Stylised artwork inspired by Japanese pop culture has landed Blair Armitage her dream job with the video game studio behind one of the most played PC games in the world.
The 2012 Game Art graduate from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) is working as a 3D character artist at Riot Games in Los Angeles, the developers of internationally-acclaimed League of Legends.
"I create 3D characters based on concept art and I get to work with animators, tech artists and concept artists to deliver player-resonant characters," said the 28-year-old from Cleckheaton in Yorkshire.
"I'm only four months into the job so I'm still in the phase where I'm trying to prove myself. Just going in every day and working with people who I respect is such an honour.
"Coming to America feels like a once-in-a-lifetime thing – the culmination of everything I've been working towards and a really great experience."
Blair decided to apply for jobs in LA after her boyfriend Al Crutchley, also a DMU Game Art graduate, was offered a position at Blizzard Entertainment, the studio behind the hugely popular World of Warcraft.
She said: "Al had been working freelance for Blizzard Entertainment for a while before they asked him to be part of the team in LA. I didn't want to join him on a spouse visa as that wouldn't allow me to work, so I knew I needed to find my own sponsorship.
"I chose to interview at Riot Games because they focus on stylised characters instead of photo realism, which is a style of art I enjoy. I feel really lucky because there are only a few studios in the world that specialise in it."
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Blair admits that back in 2009, moving to Leicester to study at DMU felt like a big step.
"There are a limited number of universities that do Game Art and DMU was the best option for me, even though it felt like such a long way from home at first," she said.
"Moving away definitely prepared me for the nature of the industry though. You can be successful working freelance, but I thrive in a studio environment, so every job I've taken has meant I've had to move to a new place."
Blair's first job at Frontier Developments saw her relocate to Cambridge and she then moved to Leamington Spa to take up a role at Playground Games. She and Al also spent a year working freelance in Tokyo, Japan.
She said: "We met a lot of people from all over the wold who worked in the industry. It was great to talk to them about their experiences.
"Also, having always loved Japanese pop culture like manga and anime, it was exciting to experience it first-hand.”
The biggest lesson Blair learned at DMU was the importance of being self-motivated.
“You’re expected to do a lot of drawing and sculpting in your own time, which is really shocking at first, but you soon realise that if you don’t put the time in you won’t get anywhere,” she said.
“That mentality is something that you need your entire career. You can’t get complacent or your knowledge of the latest software and your skills will really suffer, making it harder to find jobs or get freelance work.
“Game Art at DMU is great at teaching you the fundamental skills and introducing you to all the relevant software. Everything is to industry standard and you can’t put a value on the amazing community and friends you make.”
Posted on Thursday 8th March 2018