Industry Workshops 2014: The First of Many
The first of its kind in the UK, Industry Workshops saw the pros getting down and dirty with the amateurs, teaching digital arts of all kinds. But was it any good?(Yes, yes it was!)
The first of its kind in the UK, Industry Workshops saw the pros getting down and dirty with the amateurs, teaching digital arts of all kinds. But was it any good?
(Yes, yes it was!)
Created by industry professionals to emulate the workshop events predominantly held in the US, Industry Workshops recently took over a couple of buildings in London's Hoxton Square to teach up-and-coming digital artists all about the business.
How to draw, how to pitch, how to be more creative, even how to get a job, were all talked about at length and with interviews being held at the event, some people are sure to have left with a new career in front of them. Oh, and there was free coffee. Can't forget to mention that excellent addition.
Get together a few hundred aspiring digital artists, a dozen or so pros from the business, a couple of buildings, and a hell of a lot of technical setup, and what do you get? A good weekend, apparently. Though they decided to call it 'Industry Workshops' instead it's probably a catchier name.
Possibly the first workshop event of this size maybe even of any kind in the UK, Industry Workshops was held over the last weekend of August and, not to jump the gun too much here, was a resounding success. The organizers are already planning for next year's event, and after experiencing it first-hand, we can see why...
Rooms crammed with eager, learning artists being fed the secrets of the industry they all want to break into? Check. Wonderful, creative artwork being hand-made right in front of everyone's eyes? Check. Being told how to actually do what's being shown? Double check! Pretty much everyone we spoke to was impressed with the event as a whole.
It wasn't just the amateurs learning from the pros; many of the pros were looking forward to seeing their
contemporaries lecturing, too! © Industry workshop
Dave Neale is a freelance illustrator and concept artist, and was one of the first people to host a talk during Industry Workshops. "It was a weird one," he says, "I've never done anything like this before so didn't know what to expect."
Neale continues: "Whenever I watch tutorials, there's only one or two bits that are ever relevant or that sink in. Obviously there's loads of information but you can't absorb it all, so I only ever take one or two useful bits and if people have taken one or two useful bits out of it, I think I've done a decent job."
Industry Workshops 2014 was well-attended, interesting, varied, and useful. We hope to see more events like this in the
UK in the future! © Industry workshop
At Industry Workshops you can talk to people, you can get advice, and share stories. You will realize that you're not alone!
© Industry workshop
The only feedback we've seen or heard post-Industry Workshops has been positive, so it's fair to assume people got something useful from Neale's talk. For a bit of an extra free lesson, we asked Neale what tools he'd recommend for upcoming artists:
"Photoshop, all the way," he says, "I do like blue animation pencils too, it's my favorite form of traditional media it's nice for sketching, it's easy to rework back into, it scans in easily so you can work over the top of it nicely."
Bjorn Hurri, lead artist at Opus Artz, offers his own recommendations: "I would recommend a cheap pad, bamboo or whatever. I don't think it matters at the beginning, really, as long as you get to have some sort of level of it. You don't need to buy the most expensive art materials if you're going to start learning to draw with a pencil. Any pencil will do for a long while up to the point where you are actually limited by the pencil."
He continues: "But it doesn't really matter technique has a way of limiting your way of coming up with an idea. By challenging yourself by changing technique or approach, you can come up with different solutions and results."
This different approach was something touted by many over the weekend and it wasn't just the amateurs learning from the pros, as many of the pros were looking forward to seeing their contemporaries lecturing.
Hurri's talk was well, why not let the man say? "The general synopsis, I guess, was just how to approach design in its core. When you break down a design into simple pieces, how can you make a complex design out of those simple bits? And the fact you can scale them up with information, but still have them being confined by those design elements, the core pillars."
Meanwhile, Neale was showing off his logic-based workflow something he admits probably isn't for everyone: "It's not for everyone. But it's that insight into a thought process, and everyone's got a different thought process."
