The Art of James Teeple

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Leicester, United Kingdom
I'm 21 / DMU Art Student / British-American.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Let me tell you a bit about me...

Hello, my name is James Teeple.  I'm 20 and currently I am a first year Undergraduate studying Game Art Design at De Montfort University in Leicester.  I spent half of my childhood growing up in the states and, the other half in Suffolk, UK  where I came from to come on this course. I consider myself be a fine artist because, up until this point I found my skills and talents lay predominantly in sculpture and drawing. That is what I have been most passionately perusing over the last few years.  I dabbled in Illustration to further ground my knowledge and explore new ideas but mostly stuck to doodling my designs and ideas before fleshing them out, as part of the design process in my work three dimensional work.

However, my artistic interest started off with drawing. I remember my first external push towards art.  It happened way back in primary school in my second year living in the UK. Cut the long story short; one art class in Year 5, we had to draw an animal we liked. I have always been fascinated by nature. I had grown up eyeballing national geographic books and magazines, and spending most of my time in the dirt or up tree's.  So naturally not one to be put off by complexity; I chose a wolf. I found them to be incredibly mysterious and beautiful creatures. just awesome to look at. Consequently I really gave it my best shot.    

As it turned out, my wolf was “pretty good”, and my teacher was so impressed she asked me to take up the daunting task of designing the school flyers front page! Of course I accepted and thoroughly enjoyed the responsibility of it; relished it in fact. I think that was when I first felt some pride in what I had achieved artistically. Thanks to a little bit of recognition and being given the opportunity test myself. That’s when I started to think to myself, I can do this stuff and it’s not too hard! I guess I call it instinctual in many ways. I wish it had turned out that way with Math and English also… My brain just wasn’t wired that way, but I guess I’m thankful it didn’t, as I wouldn’t be where I am now! :)

So, what have I done to get here?  Well I did the compulsory schooling, and then stayed on to do my A levels. I never left art as a subject of course; it was probably my favourite one right the way through. It provided me with all the valuable opportunities I needed to explore sculpture, drawing and painting, although I did have to grit my teeth at the way it was taught sometimes. Looking back at the work I produced, I was aware of it at the time but now I fully appreciate just why I favoured sculpture so much.  

I was virtually the only individual in my school that seemed to love clay and use it; to the degree in fact, that it became sort of my signature medium through high-school. I don’t know why no-one else really took to it quite like I did. My guess is that they were intimidated by it early on…  I was fascinated by the stuff! It was like I had found the perfect way to draw for me, because my head wanted to draw things in 3D like I could envision them; but I always felt stunted by the pencil and page to a degree… with clay though, I felt the boundaries were shifted much farther apart. And so I stuck to it integrating 2D drawing and 3D sculpture whenever possible, teaching myself techniques as the years went on.

P.E (physical education) worked well alongside art as my second steadiest subject. I feel it helped ground my knowledge of anatomy.  By needing to learn and appreciate the intricacies of the human body in detail; I could then revise my knowledge with sculpture. This is one thing that lead to my fascination with human anatomy and figurative sculpture during school.

After finishing my A-levels, I completed a Foundation diploma in Art and Design at Suffolk New College last year. That was a great experience for me because it was a whole new level I had not experienced before in A- levels as far as Art goes. I had access to so much more. More materials, more tools, more Tutors! So when it came to personal projects, my ideas went crazy as you can imagine. I pushed myself and wanted to learn so badly, and I’m glad I took advantage of that opportunity. One of the things I most enjoyed that I had never professionally attempted before was, nude life drawing. I only wish I got to do it more while I was there. It’s probably needless to say that I did sculpture as well. There were several things that I got to try my hand at that were new to me. One was glazing ceramics, another glass sculpture. But the most significant for me was fine plaster cast moulding and casting.  This is because I chose to explore what could be done with it for my FMP.

As part of a larger body of work ranging from 2D traditional and Digital to 3D works; I created a full head rubber latex mask from my original sculpture and design. Using fine cast plaster to create the mould that would be the tool for casting my masks.
Here is an example photo of fresh out of the mould and unpainted mask, and a painted version:

I won’t go into detail about the creation process, as that would take forever! but I was very pleased with the final outcome.  let me instead introduce you to some of the people that helped influence me develop as an artist and my work over the years. I discovered American artist Frank Frazetta unknowingly when I was 6, rifling through my dad’s old books in the barn. Of course I didn’t really understand all that I saw in his images, being so young. But they fascinated me, and the images stuck. Little did I know; Frazetta’s work would fundamentally change my perception of fantastic art. Setting the standard as it was; for years to come when I would take a serious interest in the Genre and rediscover Frazetta in a mature understanding and appreciation. He wasn’t gifted the title “Grand master of Fantastic art” for nothing.  He was a man that I greatly respected and admired for his work. R.I.P February 9, 1928 – May 10, 2010.

What I most loved about his paintings, was the energy and life in his characters. Each was as fascinating and rich with information as a good film may be. And I could look at them over and over again even now trying to understand the simple complexity of his strokes and lines, in addition to his colour theory which baffled me.
These are two much older historical artists, who influenced my studies and had an impact on my thought processes and techniques as I developed my sculpture. Titans of their time, Michelangelo and Da Vinci were incredibly gifted individuals whose greatest work is in my opinion ageless and in many ways unsurpassable. 

I don't suppose it’s really that necessary to say I have a large interest in games as I'm studying Game Art Design. But I have done for the past 11 years or so. For me games had a huge impact on my later childhood and helped a little to shape who I am ultimately. The impact they have had on my art is probably equal to artists Ive mentioned as far as aspirations go. Because like many of us on this course, I have soaked up the constant and ever changing streams of visual information games spat out at you, in newer and prettier ways each year. The aesthetics of the game have always intrigued me because of my artistic interest. I loved to imagine how the creatures, characters and words were thought up. And pictured myself maybe, doing that one day. That's why I am on this course. Because I believe it’s something I can do, and will enjoy when I get there.

Right now, I believe I would be best suited as a Character & creature Artist, possibly also doing Costume/ weapon design. Owing to my current practiced knowledge and keeping to my comfort zones. But I will push myself during this course to expand my list of recipes and master many new things! I am not at all a one trick pony. ;)

Thanks for reading, take care till next time.

p.s. Here is an example of the kind of qualities I should aim for to get a job as a Concept artist, which is my ultimate goal:

Concept Artist

Rockville, MD

� Create the look of the game by working with the Art Director to establish a consistent visual direction for mood, environments, characters, weapons, etc. by creating inspiring concept art that focuses on dynamic visual elements that maintain accurate scale, established architectural standards and character/creature anatomy that will be used to create in game content.
� Collaborate with the Art Director to implement the vision for the game
� Produce work in an efficient and timely manner, on schedule
� Work closely with colleagues to foster a highly communicative, coordinated team effort
� Ensure quality of related assets by maintaining responsibility over your work throughout the project's development

� Excellent traditional artistic skills with a strong grasp of composition, anatomy, color theory, perspective, lighting, environment, architectural, creature/character, costume and graphic design.
� Proficiency in life drawing (drawing from life and reference) as well as a strong imagination and a willingness to push the envelope, to innovate within the parameters of the game's world.
� Strong communication, excellent visual storytelling and written skills.
� Strong interpersonal skills-able to interact with team members of different disciplines.
� Good positive attitude and outlook, self-motivated, and a great team-player.

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