Mat Roff is an Illustrator and Designer from Oxford. Throughout his career, Mat has worked for some of the world's biggest game brands including PlayStation UK and Europe, Sega Europe, SpecialEffect and Bossa Studios. We asked Mat, some key questions about getting into the games sector.
Explain your role like I'm 5 years old
I draw cartoons to make people's products look nice.
Take us through your average day at work
Mornings involve replying to emails and social media, promoting the work that I have coming out, or showcasing new personal artwork. The rest of the day is working on commissions or looking for new work opportunities to keep my workflow steady. I never really sit still.
What was your educational and career journey into your current role?
I came out of school with 4x GCSEs and I never went on to do my A-Levels because we were moving around a lot when I was a teenager. But I found a college in my local town that was doing degree courses under De Montfort University and one was for Graphic Design and Illustration, so I put myself forward and was accepted based on my portfolio and wanting to be on the course.
Since then, I've freelanced as a commercial artist and worked contracted.
What do you love most about your role?
I love working on a range of projects with different types of clients. One week I can be designing a graphic for an events van, the next I can be creating some artwork to appear all over social media to promote the release of a game. I also get to draw the things I enjoy, and that's rare in a lot of jobs.
What's the hardest thing about your role?
The isolation (if you freelance or work alone), long hours, and sometimes having no work at all for months. I work for myself and I have been working full-time as an artist for 5 years, and it can get very lonely at times. You have to rely on yourself to find work, balance your business alongside your day job, such as bookkeeping, emails and general admin, and on occasions, the work you have completed will never be used or seen by anyone if a client changes their mind.
Rejection is a huge part of this job, so you have to learn to look after yourself too.
What key skills should people work on to do your role one day?
Networking. This is a massive part of finding work and keeping the contacts you have.
It's underestimated, but a lot of my jobs come from people I have met at game events, created artwork for to promote in my spare time, or that like my work and have passed me on to someone they know.
So always set time aside to speak to people, offer help where you can, and build a database of people you want to work for or that you could see yourself working for in the future.
What advice would you give to your younger self looking to get started in the industry?
I'd probably tell my younger self to not be so frightened of taking risks in my career.
I've turned down a lot of jobs because I thought I 'couldn't do it' or that I was scared to take a chance on something. Playing it safe doesn't always work, especially when you want to grow or improve.
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?
My friend Mark Hirons runs a podcast, which I have helped out with in the past, called Creative Waffle.
It's aimed at young people, students or creatives trying to break into the industry and alongside designers Millie Jay Powell and Ya'Qub Mir, they interview some the leading graphic artists, motion designers, illustrators, and branding specialists from all over the world.