Saturday, October 18, 2008

Brett McEwen

Graduating Year: 1993

Occupation: TV production


What are you up to now?
I am working doing freelance TV production.

How did you end up there?
I tried freelancing as an illustrator, but the isolation didn't suit my personality so I started doing photography. After a couple of years I landed a contract doing product shots for a sporting goods retailer. As they started to do television advertising I thought that it looked like fun so I taught myself Maya, After Effects, and Final Cut. When an opportunity arose, I was poised to step in and have been doing TV ever since.

Has art school contributed to where you have found yourself today?
Absolutely, without art school I would be digging ditches.

Is there anything you learned from attending art school that you  
apply in your current situation?
Yeah, a lot of stuff actually. Composition, drawing, painting etc. I draw on these skills on a daily basis. Also the sheer effort it took to make it through VC got me used to working long hours. It took a huge effort working evenings and weekends to learn the skills necessary for TV production.

What inspires you now?
I get inspired by looking at the careers of successful individuals like Robert Rodriguez (Once upon a time in Mexico) and Kevin Smith (Clerks, Dogma). These guys just went out and took risks and made movies on their own terms and ended up with big Hollywood careers.

What inspired you in art college?
Successful illustrators like Gary Kelly and Doug Fraser.

Any advice or words of wisdom to students?
Get started immediately on your projects and be careful that you don't waste too much time trying to come up with the idea of the century. It's important to leave yourself enough time to produce. The last thing you want is to be pulling an all-nighter just to get finished, this is the path to burnout.

Any advice or words of wisdom to graduating students?
Procrastination is your enemy. Simply by creating a portfolio and knocking on doors you will find work of some sort. Ignore negative people. Ignore your fears, if you feel fear that means you are making the right moves. Don't think too much about the big picture, break it down into small steps and just accomplish one task after the other, you'll get there.

Is there anything you would do differently if you were in art school  
Relax and not try so hard.

How did your perception of the real world change after art college?
I tried to do a few different things without success. I learned that I was choosing a path solely on doing what I enjoyed, once I learned to focus on a vocation for which there was a demand things took off. The demand for photography is much bigger than for illustration, but I found that the type of work I was getting was kind of boring so I picked something that was both creatively more interesting and a growth industry and had some success.

What were some of the difficulties you faced when you got out of art  
Complete lack of business skills. VC and photography should be 20 percent business. Photographers and illustrators cannot survive without knowing how to run a business.

Did you do any further schooling after art college?
I spend a lot of time doing tutorials that I purchase from Digital Tutors and The Gnomon Workshop, to expand my expertise with Maya and After Effects.

Any memories, anecdotes of art school you can share?

Anything you miss about art school?
I miss the camaraderie. I had a lot more fun in art school than I have working.

What were your goals or dreams when you left college? Were they  realized, changed, how?
Oddly enough I wanted to do effects for the movies, I never bothered to pursue that because computers were outside my sphere of experience and I couldn't afford to do more schooling. (I wanted to go to Art Center, and be Syd Mead but I didn't have a spare $150,000) But eventually computers and software came down in price to where I was able to purchase a system of my own and now in a small way I am doing what I originally wanted to do.

Any Final Thoughts?
Most of what I have accomplished was driven by personal work, a few years ago I set out to make a war documentary and the skills I learned in trying to accomplish that are the skills I use to make a living now.