A window into a parallel world of amazing digital art and design opened for South Tyneside College students during a masterclass by a talented concept artist.

A window into a parallel world of amazing digital art and design opened for South Tyneside College students during a masterclass by a talented concept artist.

Art-based learners gained expert insight into the fast-growing motion graphics sector from Atomhawk’s Dennis van Kessel Atomhawk, whose clients include WB Games, EA and Xbox Game Studios, has been a leader in motion graphics, tech art and concept art since 2009.

It has offices in Gateshead and Vancouver, Canada, and works with many of the world’s greatest AAA game studios.

Dennis van Kessel from Gateshead graphics company Atomhawk, talks to South Tyneside College art and design students, left to right, Emma Boyd, Jack Gray and Lana Stephenson, about how to get into games graphic design jobs, as part of National Careers Week.

Dennis spent an hour inspiring around 45 students via a discussion of his work and a slide presentation of projects he has worked on – and then fielded questions. His visit, part of National Careers Week, was designed to inspire students by giving them a real understanding of what it takes to create unbelievable art for games. Surprisingly, Dennis does not believe natural talent is the only requirement to a successful career in concept art.

He said:

It is not necessarily down to artistic talent, almost anyone can learn this work, but fundamental art skills are beneficial and a good imagination is important. The skills can be learnt, but people need time to develop and there are very few 18-year-olds who have the right skills to work in this arena. But they can develop them through college, by developing their skills themselves or by taking a concept art course at university. By then, specific skills are required. It’s a very fun sector to work in and one which I can see continuing to grow for at least the next 30 or 40 years, but hard work is needed. A lot of people want to get into this industry but it is very competitive and a lot of people don’t realise just what it takes.

Dennis, who is from the Netherlands, added:

I had a lot of fun at the college, I very much enjoy speaking to young people about what I do. The students were very interested in what I had to say and seemed very keen to learn, the feedback from their questions was good. I hope I helped to inspire them in their learning.

Participants in Dennis’ visit were learners on the college’s NCFE Level 2 Art and Design course, Level 3 Foundation Art and Design, and Extended Diploma in Art and Design. Also taking part were students aged 14 to 16 who are part of the college’s Youth College, which provides added support to youngsters at school.

Claire O’Brien, a lecturer in Creative and Professional Studies, said the college’s art courses offered the perfect springboard into Dennis’ world. She said:

We deliver traditional learning in art and design and we also teach students how to use industry software graphics tools such as Adobe Photoshop, using a Wacom Tablet and similar specific skills to support their career ambitions. South Tyneside College really is a fantastic place to gain a very insightful understanding of traditional art and also of digital art. I’m very grateful to Dennis for giving his time to speak to our students, they found his presentation very inspiring and insightful. I hope it has helped to focus their minds on the hard work they must put in to work in this field and see the results they might achieve.

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