it’s now for steam. And it’s like, 3d. We got like six characters, and we’re just like, what happens? So, yeah,

Iva Mikles  

but it’s really cool. Like, how you can progress with the idea and how to maybe make it complex as well and more engaging for the audience?

Katie Hamill  

Yeah. It definitely helps to have only a couple people like ultimately in charge, though, like for anybody seriously, considering the indie game world don’t have too many cooks in the kitchen, or your side scroller game will become like the next Halo or something, I don’t know.

Iva Mikles  

Which can be cool as well. But then you need more investment.

Katie Hamill  

10 years down the road, you’ll wonder where you went wrong.

Iva Mikles  

It’s really cool. And is there something we you wish you knew before you started the whole artistic career?

Katie Hamill  

Oh, I wish I would have started earlier, actually. I mean, I think my biggest advice to pass me would have just been I wish I would have taken art more seriously in high school. But art really wasn’t as big of a thing. When I was in high school. I feel like I feel like currently, the Internet was excellent at connecting artists and inspiration and building people up and tutorials and stuff. Like, there’s so much information online now. And when I was in high school, it really wasn’t it was like the baby steps of these artistic communities. So I played WarCraft in high school.

Iva Mikles  

So yeah,

Katie Hamill  

I was just trying to think if there was any, like actual, like worthwhile advice, and I guess know, your worth as an artist. I said, I don’t time myself. But if you are freelancing as an artist, I think the most important thing to do is don’t necessarily try to aggressively make time restraints. But you do want to keep an eye on how long it takes you to make stuff because that’s how ultimately you’re going to price yourself. Running yourself as a business means you can write off a lot of stuff on taxes when you get to that point. Not even kidding. I like Elon Torre is legally its own business. Like I’m just like my sole business provider there are and when taxes come, I have all the business forms, and I fill them out and I get to write off computers and convention travel. And, yeah, learn how to abuse taxes is my advice.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, it’s definitely like good to see what is connected with your creative life. Because it’s like either networking or building your skills. So you can take courses which you can write off as well, or it depends on which country of course. So like whoever is listening, that you need to research your own country where you’re living and how it works there.

Katie Hamill  

That’s a good point. I am obviously from America. So I say abuse our taxes, but you’re somewhere else. Do some research before you abuse the taxes.

Iva Mikles  

Just like a disclaimer, just see, like how it works.

Katie Hamill  

If the IRS comes after you, I’ll tell you to do that. But

Iva Mikles  

Oh, perfect. And yeah, and also if you think about the art career, like we discussed, is there something you know, like you consider as the the most difficult time if you can take us through that story? And like what is the learning from that?

Katie Hamill  

Oh, wow. Um, ironically, the most difficult time for me it was probably not long after I got out of college. People who followed me for all probably know this, but you know, there’s like internet drama and everybody leggings up on people, my grandma and I got like, a whirlwind of that. I’m not gonna go into details, but it was like, it was not fun. But that was like, depression. And that was like, months of depression. It was wild. But that was sort of like when art hit like personal life in real life. And I’d like people like hunting me down in real life. It was really weird, but got through that and kept drawing. I joke that like, Speights one of my motivators for art. It’s kind of true. I draw, because not even just that one incident. You know, like in life you see people be like, Oh, well, you can’t be an artist or that’s going to be like, what are you going to do with an artist or you got I was friends with engineers and In college, and there was one who was just like a jerk and he just be like, Oh, well, you guys have fun, I’m gonna get a real job like absolute jerk. And I, I draw to spite people like that. You guys are my motivations, like I’m going to draw because you told me I cannot. And it’s worked out pretty well so far. But I think just getting over those stereotypes, and just now I feel like a lot of kids draw and fandom communities and fandom communities online can be really toxic and abusive. And getting, I’ve seen it crush, I guess a lot of people who try to draw and then get backlash, be it for you know, the characters or drawing or just the fact that there’s just starting and their art is not that good. I’m glad I wasn’t online when I first started drawing, honestly, because my art was not good. It’s all hiding in my closet. But I didn’t post it online. But sometimes it can be really emotionally just draining to have people come in tear apart something that you’re proud of. And I don’t know, I guess my advice is just, you got to just work through it, honestly, because I don’t know, it’s easy to say other people don’t matter. And you need to just work there and draw for yourself. But easier said than done, unfortunately. But that’s why it’s important to find friends and like little art communities and groups like that. It’s like real life friends, real life draw buddies, are the most important thing you can get as an artist. I’m not even joking, like find someone in real life, who will tear apart your art in the most loving way possible. Like, for me, that’s my friend JJ. She will like she’ll straight up be like, dude, that sucks. What were you thinking? I was just like, okay, but she’s also like, Dude, this is really cool. I like when you do this, and this. And she’s like, the most supportive and wonderful person in the world. But we could just like draw together. And it’s really nice. People like that are hard to find, but definitely worth holding on to. Yeah,

