Before becoming a VANAS student I was completely self-taught. While growing up I was always artistic, but my earliest and vivid memory where I knew art was something I wanted to learn was when I was about 8 years old, tracing Super Mario characters from the old Nintendo Power magazines my brother had. Being a gamer, and quite nerdy, I naturally transitioned into drawing more Anime and Comic Book style characters.
Been a self-taught artist, I would regularly pass opportunities to nurture my artistic potential because I always felt I didn't have the skill. I was proud of how far I had gotten on my own but had no idea how to go about submitting artwork to anyone, let alone feeling confident in my skills to do so. One night we had a couple over, friends of ours, and they happened to stumble on my art cubby, and some drawings I had recently done. They said I was so talented, that to NOT do anything with it would be a waste, which was absolutely right! About a week later I sent my drawings to VANAS, applying for a scholarship to the Concept Art Diploma course.
The biggest thing that helped me was that VANAS' Concept Art Diploma course gave me the confidence, and skills to create that confidence, in my artwork. The teachers all had such a passion, and knowledge behind that, which translated so well in the classes held. This created an awesome learning environment to gain the confidence any artist should have in themselves and their creativity.
I remember thinking in the first semester that the exercises were easy, and I didn't understand why we were spending so long on some of the topics. Fast forward to the last semester, and TRUST ME, you will be so grateful that the first semester spent so long on those exercises, because you end up utilizing them all the time, in all types of assignments throughout the course!
I've definitely developed a more keen eye for detail. It's not enough for me anymore to just add the basic values and colors, I now look at color wheels, textures, locations, everything and anything that I think could really add the proper depth and mood to what I'm creating. I feel with the knowledge and skills I learned, it actually helped my imagination expand much more too! What I draw is broader now, not just focused on Character design.
I absolutely loved review classes with Todd Marshall. I call him the Bob Ross of VANAS because he just injects this pure joy, and raw imagination into how he guides you through the assignments. I also learned so much from my assignment classes with Adrian Enciso in the way of technical Photoshop capabilities. Coming from someone who never used Photoshop, coming out on the other side with a strong knowledge of it is so rewarding. I will definitely miss my teachers!!!
Overall, applying for the Concept Art Diploma was the best thing I have done in my life; for myself, and for my artwork. I'm excited to see where my new set of skills will take me, and I'm grateful for VANAS having flexibility in-class hours. I was able to complete the Diploma course with high grades, and graduate with the ability to hand out a robust portfolio, all while working a full-time job.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.