An Insight Into the Mind of an Esteemed Game Art Mentor – Benny Francis
Benny, one of our game art mentors, has nine years of experience in the gaming industry. He has worked previously in Technicolor, Lakshya Digital where he learnt the international standard of quality in artwork and went onto win the Lakshya Art Competition which gave him international recognition. He has worked as a part of many games such as the popular game, Shadow’s War and games made by big labels such as Dreamworks[NDA], Square Enix games[NDA], Platinum games [NDA].
Later, He worked for Glu Mobile which he describes to be a luxury job for any game artist, but a passion for teaching and bettering the current game development education sector aligned his goals with that of Backstage Pass, and he was welcomed here as a game art mentor.
An interview with him brought to light more of his thoughts and aspirations. So, let’s get started to know more!
“When you started as a young game artist, did you ever imagine you would end up in teaching?”
“I have always been interested in teaching as I used to teach many of the weak students in my class during my student days. As I ventured through the industry, I started seeing the holes in my colleagues’ knowledge base and realized that other than tools and software, these colleges aren’t teaching them anything. So, when Mr Surya, founder of Backstage Pass, approached me and told me how they want their students to have all the basics of game art integrated into their minds before leading up to advanced tools, it resonated with my thought process, so here I am!”
“What sort of students do you come across?”
“Ah, well I think all students are unique in their needs, but yes they can roughly be divided into two types:
1) They are self-motivated and know the path they want to pursue. These kinds of students require guidance and supervision such that they excel in whichever way they choose and take all the right steps to further themselves in it.
2) The second type, they are good at what they do but are a bit lost about what to pursue, so I try to help them find their path through exposure and experimentation.
Either type of student can go to great heights or fail miserably depending on the guidance they receive as they need to be taught first before they can experiment and I hope to be of help in every step of their journey.”
“What are your goals as a mentor?”
“To make sure that my students become renowned artists because that automatically means their art is of top quality. I want to make sure that all my students, no matter their level of talent and skill, are humble and accepting as overconfidence causes anyone to fail at some point. Mainly, I have seen many game artists with great skill but who do not get what they deserve, and they do not protest as their managerial skills are poor, but I will make sure my students know their worth and what to request for and what not to settle for when they successfully graduate from Backstage Pass as Game Developers!”
” What are the common misconceptions that people have about game art?”
“The most common ones are :
1) To take up game art, students require to be good at drawing.
Completely false. Some of my peers, who are top game artists in the country, can’t draw to save their lives!
2) A 3D artist is better than a 2D artist (OR) 3D art is better than 2D art.
Absolutely inaccurate. 3D art and 2D art are two separate mediums — each unique to their section of work.
These two are the ones I have come across quite a few times, surprisingly. “
” What is your attitude in the classroom? As in.. how are you as a teacher?”
“I’m strict about certain things, and I think discipline is a quality to be built in students so that they do not need anyone to teach them such in their future employment. I believe in work hard and play hard, so, I make my students work hard but also relax to de-stress their minds.
I don’t believe in giving them deadlines, but I do believe in making them understand the concept well enough that a passion is stirred within them to create art and present it to me. I try to channelize their raw, youthful energy into their craft rather than waste it.”
“How has the industry evolved?”
“There are many new opportunities and new mediums that have sprung up in recent times. Freelancing has become a great opportunity for artists. They get paid well, but there is no job security. As an employee, an artist has to consider his boss’s personality because many artists are put under tremendous pressure by management but now, some good companies are valuing their artists and treating them better. Recruitment in a good company is hard to get, but when you are a Backstage Pass student, it gets easy because they are associated with all the prominent game companies in India such Sony India, EA Sports and many more.”
“So, coming to our last question…do you think international standards of quality are hard to reach for your students?”
“International artists have more resources than us, which helps them shine, but when it comes to talent, we are equally good if not more. Colleges such as Backstage Pass are providing these resources. So combining passionate mentors and resources from Backstage Pass with students’ passion and talent, we can count on presenting first-grade quality.”