Iva Mikles  

so basically, the biggest takeaway from it, as you mentioned, it’s like finding your like, art related friends as well. They can give you feedback from the point that they actually understand what they are saying or what you are trying to achieve as well. Yeah,

Katie Hamill  

you got to find artistic rocks to stand on in life and hold on to and it’s good.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, definitely, that’s helpful, because it’s motivational and makes you feel good as well, because we are influenced by the people around us the most. So yeah, you better be the good ones.

Katie Hamill  

And then it’s cool. You can bounce ideas off of each other and help each other grow. And it’s great. And even more than just art, like just life. Like just having people like that, as life goes on. It’s great. It’s great.

Iva Mikles  

So how do you do your networking? Or, you know, like, do you go for conventions, as you mentioned? Or do you find your like artistic friends online? Or how the the combination of this?

Katie Hamill  

Oh, wow, um, most of my convention traveling is actually for my game. I go to like Pax. And we actually, like I said host the indie convention. So like Pax GTX TwitchCon. I’ve actually never tabled at like an anime convention. And like, I know a lot of artists network that ways. They’ll have like, artists tables at conventions. I’ve never done that. I guess I should, but I feel like I do so much in like real life. Like I’m so busy with other things. So gaming was a lot of my connections are going to like PACs, and a lot of the parties or after parties or what the real trick is you figure out where all the exhibitors hotel is. And you go to the hotel lobby, I’m not even kidding. You hang out the hotel lobby until you see like, some really, really important like game to walk by and just like hey, then you go like, chat him up. But um I guess advice if you are out networking like that, for some reason, don’t like, hunt people down like people know when they’re being used. My biggest advice for networking is just be a friend to everybody. Like people are fascinating and everybody you meet is doing something so different. And the best way to network is to truly talk with them like ask them what they’re doing and it’s not be like oh hey, you’re doing this and you can help me do this and this be like no, man What can I help you do? And like networking usually works the best if you’re also thinking of what you can give back to them not just how much can you take from them? And networking online is its own beast of a lot of Instagram post but

Iva Mikles  

yeah, so as you mentioned also like the Yeah, the networking in person, like ask what you can help first with and then you can see maybe in the future that can be some collaboration you never know. But yeah, that don’t go first. Like, oh, can I get a job?

Katie Hamill  

Exactly. And people be offended by that. They’ll be like, you know, hey, you know, I’m a person I’m a real person. What are you know, I’m not gonna get you a job. But if you’re just like, hey, like, I don’t know, buddy, can I buy you a drink and then get a job? No.

Iva Mikles  

Because, well, we can cooperate like relationships right? If you start dating someone you don’t ask Brad Be awake and will you marry me or whatever like that Right?