Talks through the weekend were informative and practical, as well as involving a lot of questions, answers... and a fair few laughs
© Ian Dransfield
The pros were all too happy to show off the processes and reveal the secrets of how they go about making their masterpieces
© Ian Dransfield
Levente Peterffy, one of Industry Workshops' organizers, says he's a bit taken aback by it all: "It feels strange that we actually accomplished it, even more strange is that several people from junior, students to senior Art Directors told us this was the best event they ever attended."
Hurri has his ideas as to why this is, which he shared: "The fact there's different instructors from different paths and they're all humble people, and the fact there's no separation between instructor and attendee they can just go and talk. They're the biggest elements that create this comfortable atmosphere."
Across two venues in London's trendy Hoxton Square, Industry Workshops was located bang in the creative heart of the capital
© Ian Dransfield
Bjorn Hurri was given hardly any notice before being asked to fill in with a talk, but his lecture was well received. Phew!
© Ian Dransfield
Neale backs up Hurri's statement: "It's a nice, informal, but informative weekend, and there's such a good range of people". Plus, it's impossible to overlook there was free coffee and breakfast: "They gave free breakfasts, free coffee... no other workshop does that," a hungover Hurri smiles.
But it's not just the food and caffeine that's good it's the chance for people to learn, meet new friends and grow their careers just by attending a weekend of workshops. Neale explains why it's useful: "It's so easy in this industry to be stuck online, and not necessarily get stuck in a rut, but if you're only ever on a website and that's all you ever see of the concept art world, you could just stagnate and get used to it, that would just be background noise.
"So this is a more exciting, motivational thing," he continues, "And you get more of a response, you can talk to people, you can get advice and share stories, you can know that you're not the only one suffering everyone's struggling, everyone's dealing with the same issues, everyone hates their work and wants to improve, everyone's insecure. It's just nice not being the only insecure loser everyone else is an insecure loser, so it's good!"
If you let your eyes wander from the front of a room, it was common to see many other artists beavering away
© Industry workshop
Hurri says that insecurity isn't something you should run with try straightforward humility and accepting that, sometimes, you are wrong: "Personally I think we're all humans, we're all in this together. I don't have this need to satisfy my ego by having to be right. I can happily say that I'm wrong, and change. I don't care. I see it as a challenge."
Richard Burns is another of Industry Workshops' organizers, and says there's been no negative feedback as of yet but that's not the most useful thing in the world: "It's been all positive feedback so far, which is actually harder to build on than negative feedback, so we'll be looking for those who had any problems in order to make a more robust event next time.
"We're ultimately our own harshest critics, as we know all the ins and outs and lived the thing for weeks (not just days) so I'm guessing the most valuable feedback will come from our experiences of the weekend first and foremost, the artists closely after, while keeping our eyes peeled on social media. If anyone has anything they'd like to mention or questions please do email us at firstname.lastname@example.org"
A multitude of styles and approaches were on display throughout the weekend, with artists of all levels and backgrounds catered for
© Industry workshop
Daniel Matthews, the third of Industry Workshops' organizers, puts it simply why he was so happy with the weekend: "The standout element for me was how everyone connected over the weekend, I saw people make friends, get jobs and just have a great time... I've heard so many great comments that when I tell others about it I feel like I am showing off!"
Even though Industry Workshops is over for this year, it isn't too late to get some advice take it away, Neale: "Never stop pushing to improve. You're never good enough. If you think you're good enough, you're not. Always try and improve, there's always something you can do better, so keep doing it."
Workshopping 9 to 5
A resounding success? Absolutely. Industry Workshops was one of the best examples of a first-time event that anyone could have hoped for. Well-attended, interesting, varied, and importantly very useful; it's the kind of thing we'd hope to see more of in the UK in future.
And thanks to how well Industry Workshops did, it's very likely we'll be seeing more INDUSTRY WORKSHOPS_15 hashtags soon enough! If you put it off this year, make sure you don't make the same mistake next year after all, you might end up landing a job, making some new friends... or at least just having a few free coffees.