So how did I become a designer? It's a good question, one that I would've loved to know the answer for a couple of years ago when I was working freelance (which was a nicer way to say I was unemployed). I had no design experience or portfolio and any cheeky attempts to apply to companies as a designer resulted in building my impressive collection of rejection letters.
And all I wanted to be all along was an actor. Nothing too fancy. I didn't want to be a Tom Cruise or a Jack Nicholson. Just win a little Oscar for a surprise underdog hit, follow it up with a few flops including a Batman movie and die young of drugs overdose. So I did a foundation course in LAMDA in London, but after not being accepted to either of the two three year courses I applied to (a blessing in disguise if there ever was one), I had to find a different direction.
At the time I was busy making little animated GIF series called "Claris the Stick Girl"(still available on the Cheese Comics website) which garnered a dedicated fan following including an entire unit of Marines! So Animation was the most sensible thing to fall on, so it seemed.
After doing a foundation course in 3D animation and then a BA degree in The Surrey Institute of Art and Design I started looking for work as an animator. I sent letters to more than a hundred companies. Only a handful asked me to send them my showreel. None called me for an interview.
There's nothing like being unwillingly unemployed to make you feel utterly and totally worthless. Over the next couple of years I did get some work. I worked on a book and video project aimed at children with Down Syndrome, a couple of educational DVDs for The Dental Channel and also a very enjoyable stint on Time Commanders, a TV gameshow based on the game Rome: Total War. But that wasn't good enough. There were too many gaps of nothing in between those jobs.
That's when it started dawning on me slowly: I just didn't love animation. I liked it, but I didn't love it. That's why my showreel, while been colourful and professional, missed the edge it needed to shine above the intensely tight competition. I still looked for animation jobs, but I also started actively looking for design jobs, having little idea of what it really means to be a game designer at the time.
So I needed to do research. I started scouring the internet vigorously and bought a few books. That's when things started coming together slowly, not that I noticed it back then.
To be continued,
Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5