Katie Hamill  

Exactly. And networking is really similar like you show a genuine interest in people and just go places have fun if you are an artist trying to network with other artists, maybe go to artist alley and just like start talking to people. Like I said, my biggest thing is gaming conventions. But I go to the indie game sections of conventions, though, is, you know, I can walk up to like, you know, blizzards table and be like, hello, Blizzard hire me. And they’re just gonna be like, Haha, who does throw me away. But you can go to the indie developers and be like, dude, this was really cool. Like, tell me about what you’re making. And they’re really their indie developers, they’re super excited about what they’re doing and engaging with people like that is what I really liked doing. And then I can get inspiration from what they’re doing. And I can be like, Oh, that’s cool. I mean, you don’t want to walk up and be like, Dude, look at this thing I’m making because obviously, that, but it’s fun. And then you can like talk and maybe down the road be like, hey, you know, when you launch your game, you can, maybe we can promo each other, you know, like, give and take, it’s people are usually pretty down for like collaboration. So

Iva Mikles  

if we think about, like, kind of the income or what do you leave from? Is it mainly your full time job? Or is it also like combination of selling art prints or whether it kind of your legs of the table?

Katie Hamill  

It’s a lot actually, like I said, I work for a full time for an indie game company. So it’s not not a lot, but it’s a fun job. So I’d say my full time job actually probably amounts to less than half of my overall income. I do red bubble, which if you’re selling like fan art and stuff on red bubble, that can do pretty well. The Patreon I’ve been trying to pour a lot of work into lately, turning into more of like a teaching tool. I actually also illustrate for children’s books, which is yet another thing, but the ladies I work with on that are lovely and I really liked that. It’s more like just a really long term thing though. I started that one in college to actually through a really really random connection.

Iva Mikles  

Um, maybe you can tell us that story as well.

Katie Hamill  

Wow. Um, it was literally their nephew was working on a game for their book because it was like a website game for their kids books and he was looking for an artist for his game in the CSC because he was a programmer. So in the CSE boards on Facebook, he was looking for an artist and one of my CSE friends saw that post and was like, Dude, there’s this kid looking for a game artist in the CSE boards, but there’s no artists over there. I don’t know what he’s thinking. You should email him if you want. I was like, okay, so I emailed him and we like got connected that way. And his aunt was the one writing the book. So she called him being like we needed we need an artist for the books, do you know anybody? And he’s like, Well, yeah, we just hired one for the game, you should talk to her. And that was that. And that was also like three years ago, but it just like if my friend had never have seen that post, like I never would have gotten connected with them. So if

Iva Mikles  

you took action to do something, so that’s my

Katie Hamill  

biggest I guess advice for finding things in general is I heard the saying was that there’s no such thing as luck, there’s just opportunity seized or not. And it really pays off to go the extra mile to be at interacting with somebody or going to a convention or you know, hey, this person wants to do this thing it might be worth looking into. And sometimes you know, people just want free work and it’s not in there you kind of have to use your judgment call but a lot of the long term connections I’ve made networking have been from people from college or work projects in the past where they needed help and I helped them and they’ll remember that like you obviously don’t want to do like entire projects for free but if someone just needs some help with a little something and you like them, maybe help them out and down the road they can help you out and you never know.

Iva Mikles  

Exactly yeah and then you were mentioning so if we go back to you know you mentioned that you are selling prints merchandise you do Patreon Was there something else you wanted to mention?

Katie Hamill  

Um, on top of that there is also just random just true freelance like the more one off I’m doing currently some cards for a playing card game company to now the couple of cards which I’m really excited to paint those because it’ll be fun and that’s about it. The biggest ones for me though, are Yeah, Games books, and then the online stuff and with their with their forces combined, I can pay rent.

