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Life & Work with Patrick Ward

Today we’d like to introduce you to Patrick Ward.

Hi Patrick, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I’m originally from Allentown, Pennsylvania and grew up in a family that loved sports and encouraged being creative. Both my parents had careers in the arts. My mother, a graphic artist and my dad, a jewelry designer. I could not ask for better parents and all the special things that have happened in my life are a reflection of them. They instilled the motto that I still feel strongly about everyday and that is “be the best that you can be.” I hope one day to be to my children half as good as parents as they were to me.

Like a lot of kids growing up in the 90’s, I loved playing video games and watching movies. Lord of the Rings and Star Wars had a huge influence on me and Donkey Kong Country, Shadow of Colossus, Mass Effect and other open-world RPGs were games that inspired me. Often times I’d come home from school and write my own ideas for stories and characters that existed in game worlds that I wanted to create one day. I’d spend a lot of free time going through loose leaf paper, jotting down ideas and bring these game worlds to life in my imagination.

While in community college, that’s when I was first exposed to 3d software. From that moment on, I was hooked and was obsessed with learning more about 3d modeling and experimenting with my own projects. I owe so much to Northampton Community College in Bethlehem, PA and the teachers there that were patient with me and introduced me to 3D. I had received my associate’s degree from there in 2014.

Throughout my time in community college, I worked a lot of odd jobs in the summertime at various factories and industrial labor-related jobs, My goal was to continue my education and attend a four year school and I was saving money for the day that I would hopefully move out and do so.

I applied to schools in California where the film and game industries existed. I was drawn to the name and program of one school in particular, Otis College of Art and Design. August 2015 is when I came to Los Angeles for the first time. I remember arriving to Los Angeles, never being on a plane before and anticipating where I was going and all the new things I’d see.

I spent three wonderful years at Otis where I had the chance to prove myself. I made it a point to not let that day go to waste. I was always in the computer labs working on projects and to support myself financially I was first a librarian, then a teacher’s assistant, and 3D tutor. Whether it was tutoring students at any time of the day or aiding them with software questions during their classes, I tried my best to make myself available to them. Otis has given me everything I could have asked for in an education and throughout my life, I will represent the school the best I can.

I had graduated in 2018 and I got my first job in the videogame industry as an associate 3D Environment Artist for Nexon OC where I was very grateful to learn under some very talented artists. I was there for nine months until joining Xbox Game Studio’s The Initiative to work on the new Perfect Dark Remake. I completed my contract there for a year and a half before arriving at my current workplace, Santa Monica Studio.

I’m very fortunate to have had the experience of living and working in Southern California and take nothing for granted. I’m very blessed to be here and look forward to the future ahead.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
The path that we take throughout life is not always straight and linear and often a meandering road that’s full of uncertainty. Mine and many others have been that way but what I am certain about is that when you commit to your passion and not let anything or anyone become a distraction, only good things will come from it. To pursue a career as an artist means that for a period of time, your art must be the only love in your life… It demands it. It was that way when I was a student at Otis College of Art and Design.

I was very focused when I was a student and I spent as much time as I could in the computer labs working on projects. I made it a point to always be trying to better myself and use my time as best as I could on what was important. Financially staying out in Los Angeles was a struggle and an obstacle for me was not having the most comfortable living situation. I couldn’t afford paying for a room in an apartment, so each year I slept on a different friend’s floor and paid what amount I could. I look back at that time and it makes me appreciate what I have now.

I believe it’s more than appropriate to mention this. My parents have had a huge influence on my life and they instilled compassion in my two brothers and I. Growing up, my grandmother lived in our house and she was the first person you saw when you entered the home. She was bedridden and my mom took care of her while raising a family of her own and a career as a graphic designer. My mom would come home during her lunch hours to take care of my grandmother and then go back to work. Nurses would visit the house also and monitor her health. All parents make sacrifices for those they love and we as a family witnessed it everyday. My brothers and I learned that compassion from seeing our mother take care of her everyday.

My grandmother passed away two weeks before I was to attend my first year at Otis. At that time, I was still trying to get a student loan to attend my first year. I was not able to qualify on my own. I had resigned myself to the fact that I may not be attending school that year. After my grandmother’s funeral, I was approached by a family friend who had known my mom for years…

I would have never had the opportunity to continue my education and come to LA if not for this incredibly special person who offered to help cosign a loan for me for my first year of college. I could not do it on my own and a paragraph cannot express how grateful I am to her and the opportunity that she allowed me to experience.

All the kindness that others have shown to me has only made me want to do right by them. Truly, I would not be here writing these words if not for the many angels that I’ve met throughout my life back in Pennsylvania and here in the City of Angels.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I’m a 3D Environment Artist in the Videogame Industry. I focus on telling a story through the usage of 3d assets, lighting, and background design. I love sculpting in zbrush and I have a passion for storytelling, geography, history, and world culture. I always try to inject the passion of my interests in the work that I do. In my personal work, I try to focus on subject matters and cultures not always represented in a 3D medium. My goal is to bring rich, exotic and distant settings to life the best that I can

Do you have any advice for those looking to network or find a mentor?
My advice is to find other artists and professionals whose work you find admirable and try to communicate with them through email or LinkedIn. I would look to contact someone that’s creating artwork or a part of projects you want to be a part of. One of the most important things for a young artist to do is to continue creating personal work and keep developing your portfolio so that when you apply to the studio that you really want to get into, that you have your most current, relevant work available.

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