Photics Interviews Patricia Heard-Greene

The Unofficial GameSalad TextbookFor The Unofficial GameSalad Textbook, I contacted industry professionals about expert interviews. The book isn’t just some collection of knowledge to be memorized and forgotten. There are life lessons embedded in the pages. That’s why I felt it was important to contact those that have experienced the journey, those that have found success. Patricia Heard-Greene shared her digital imaging story.

Patricia is the Academic Director/Clinical Associate Professor of New York University’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies. At NYU-SCPS, they have a Masters program for Digital Imaging and Design. She brings her 15 years of 3D animation experience to the Center for Advanced Digital Applications. CADA is part of SCPS, where students create impressive 3D animated videos.

I asked Patricia what it was like to work for top companies – such as CBS Sports, Ford, HBO and US Network. I also inquired about life as a 3D Animator. Only a small portion of the interview was used for the book. However, the entire interview is available here.

1) Why did you pick a career in digital imaging? Why not a career as a rock star, a doctor, a mortgage broker or an astronaut?

Corny story of an 8 year old, at the newly released Star Wars film with my father in NYC. I was truly transformed into a world of total make-believe. I did not know what it was called or how it was done, but I did know that I would be making make-believe. I was always very interested in art, hated computers and really had no plans or ideas for what I would do as a job for the rest of my life. This make-believe thing was just a passionate hobby as I got older. I thought drawing, painting and building things out of other things was the perfect mix of art and logic, which is were my head was. I had a guidance counselor in high school that insisted I take an internship in order to graduate since I kept cutting gym. I searched out my internship and fell upon gold. At 18 the universe lead me to a new broadcast graphics company called Telezign that used paintbox graphics and 3D using Alias Wavefront. Coupled with the best designers and post–production facility in NY my ticket was written. I realized I could actually make a career out of my passion. I had no idea what I was in for when my art met technology. The world of make-believe opened up wide and I have not looked back since.

2) How do you get past the challenge of a blank page? In other words, what are your sources for creative inspiration?

Getting past a blank page is always a challenge for any artist in any media. Watching children put things together from a simple uncomplicated perspective has been my base. As we get older we clutter things and forget the simply perfect ways of our younger selves. The logical part of me breaks down my goal into simple visual parts, almost like a written outline. I use lots of reference to make up the pieces until I can see the connections in my minds eye. Once I can get past the logic, the creative is free to flow. This is why this medium works so well for me. The production process really matches my thought process. My sources for creative inspiration are the use of all my visual senses. I look at nature and the life around me. Seeing and touching patterns, colors, depth, investigating how things are naturally made and how they are effected by other things has had a huge impact on what I create and how I think. I will walk around to feel and see life, get back to simple thoughts and the connections begin to spark. It is fascinating!

3) What do you think is the hardest part of your job and how do you overcome it?

The hardest part of a creative field of any kind is visualizing the final outcome and then executing it without losing the essence along the way. The hardest part of my job is to stay true to this process when the design and concept is coming from someone else. It is extremely difficult to “see” what someone else sees in their concept. Since that someone is usually a client or a creative director, I must see exactly what they are visualizing even if they are not able to communicate it. Sometimes it is not clear even to them what the final look will be. Supporting someone’s vision I believe takes trusting yourself creatively and not allowing ego to take over. Letting go of what I would do in a vision and trusting the unknown path of someone is tricky and very hard for logic types like me. The great part is that you never leave your own creativity at the door when working with another artist or client. The dance is hard at first, but then you travel places you never would have gone alone and are able to fill your knowledge while getting to know yourself a bit more. I believe the hardest part of this work is what makes you stronger and clearer in what you want to create next.