Iva Mikles  

Good, good. And so yeah, so how does your normal day look like you know, like, is do you have some routine or do you do something you know, which contributes their success something every day

Katie Hamill  

It’s quite busy. Actually, I’m working for an indie game studio, I’m pretty fortunate that I get to wake up later. So I actually work from like 10 or 1030 to like 6pm. So it’s definitely like a later time slot, I’m not a morning person at all. So I work full time, like 10 to six, and then I have to work in the freelance work. So I usually get home around like seven, make dinner, and then I’m working on any contract work I have, or some of my Patreon rewards are physical tears. So I’m working on those. If I stream that night, then basically I have from seven to 10 to eat dinner and try to get all my other stuff done before stream starts for Twitch. And then that can go pretty late. It’s more recent than I’ve actually been trying to make a conscious effort to on the weekends not work. It’s really hard to do that though. Especially when you’re like freelancing, because it’s, there’s always this like running to do list in your mind of I should be working on this. And even sometimes, like I was playing WarCraft the other day, and the entire time I’m playing I was like, really stressed out. I was like, I should be drawing. My friends are like you’ve been drawing for 16 hours just play something. And I was like, But I’m not done. It’s weird. It’s weird.

Iva Mikles  

And how do you plan maybe the week or a month Do you have like, specific to do list, or paper or,

Katie Hamill  

Oh, I write them all down. wonder wonder list is actually an app online I’ve really fallen in love with. It will sort things into as many lists as you want. And you can date them. And then it has like a weekly section and you click it and it pulls all of your data to do list into that week. So I’ve got boards for work, which is more long term things like you know, have all the level designs done here and your characters modeled stuff, I’ve got conventions, keeping track of personal projects, I’ll jot down a lot of ideas. I think I have like a list. That’s just 200 ideas. And some of them make no sense because I like woke up in the middle of the night and I’m like punching and stuff. And I wake up the next day and it’s just like starflower thing, just like, great. Great, what is that? Sometimes they’re less legible than that. But um, it’s a lot of to do lists my sketchbooks turned into like, Have To Do lists to like, I’ve, I need a list. I think I get that from my dad. Actually, my mom said my dad’s kind of the same way. He’s just constantly making list of everything he needs to get done everywhere. But it helps me not forget things.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, and how do you give maybe the inspiration as well for things as he said, like either waking up during the night or when you travel? Maybe do you do some like ideas like okay, this is what I want to do?

Katie Hamill  

Oh, yeah, um, off the bat. Pinterest is honestly fantastic for inspiration. Like sometimes I’ll just go to Pinterest and type in just like random words like just aesthetic words like see pictures are obviously I’m partial to the water in space and a lot of my pictures because I just like it. But um, I Pinterest boards for inspiration. On vacation. I was by like a jellyfish tank in the ocean and stuff a couple of weeks ago, and I was taking pictures of those because I was like, dude, like because they’re just really cool. Music is also really big for me, but I’ll listen to music, I would say every piece I have usually has a song associated with it, at least for me, and I’ll just like, loop something and draw sort of how it makes me feel like the motions or stuff like that. Which is a little more relevant for like character art and interactions I guess than like landscapes. But yeah.

Iva Mikles  

What do you think? Which kind of inspired you the most when you were like growing up? You know, maybe some TV series or games something which is like stuck. Oh, yeah.

Katie Hamill  

Um, I watched like I said, I feel like everyone kind of starts with anime for me it was Naruto actually watched a lot of Naruto. Almost all of my early early like high school art is Fullmetal Alchemist DiNardo but gaming Halo actually stands out to me as one of the first games where I started thinking about more what it took to make that game because like watching anime, I was like, Dude, I can draw that. But then looking at Halo, I mean back in time that was like visually like mind blowing game and now it’s even better. But I was like, there’s like artists that painted this out and like made this and design this and I started doing research on them. And I’d actually say Halo was probably the thing that planted the you could be a game designer seed in my head. And I never really knew if that’s exactly where I’d go in life. My general goal with all of my like, life and General has been just draw like I just want to draw for a living like that. It’s really simple. As long as I’m drawing, I’m content, and it’s led to some really cool things. But in the back of my mind, game background concept artists has been like the biggest. They’re like, what I actually enjoy painting the most, despite all the characters, I paint his landscapes. But it’s kind of hard I feel to build a social media thing with just landscapes because people don’t connect with landscapes as much, I guess. Or maybe I’m just like, maybe I’m just not doing it well enough. Maybe I’ll try

Iva Mikles  

conceiving some or just sort of showing certain moods with your characters, maybe you can have a normal character and then scale it down to the landscape and see what they feel actually in that environment.

