What it's like to be a Concept Artist: An Interview with Jake Collinge

What it's like to be a Concept Artist: An Interview with Jake Collinge

"Even more important than learning to draw and paint, is passion. Being passionate about the challenges and the inevitable surprises you’ll face in your career is what will ultimately see you through.”


What Makes a great concept artist?

The life of a concept artist is an exciting, creative and extremely rewarding one. It takes commitment, vision, a clear understanding of your role within a studio and lots of passion for the craft.

Great concept artists are self-motivated, open-minded and creative professionals who take creative briefs and ideas - eg. "Our hero should ride a really goth pony" - and bring them to life in the form of breathtaking illustrations.

It’s not all about being the most skilled painter or sketch artist. Concept art is all about imagination and iteration - the ability to make many different versions of the same thing until the best one rises to the top. The images you create will be used to create the mood, personality and style of a film or game project.

You're here to discover what does and does not work as a solution. You become the focus for reference and visual support.”

Jake Collinge, our Head of Concept Design here at CG Spectrum, knows all about what it takes to be successful in this fast-paced industry. Jake’s concepts have been used in games, feature films and television and his credits include Ratchet and Clank, The Adventures of Puss in Boots and Escape from Planet Earth.

Jake believes that it isn’t necessarily just your proficiency with a pencil, paintbrush or stylus that is key to being a successful concept artist; it’s passion.


And, despite almost a decade in the industry, Jake is still striving to learn new skills and master new ways to ensure he’s an asset to every studio he works at. Starting as a 3D modeller and texture artist, then moving on to set and prop design for feature films and television, Jake is now working on a console game release at Mighty Canvas Studios as well as teaching here with us.

Learning a new style of art and new pipeline processes will challenge you and continue to automatically evolve your artistic senses and appreciations. Haven't done cartoony? Time to learn! Need to push your painting skills? Get on it! Learning and being curious keeps us going.”


“A passionate artist is always learning and looking to express their ideas. It's incredibly hard to predict where your artistic future is headed. If you can train hard and always stay humble and curious, you'll be ready for the creative challenges.”

The role of a concept artist

Maybe the most important realisation a concept artist must make, is where they fit in the production pipeline of a project.

“You are the guidance and the fuel for others.”

Everyone in the studio uses concept art for reference. Your art helps animators portray weight and movement, writers to get a sense of mood and actors get a better sense of the character.

“Unless the final product is going to be your original artwork, your work is not the final product. You're here to discover what does and does not work as a solution. You become the focus for reference and visual support.”

It’s also the desire to learn new skills and the opportunity to flex his creative muscles that gets Jake excited about every new project he works on. Concept artists typically work at the front end of the production pipeline, but it always pays to know what work needs to be done to bring your concepts to life.

“A huge aspect that appeals to me is the unknown but inevitable learning potential that comes with each new project.”


Becoming an asset to the studio

In a studio situation, what separates a good artist from a bad one isn’t just their ability to create, but their ability to work with the rest of the production team.

This not only helps you get more work in the future but also gives you a chance to push yourself artistically and appreciate every step in the production pipeline.

“Watching a film like Ratchet and Clank or Escape from Planet Earth grow from rough ideas and take off through the pipeline is very special. Seeing artists further down the pipeline polish concepts into real assets and leap over artistic or technical challenges is often remarkable.”

You are the guidance and the fuel for others.”

Being a part of a positive studio environment can really push your skills forward and shape you as an artist. But every good concept artist needs to know how to be an effective freelancer.

“A good freelance artist is just as skilled at self-motivation, networking and budgeting as they are at drawing and painting.” Jake admitted. “Being your own boss and working your own hours can be extremely liberating. But you need to be focused and hard on yourself if you want to succeed.


Learn more about how you can become a Concept Artist.


Enrol for our Advanced Diploma of Screen and Media with a focus in Concept Design


Learn More


Related links:


Jake's Mentor Page

Jake's Facebook Page



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