Michael Bird is a supervisor at an industrial cleaning firm but his dream is to ditch the cleaning and move into creating art in videogames
Since finishing the Art and Animation course with Train2Game Michael – who is 41 and lives in Kettering – has been on the hunt for a job in games but not had any luck so far. He firmly believes that given the first chance at a studio, he could develop into a great asset for any company.
Michael is from a family of artists, his father is a traditional artist and his mother is a colourist. Michael trained in sculpture and art before moving into video games.
He had a really positive experience with Train2Game and now wants to go professional. He’s now contributing to student studios and also created his own website to show off his work.
‘My name is Michael Bird I am an Artist, Animator. I have spent the last five years or so dedicating my creativeness to the gaming world with the dream of one day being able to work within a gaming studio and help make the games that are yet to come.’
‘I finished my Train2Game course in May last year. I would say that the overall experience with Train2Game was good; they always tried their best to help me with any issues or problem that I may have had. They wouldn’t tell me how to do it instead they would guide me in the right direction so you would end up learning what I needed to know myself, in truth I saw this as a better way to find the solution to whatever it was that I needed help with.’
‘I got into gaming art as a sort of natural progression to being a traditional artist as in using pencil, paints and clay. All my life I have been playing video games, from the modern masterpieces of today right the way back to the originals like Pong and Pac-Man, and everything in-between. It has always plagued my mind as to how it was done; those images that you see on the screen that excite the eye and make you want to play more. How do they do it, how I would love to find out and maybe see if I could do the same. It wasn’t until I got the flyer from Train2Game that I saw my chance to follow the dream of learning how to make what I had seen on the screen. So the opportunity that was presented was taken and I ran with it to a new horizon that has beckoned me for so long.’
‘Working with sculpture, I think that it has helped me immensely as most of the time with gaming art you have to think in three dimensions as you would do when you sculpt. You get to understand movement, structure and how something should look from all sides. It’s like a 360 degree canvas where every point has to look right from every angle. So really what I create within a computer is just a digital version of what I would create in clay.’
‘To create something out of nothing never gets old to me be it stills or animation, they are both as exciting as each other. If a had to choose then it would have to be stills. More to the point of the environment and the props that populate it is it internal or external. . To create a beautiful game you need to create a beautiful environment to play that game in. You could create the best most iconic character in the world with the most stunning and realistic animation ever but if the gaming environment they live in isn’t believable then it will never work.’
‘Both my parents are artists in their own right. My father is a traditional artist where as my mother is more of a colourist. At first they thought I wasn’t serious but as time progressed they began to see that this was something that I craved with every ounce of my being. Sometimes they would say I should get a proper boring job and forget my dream but it never deterred me from this path to my true calling.’
‘I would love to say that my art is my job but unfortunately that is not the case yet. Despite the constant application for art positions within the gaming industry I have so far been unsuccessful in my efforts. All I want and need is that one person to take that chance on me. In the meantime bills have to be paid so I am a supervisor for an industrial cleaning company, but when I’m not working there I’m always creating pieces for my website michaelbird74.com it’s there to showcase my work for any potential employers.’
‘The last piece that I have only just finished was a Private Detective’s Office set in the style of 30’s America. It was more a case of being able to show that can create an interior set piece and fill it with relevant props and create the right mood with the lighting and textures. Since then I have two projects that will be starting on, one will be a Deep Forest Ruins scene and the other will be a Derelict Lighthouse. I haven’t decided which one I will start first so you will just have to wait and see by checking out the Work in Progress on my website.’
‘I think that Train2Game has taught me apart from the skills that I will need to fulfil my dreams, something that I will never stop learning as you can never know everything. Also I would say that they taught me to never give up no matter how hard and stressful it can get, there’s always a way to figure something out and make it better than you thought which in turn makes you better at what you do.’
‘What can I offer a professional studio? That is a difficult question as I could just put the usual things like my skills, my passion for gaming and so forth. In truth all I can offer is myself and what I have learnt from my life experience. How I see the world around me, how I have played so many games in my lifetime that they have all influenced the way I create my art, I have seen how the industry has grown and developed over the years to give me the foundation that has helped me to the stage that I am now. I have followed the way gaming itself has changed with the technology and it has made me realise that I can create anything and everything that I ever thought possible within a game as well as some that I could never have dreamed of. Just to have that power at my fingertips fills me with excitement and a driven determination to be the best gaming artist I can be. That’s what I can offer a professional studio, sounds a bit cheesy I know but it’s the best way I can describe it.’
‘In truth there is no one studio that I would like to work for or with, for me it’s all about creating beautiful game art, be it for a mobile, handheld or a AAA title. When I’m playing a game all I can think about is I really want to be the guy who build that, the guy who will spend hour after hour to get it looking and acting right so it fit the game. I often study the screen to figure out how they did it and see how I would go about creating it.’
‘I would say that my long term aims are to keep creating more and more stunning work, to learn new skills and improve what I already have, To maybe end up being a senior artist within a studio, that would be nice but for a start I just want to get my foot through the door and then see where it takes me. I will never stop doing what I love doing at the end of the day I’m an artist and the desire to create, build, sculpt, paint and draw will only die when I do. Being a videogame artist is where I see myself and I will do everything I possibly can to get there.’
Found out more about Michael’s work at michaelbird74.com