Katie Hamill  

Definitely something I need to try because it’s something I enjoy, like bottom line is, as long as you’re enjoying what you’re doing, like, continued to push yourself in every direction you can to grow. But yeah, I guess props to Halo. Yeah.

Iva Mikles  

That girl, girl. And how did you approach the learning when you were like, Okay, I want to be a game designer, do you have some resources of the books or something you really like to learn from?

Katie Hamill  

Um, with game design in particular? No. Like I said, even when I graduated, I wasn’t even sure if I was going to go into game design. I didn’t really research that in particular. Oh, I’m trying to think if there was any. It was just a lot of Googling, honestly, I have the books I have are more for anatomy and stuff. Well, there’s here one right next to me now, actually, that I’ve been looking at that is very interesting. And it’s pretty cool. It’s like, for strolling human anatomy. And I’ve got a couple of books from this. But this one’s cool. Because it isn’t, it’s more most anatomy books will break down like bones and stuff like really hyper realistic. This one focuses more on how I draw, which is more general shapes of movement, and like the flow of stuff anyway. So I would recommend this book, I do have some game concept art, painting books, but honestly, I found the most useful resource for learning like a game, concept art, is YouTube. There’s a lot of very talented artists whose names I could not tell you off the top of my head. But if you literally just go to YouTube and search, time lapse, paint background, or, you know, speed paint background, and look, you will find a lot of really cool things. And like I don’t even track specific artists, I just scroll through and just chuck a bunch of landscapes, I think look pretty into a playlist. And then usually watch them while I’m working on other stuff, because it’s really nice just to have them go. And then if they go over something like really specific I can like posit and zoom in. Live streams are important to not a fair amount of artists live stream more put stuff on YouTube, I feel. Yeah, don’t underestimate YouTube as a source. Because watching watching people paint is how I learned the most honestly, like books. I’m sort of lately been forcing myself to use to try to get better. But when I first started out, I did not have any books really it was, I’d watch anime, and I’d pause the anime and I draw what I saw. Or I’d pull up YouTube and watch someone else draw or I really liked back in the day on DeviantArt, they would have the step by step picture post where it was like, first I did this and then I did this. And then I did this. And those were like my art Bible like that is all like, a lot of my studying came from DeviantART actually growing up. I’m not sure how relevant it’s still is today. But all those old tutorials are still there. Like you can go on to DeviantArt and just type in painting tutorials. And just, there’s just pages and pages of people sharing the little things and tidbits they know. And even if it’s not something you like, look at the water and you’re just like, oh, well, I could paint better than that. Well watch it anyway, because maybe they do something that could change how you work. And then after years and years and years, you’ve accumulated so many tips from all over the internet that it’s great.

Iva Mikles  

Great. Thank you. Perfect. And if you think about the future, what are maybe your, you know, future projects you would love to work on? Or, you know, like your dream scenario, five to 10 years.

Katie Hamill  

Oh, wow. Um, who would like to finish the game I’m working on. That’s a good goal is to have that out. Well, our goal is to have it out over the summer. Realistically, I think we can have that out within the next year. It’s kind of interesting thinking about like a dream scenario because I feel like I’m already kind of late. Living it in a way like my, my dreams are simple. I would I guess like to move to fully working from like, remotely, I guess my dream would be to work entirely from online so I could travel more. Because currently I do have like a physical office that I go into. So I’m have to live here. But down the road, I would like to move to Seattle. And I could go hiking in the mountains and swimming in the ocean and freeze to death and it’d be great. But yeah, I guess my off Sorry, I was just say just to keep getting better at art honestly, like, my goals aren’t really a specific place or studio or location. My goal is just to be the best artist I can be and learn as much as I can before I die.

