Anna Hollinrake is an art director, illustrator, BAFTA Breakthrough Brit and currently works as Principal Artist at Mediatonic Games. Anna has worked on an array of titles such as Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion, Lola and the Giant, Magic: Duels, Arca's Path VR and Apart of Me. We asked Anna, some key questions about getting into the games sector.
Explain your role like I'm 5 years old
I figure out what the art style of new game ideas are going to look like, and use drawing and painting apps on my computer to make that a reality!
Take us through your average day at work
It'll almost always kick off with a daily meeting with my pitch team - but what we could be focusing on changes from day-to-day! We're usually going through the process of reviewing new game pitches or ironing out design details, which always leads into the art push that involves getting a pitch deck together! My primary responsibility is figuring out the art styles of new pitches, so I'll be putting together moodboards, doing initial idea sketches and paintings, and working with other artists to capture the correct 'branding' with logos and PowerPoint presentation layouts. It's incredibly varied and a huge amount of fun!
What was your educational and career journey into your current role?
I always loved technology, and I would endlessly create alongside that. Writing, drawing, playing music - I couldn't stop. However, once I discovered digital painting, everything fell into place - it had the perfect mix of art, creativity, tech and endless exploration. I was hooked.
What is the most rewarding thing about your role?
Collaboration and creative conversation - there's a lot of talking through problems and bouncing ideas off of each other. I do my best work with others, and riffing off something someone has said and landing on an idea that absolutely fits with the project is a magical feeling - especially if you both realise it at the same time.
What's the hardest thing about your role?
Trusting that you're making the right decision. Because pitches are small in scope, and often created quite quickly, you have to be able to *know* how things are going to look, often very intuitively, because having lots of pre-production time isn't really a factor. I absolutely love the tangible pull of an idea unspooling from my brain and finding itself realised on the Photoshop screen, but when it's not 'clicking' just yet, the fear is very real!
What key skills should people work on to do your role one day?
At its core - artistic fundamentals. A good understanding of perspective, form, light, colour, as well as an interest in learning new things. I've got an approximate knowledge of many things spanning different areas of game art, which absolutely helps when it comes to making tech-related decisions on the go. I'm also interested in design and folding that back into art styles, so it helps to find design and narrative appealing as well! However, through and through, an interest in rapidly creating artistic ideas and executing those ideas well is most valuable.
What advice would you give to your younger self looking to get started in the industry?
Don't rush it. Unplannable life experiences will inform your work far beyond what you can expect. Travel more and trust that it'll give you inspiration beyond what you can find online. Don't work so hard - you're not really working anyway (just feeling bad about procrastinating!), and it hurts your hands being on the PC for so long.
Do you have any links to good articles or videos that you think might give some tips or advice to someone starting in your role?
There are swathes of artists on YouTube sharing tips and tricks, as well as trusty physical magazines such as ImagineFX that have provided me with so much guidance over the years. There's never been a better time to work on your art!
In terms of gesture drawing, this video was absolutely instrumental in shaping my process:
And in terms of design, this video helped me focus on what really mattered in both art and design, which is 'where does the game reside: