Day in the life of a Digital Matte Painter and Concept Artist @ ETC

By Billy Stockwell | 17th October 2018

My career at Electric started over three years ago when I joined the company as a runner. Before that I was working in a bar and before that I was a warehouse supervisor, driving a forklift and delivering kitchens. I had studied illustration at the University for the Creative Arts (UCA), spending my time creating realistic paintings and drawing. I struggled a huge amount to find work in the arts when I left university. I then became comfortable working a 9-5 job. It was my sister who begged a friends husband to see if I could apply for a job at Electric. I got through the interview and a week later they offered me a full time runner's position, which was great, however up until a week previous I didn't even know what post production was, no lie!

After three weeks at the company I had a conversation with three of the four partners. Giles, James and Lee. They all asked what I wanted to do and if I had any previous experience. I had a fine art background and showed them some of my work and they asked if I knew anything about digital matte painting and if I had been trained in Photoshop. I hadn't, I could use a paintbrush and a pencil well but I had never worked digitally. I looked into it and researched it thoroughly; its history, how it’s practiced etc. At times it was like being back in University. I trained myself in Photoshop, giving myself projects and my own deadlines in which to do them. I then became confident to show people what I was learning and what I was creating. A CG supervisor gave me the chance to create my first Digital Matte Paint on a Center Parcs commercial. From then on I became so hungry for it, bugging and pestering management and supervisors to let me help on a job.

My next job was a concept for a dragon. As stressful as it was, it was the most fun I have ever had in my working career. After that I then had a steady flow of jobs coming my way. During the day I would Digital Matte Paint or Concept and in the evening I would go back to running. It was hard but after a total of 9 months I was then promoted to Electric's first in house Digital Matte Painter and Concept Artist.

So, that's the history of who I came to be, now it’s time for the day to day tasks. My days vary from one to the next but will normally begin with me logging on and checking my emails with a tea in one hand and a biscuit in the other. After catching up I will then speak with the lead compositor or producer to discuss the days schedule. I will then retreat to the sanctuary of my desk and will work on either a Digital Matte Painting or a concept. I will normally never be on a job longer than a week so the turn around for me is incredibly quick. I like this because it keeps me on my toes and keeps me in a fast paced environment. The truth is my days are busy but I love how close I get to the teams involved. The role I have within the company means that I work closely with many different departments so this means my management and leads will change regularly according to the job.

Three years down the line, I am still Electric's in house Digital Matte Painter shredding my junior title and working on large scale, high end jobs. I quote, I deal with clients, directors and producers and work across 3D, 2D and on many different projects. Over my three years I have picked up a huge array of industry skills, learnt new software like Nuke and parts of Maya and have met some of the most talented artists and all round awesome humans.