Iva Mikles  

That’d be my kind of like a follow up thing, like what would you like to be remembered for you knowing like, 100 years.

Katie Hamill  

Um, I guess I gotta think about that, it would be cool to have a game that stays like I want to, I think the game we’re working on is really cool. And even if I moved to more personal projects, I do still think I would work on bigger, more interactive things. Most rewarding, though, I’ve found is teaching other people to draw, like, like I said, is Twitch stream and do some panel talking at conventions and stuff. And it’s really cool, because a lot of my audience is in high school, and they’re aspiring artists, or they want to draw and it’s just, they’re fascinated to see someone you know, older who is doing it. And that, to me is the most rewarding thing. It’s like 100 years down the road when I am dead and buried. I hope the people and kids I’ve like taught are out in the world still making things I guess. That’s I don’t need to be remembered for much. I just want to draw

Iva Mikles  

stuff. That’s really cool. Yeah. And I’m like you, you continue to inspire so many people online and just in your real life as well. And as he mentioned the talk, so that’s awesome. And as before, yeah, before we finish, maybe you can share the last piece of advice or key takeaway, and then we will slowly finish.

Katie Hamill  

Oh, boy pressures on now. Honestly, never just never lose a passion for drawing. Like, I feel like people, the biggest thing my inbox is full of is always I’m Art blocked help, or how do I get inspiration? Or where do you get inspiration? And I guess, art block seems to be the biggest artistic problem in life. And my advice to get through art block is just go to Pinterest, Google pretty things and just draw what you see. Like I’m not even kidding. Like, you don’t have to have some genius stroke of inspiration for some majestic piece, like everything you make doesn’t have to be perfect. Perfect is the enemy of good. And it’s only recently that I’ve really had to try to fight myself to get over that is I’d spent so much time just being like, Oh, I don’t know exactly what to make. Just even really, really experienced artists are making mistakes. Just Yeah, have fun. Have fun with it, honestly, because it is fun.

Iva Mikles  

I definitely agree. Yeah, just make something and just get inspired by everything around you. And just Yeah, and when you do many things, then one would be amazing. If you just do one thing, then you will be like Oh,

Katie Hamill  

exactly, exactly like pulling stuff from everywhere and mashing ideas to like, I’d be like, Dude, I like the skull from this picture. And I like a flowers from that picture. And I like the antlers from that picture and mash them all together and see what happens and just be like cool, or Yeah, that’s what I do.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, perfect. Yeah. That’s really nice. And thank you so much, again for being here.

Katie Hamill  

Thanks for having me. This is fun. These

Iva Mikles  

are super awesome. We get so many inspiration and deep. So thanks again. And thank you. Thanks, everyone who joined today as well, and I’ll see you in the next episode. Hey guys, thank you so much for listening. I really appreciate you being here. You can find all the resources mentioned in this episode at artsideoflife.com. Just type a guest name in the search bar. There is also a couple of free artists resources ready for you on the website as well. So go check it out. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe and leave a review on iTunes or Stitcher so I can region inspire more artists like you. If you want to watch the interviews, head over to artsideoflife.com/youtube. Continue to inspire each other and I will talk to you guys in the next episode. Bye.

Announcer  

Thanks for listening to the Art Side of Life podcast at www.artsideoflife.com

This episode is sponsored by

Hi, I am Iva (rhymes with “viva”). I am an artist, illustrator, founder of Art Side of Life®, and Top Teacher on Skillshare. Since 2009 I've worked as an illustrator, character designer, art director, and branding specialist focusing on illustration, storytelling, concepts, and animation. I believe that we are all creative in infinite numbers of ways, so I've made it my mission to teach you everything I know and help either wake up or develop your creative genius. Learn more about me.

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