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Meet David Graham, 3D Concept Art Designer

Today we’d like to introduce you to David Graham.

David, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I’m currently a key artist in the entertainment industry. My day to day activity involves designing key art for theatrical/tv posters, but I also have a passion for concept art and 3D art. In a nutshell, I love bringing interesting ideas to life visually. My tools of choice are Photoshop, my camera, Maya, ZBrush, and a sketchbook to jot down any random ideas that may come to me throughout the day. Aside from creating art, I like to listen to audiobooks in LA traffic, adventure around town, travel the world, collect “Art of” books and interesting objects, and spend as much time as I can with my wife and daughter.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I started in the entertainment industry about ten years ago, when a friend called me up and asked if I needed a job, it mainly involved designing corrugated displays to sell DVDs and Blu-Rays. From the beginning, I understood that this field probably wouldn’t have a long lifespan, because streaming was the future, so I invested my time in creating a backup plan. This included learning matte painting, concept art, and 3D design, in the hopes that it would pay off one day, and land me another job.

About two years ago, another buddy called me up, encouraging me to work on key art, so I combined everything I learned up until that point, to start building up my book. I realized that this was an area that I had a great passion in. I began investing my time in my work while keeping a healthy and supportive social network. When getting started in a new field, it really pays off to surround yourself with positive people who will uplift and encourage you, when you’re feeling like your work sucks.

My wife is my biggest fan and although she may not know much about art, she’s the most important person when it comes to my success because she keeps me going and kicks me in the butt when I want to quit.

I also learned that you can’t just pick up a tool and master it instantly. So much experience, education (and even one’s perceived disability) go into the strokes of mastering a particular art or skill set. Don’t feel like quitting because you are not at a particular level. Embrace your level! We’re all gifted, with different skills and talents, and we use them and hone them every day. Embrace who you are, and produce interesting stuff that sets you apart. For instance, I’m dyslexic, I’ve been seeing life differently (which may be a perceived disability, as mentioned above) and yet still accomplishing tasks, for as long as I can remember.

When I approach a design challenge, I’m proud of the fact that most of my ideas don’t usually match up with the norm. And to be honest, a lot of my ideas fall flat, but the ones that actually land, have set me apart from the pack. Lastly, don’t be afraid to go for it, reframe your thinking from negative to positive surrounding yourself with that energy, and embrace all of your perceived deficits, as something that’s advantageous and sets you apart from everyone else.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
The past several months, I was going on interviews and was fortunate enough to have been contacted by a Key Art agency in Culver City. I interviewed and was offered a full-time position the same day, which is extremely rare in this industry. Agencies don’t typically hire an unknown artist, without having tested them as a freelancer first. I can’t really say if it was my portfolio or simply, good timing/luck. Whatever it was, I was fortunate enough to have been brought on, and I am now employed full time, doing what I love.

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