When Susan and I first talked about my writing an entry for her blog, I had trouble figuring out what I wanted to write about, since I was currently juggling different specialties in the graphics industry. Then it dawned on me. THAT’S what I should write about- the necessary ability to reinvent yourself as an artist when need be, as well as juggling those different skills to continue to get work and stay relevant in today’s market.
I majored in illustration when I was in college and planned on being an illustrator in the workforce. After school, I looked to an industry that had provided me so much entertainment in my youth- comic books. So I focused mostly on comic book illustration and was making a reputation for myself when that industry suddenly had a major downturn in the ‘90s. It was a shock to me that after all my hard work (preparing samples for editors, meeting with them for feedback and advice, finally receiving work from some of them), I’d find myself in an industry that could barely keep the veterans employed, much less an up-and-comer like myself. I was naive then, what can I tell you? It took a while to figure out that I needed to go in another direction with my graphics career. Eventually, I settled into web design because it seemed like there was tons of work in that field. I bet you know where this is going, don’t you…
So, I switched gears and was hired by an internet company as part of their graphics department. It was a good company, with management that actually cared about their employees and rewarded them whenever they could. So what could possibly go wrong, you ask? Remember the timing- this was the year 2000. Remember what happened to all those internet companies back then? A ton of them went out of business during the dot com crash. I actually came back from a vacation, only to find my company gone. I mean, actually ‘gone’. No lights on, no people…
As you can guess, I had difficulty finding work in web design after that gig dried up, due to the circumstances. So, I was forced to reinvent myself yet again, this time being introduced to the world of 3D modeling and rendering. An old friend and colleague showed me the software he was working in and I fell in love with it. I would never have thought I’d take to something where I’d be creating art entirely on the computer, since virtually all my education in school took place before computers took over. Yeah, I’m old- want to make something of it? I loved it so much, it wasn’t long before I was able to start using it professionally, even given the extensive learning curve involved in that type of software. I started bringing in freelance work from companies who needed photorealistic renderings of products that either didn’t yet exist or were too expensive to photograph. After several years of working in that industry, the economy tanked in 2008 (I’m sure you all heard something about that!) and most of my 3D clients dried up. So I turned to storyboarding, logo design and private commissions to bring in work. Essentially, nothing was off-limits, as long as it was related to the graphic arts and I could deliver to the client.
Point is, I’ve had to wear a lot of different hats to stay in the graphics industry, and in doing so, I’ve greatly diversified my skill set. These days, most of my work comes from 3D graphics and illustration (mostly comic book work), so I’ve come full circle, I suppose. Of all the disciplines I worked in, those two are my favorites, so I’m a pretty happy duck right now. I’m still always learning new skills and tricks, even after more than 20 years in the field. In fact, I’ve recently taken the leap into self-publishing; I teamed up with an old friend to create a crime fiction comic mini-series called Dead Man’s Party. Here’s how we describe it:
It’s called a Dead Man’s Party: an assassin puts a contract out on his own head and a select group of peers have thirty days to fulfill it. For the world-renowned hitman known only as ‘Ghost,’ ordering a Party is a last resort, a way to go out on his terms, at the top of his game. The invitations are sent, the killers are coming… And that’s when things go horribly wrong.
Publishing my own book and getting to illustrate my own creative property has long been a dream of mine, and I’m very excited about the press we’ve been getting about it. Don’t believe me? Check it out at www.DeadMansParty.org, where we post previews of the books, as well as reviews from critics. So if you’re looking for any type of advice regarding a career in graphics, I’d say this: It’s extremely rewarding being able to utilize your creativity (whether that’s in drawing, painting, web design, basket weaving, etc.), but it’s a career you REALLY have to want, because it can sometimes be a rough road, I’m not going to lie. But I’ll also say this- there is nothing else I’d rather do in this world than create. I’m happiest when I’m drawing, painting or modeling something in 3D. As for artistic techniques I use in, say, creating my comic book work, I’m not afraid to do a ton of research and find reference material to work from, and I’ve developed my painting style from a classic graphic arts education. What I mean by that is, if you want to draw comic books, learn to draw the real world first. Don’t just look at comic books to learn how to draw them.
In his professional career, Scott Barnett has been an illustrator, designer, storyboard artist and 3D modeler/animator. He and his wife live in New Jersey. His work can be viewed at the above mentioned www.DeadMansParty.org and www.ScottBarnettGraphics.com, as well as on Facebook and deviantArt.