Womenize! Wednesday Weekly is our weekly series featuring inspirational women from games and tech. For this edition we talked to Anna Hollinrake, Principal Artist at Mediatonic. Read more about Anna in this interview:
Hi Anna! You work as a Principal Artist at Mediatonic and have gathered years of experience as an artist in game development and television even before that. Could you tell us a bit more about why you chose to work in games, and your journey towards your current job?

It has long been impossible to separate me from three things: art, making things and tech. Once I discovered digital art I knew I was a goner; as a teenager I had to be pried off the computer with a crowbar. I first pursued games because they were the medium in which I could make digital art most easily (as well as having enjoyed them very much as a kid). However, over time I realised a little more about myself – I love the broad brushstrokes of worldbuilding and mood-setting in games, and I also wanted to be on the forefront of new technologies. Games is still a very young medium that is figuring out the rules as the industry grows, and that’s an incredibly exciting place to be in.

In terms of my journey toward my current job, I pushed for the things I really cared about and said yes to things that scared me. I studied Game Art at De Montfort University and began my career as a generalist artist, before getting my teeth into a much-loved project in which I was able to concept for large swathes of the game. A lot of opportunities for things I was interested but intimidated by popped up in a distinctly butterfly-effect way – taking part in social media events led to meeting people that would invite me to sell at comic cons, and my presence in those locations led to invites to speak at events. One thing snowballed into another especially after being named a BAFTA Breakthrough Brit, as I repeatedly found opportunities to jump in with both feet; art directing games, moving into TV animation and art directing a TV show, leading international teams, and now leading the art side of pitches at Mediatonic.

What does a typical work day in your life look like (if there is such thing as a “typical” day)? Can it sometimes be difficult to be creative on an everyday basis?

A typical day really varies for me depending on projects and upcoming events. If we’re making a pitch deck then it’ll often feature a lot of time spent concepting and giving feedback to other artists, and being in meetings to review how the slides are taking shape. I also do a lot of work in outreach – planning talks and breakdowns of pitch processes. It’s a lot of fun having to make very rapid fire decisions across hugely different art styles, all the while making sure the choices are consistent with the game mood, themes, and technical limitations. As I’m more on the business side and not in a traditional dev team, it’s a much more reactive role that requires a steady eye on what the rest of the industry is up to!

As it absolutely can be difficult to be consistently creative, I (thankfully) really enjoy management and organisation almost as much as art, and that gives me the mental breathing room to focus on spreadsheets whilst I let the creative side of me recover. I work directly with design, which often involves talking out issues rather than purely drawing them to solve them, so that gives me a lot of variety as I get to problem solve in a whole host of ways. I’ve learned my patterns of productivity, too. Never schedule anything that involves a lot of thinking after 4.30pm!

What advice would you give to artists aspiring a career in games who might not feel as confident in their art, or who might not know how to take the first step towards their dream job?

Put your work out there and connect with fellow artists and developers looking to get into games – in your community or online. Your peers are your best ally for helping you toward your first job – a rising tide lifts all boats and my biggest help has always been the groups of friends I’ve had around me to give me guidance or put my name forward. Be diligent and hard working on the things that bring you joy, learn and study with intention, keep on pushing. It’s a persistence game – it just takes smartly applied time and effort.

Thanks for letting us gain an insight into your experiences, Anna!

Links: Anna’s Website | Mediatonic’s Website | Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout on Steam 

WWW Feature by Jessica Hackenbroch