Terrence Hicks – Freelance Digital Artist

Terrence Hicks – Freelance Digital Artist



“I’m the constant in the creative storm.”


Terrence, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat.

“Thanks for having me.”

 

What is your job title?

“At the moment, I’m a freelance digital artist.”

 

What are some of the game titles you’ve worked on throughout your career?  What companies have you worked for?

“I have worked with big and small companies Sony, EA, Redacted, and Doppleganger to name  a few across multiple platforms. I was part of a great team such as the Tiger Team at EA. and worked on other games such as Jonny Moseley, Lord of the Rings, Vside, Tiger Woods PGA, The Godfather: The Game, just to name a few, as well as stinker Afro Samurai 2 on mobile, consoles, and web.”

 

We all have a stinker or two in our portfolios.

“Amen to that.”

 

I didn’t know you worked on Jonny Moseley Mad Trix.  I started on that project.  I think the only thing left that I designed were the character names.  Maybe the core of a backstory or two.

“Yeah, that’s where we we met, at 3DO back in the day. Fun times.”

 

So, what does a freelance artist do?  Can you describe your typical workday?

“Well it’s like being a lead artist in house, but you only interface with and Art Director or Creative Director. I’m still doing game but for profit and on my time.”

“So I build everything at time from soup to nuts, concept, layout, lighting, props, environments and characters and if a client gets in a pinch I do some low level coding.”

“At the moment I’m working with two clients in the mobile game space and the other in the VR space.”


“I have work in the Smithsonian Museum for VR for a project I helped out on while at Multigen, The USS Iron Side.”


 

Freelance is different than being in house and on the development team.  What would you say are pros and cons to being freelance?

“Ah. The difference that I notice is the time that you put into things. Deadlines and the chances to get it right is very close when freelancing. There are very short ramp up times to know the team you maybe working with pipeline. And sometime they don’t have one and you’re making It up as you go.”

 

I see, you are called in to do it quick and within a particular budget.

“Yes, at times, or if i’ve worked with them before, I have an asking price for the job load or more so duties.”

 

thegodfatherthegame_xbox360boxWell, let’s go back in your history.  

“Sure.”

 

Where did you grow up?

“I’m a bay area native, south bay! Los Altos to San Jose.”

 

How did you become a digital artist? Did you go to school?

“I grew up drawing, but in the early 80’s when I was kid I was big into ThunderCats, Macross and Transformers…. you know the good stuff. [Laughs]”

“So I start to draw and draw and landed a few rag tag comic books, so top Cow type of stuff. Then went to Masters Institute tech and SJU to learn all that I could. At that time, there wasn’t much.”

 

You were a comic book artist? Any specific books are was it short side trip into comics?

“Yeah, one off’s, one of my buddies’ own October black press.”

 

So, the Masters Institute and San Jose State taught you the digital arts?

“Yes and no, State was more for the brick and mortars drawing, networking, underground programing. Masters was more a introduction to the computer graphic world. So I didn’t get much out of that place other than more networking and how to find user groups. To where I could go and train with working professionals. I met a lot of great people from all over the industry that way.”

“I learn all my heavy graphics on the job or at home.”

 

How did these connections translate into your first game development job?

“A, I was out of school, my first GDC’s I showed my work to a company called Multigen based out of San Jose. They liked my stuff and asked if I would like a contract to do some QA Eng for the 3D Software. That led me to more projects on that team to where I was being flown overseas to demo their product, as well as Demo God for GDC and E3 and the like for the time.”

“The flagship game product was San Francisco Rush for Atari, so, from time to time I got to help out. So, that gave me the thirst to keep at it, I wanted to go straight into films. That is where I thought I wanted to be; It is all history from there.”

 

You’ve focused on character art in the past, correct? But it seems like you are skilled in many other aspects of art creation.

“Like many gigs, sometimes you got to get what you can take. That in the end makes you a stronger, more well rounded team asset, not just artist. Yes, I’ve worked on and currently work on characters, environments, and props. I’ve had the blessing to have had been everything from a texture artist to an art director on a few projects, across a wide spectrum of platforms and media. As well as just meeting some of the coolest and interesting people you would want to meet.”

 

What professional accomplishment are you most proud of?

“I have work in the Smithsonian Museum for VR for a project I helped out on while at Multigen, The USS Iron Side.”

 

That’s amazing!  It is a part of history.

“Yeah, that’s what still tickles me, even today.”

 


“Just enjoy what you do and learn everything that you can, things and tech changes so fast.”


What is the one thing that got cut during production that you wish you could have saved?

“Design on this last Afro Project, so, in a nutshell, Redacted Studios was a very small group. We had to cut back on design staff because of funding. The loss of design made the game suffer immensely.”

 

As a designer, I understand what impact we can have on a project.  It’s the loss of a dedicated set of eyes to ensure the fun is not lost during the development of the game.

“The fun factor wasn’t there, no art in the world can save that and then art gets cut and pushed and pulled to make up for the lack game.”

 

What are your favorite/most used development tools or plugins?

“I use Maya and Zbrush on a day to day basis, for play and work.”

 

What is the one game that influenced you the most?

Metroid, I loved that game growing up, just the replay factor, you know? I beat it maybe about a handful of times, but a lot of great dying along the way.”

 

Tech is constantly changing in our industry.  What upcoming trends or tech interest you the most?

“I’m glad you asked that, as a creative person here in the SF bay area and around the world, VR and the like is making its comeback. My first real gig at Multigen was and still is a VR company. Google, Samsung,Sony, Verizon just to name a few are Jumping into the market. For the ‘Game artist’ is it’s a windfall at times. They need what we have, 3D knowledge and how to deliver it properly. Using everything we have been doing for years and baking it down into wearables, AKA, 3D industrial designer. As well at 3D UI UX. There are so many new application uses and so many areas that have come from game to everyday use. It’s going to be a very exciting year.”

 

How do you like to spend your free time?

“Music and my family when I do have free time. I listen to just about anything as long as it feels good.”

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Do you play an instrument?

“When I was younger I played the sax and the trombone.  It was something to do and my dad always wanted a boy band [Laughs].”

 

What advice would you give to someone pursuing your career?

“Just enjoy what you do and learn everything that you can, things and tech changes so fast.”

 

If people wanted to reach you, how can they find you?  Twitter? Email?

“I don’t chirp, TerrenceJHicks@yahoo.com”

 

If you had to describe yourself in one sentence, what would you say?  What is your tagline?

“I’m the constant in the creative storm.”

 

Thanks for your time!

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