Case study

Pre-production artist and freelancer — Sabrina Marengo

Sabrina's passion for storytelling, her artistic skills and her perseverance secured her a concept artist role just a year after graduation

How did you get your current job?

I learned of this work through projects and my studies. When applying for an animator contract, my client saw my experience in illustration and character design and liked my style. I was offered both the concept artist and animator positions - there's huge demand for concept artists in animation, so this isn't unusual.

I'm currently working on two projects - I gained one through LinkedIn, and the other through word-of-mouth when a friend recommended me for the role.

What are your main pre-production work activities?

I'm in charge of the pre-production of two short movies, which heavily involves concept art and illustration work. I produce model sheets, expression sheets and line-up sheets, then move onto backgrounds, concept art and illustrations. Once approved, I move onto the storyboard, and the animatic (a roughly animated version of the storyboard).

What do you enjoy most about your job?

My job turns me into a researcher. As soon as a script appears, I get to research a multitude of topics. It's impossible to get bored.

I love storytelling and bringing characters to life. Creatively interpreting and developing characters from a brief is very rewarding, as briefs become ideas, then still images, then moving, breathing, thinking characters and stories.

It's great when I can use my own flair and do things in my own style, and it feels fantastic when the client loves my interpretation.

What are the most challenging parts?

It's incredibly technically and artistically challenging - every day's a school day, as there's a vast amount to learn. Clients can be challenging sometimes, especially if they aren't familiar with pre-production processes, so having tons of patience is needed.

How relevant is your degree to your job?

My degree is very relevant. I studied animation and concept art and this is at the core of animation design. Concept art is also key in the pre-production process.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

I started as a comic artist and illustrator, and never thought I'd be one day working on movies as a pre-production artist and animator.

My ambition is to become a director and work on my own movies in the future.

Any advice for aspiring concept artists?

If becoming a character/concept artist is your aim and passion, don’t feel that it's unrealistic - every artist has to start somewhere.

Draw every day, anywhere and everywhere. Keep honing the fundamentals by studying anatomy and joining life-drawing sessions. Also, seek feedback from artists you respect.

This is a journey that requires passion, patience and hard work - these skills won't occur overnight. There'll be times when you'll feel like you're stuck and not improving - adopt the mind set that failure is not an option and persevere.

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