College for Creative Studies: Illustration
As a student, Angie Lai knew she would have to do more than get good grades if she wanted to turn her dreams of creating games into a reality. Fortunately, she found herself surrounded by a community of mentors who could guide her in the right direction.
"Two of my instructors, Lora Parlove and Dave Chow, spent much of their own time after class and outside of class providing me with real world knowledge," said Lai. "As an informal student group, friends and classmates Jason (Hazelroth), Imran (Sheikh) and I often got together with Lora outside of school to talk about jobs, portfolios and be each other's support system. It also helped tremendously that we were quite diversified.
"As a student, I learned much of what the concept art field entitled.
"I did this by seeking out and speaking with accomplished alumni Marc Gabbana and Jay Shuster. Taking their advice to heart and witnessing their work ethic and drive helped me gain an insight into the professional world. They helped lay down a very different foundation for me that would have been very hard to learn within the walls of any classroom."
Lai noticed that the illustration program focused on editorial and advertising projects. But she had a different goal - to break into the gaming/entertainment industry. By forming connections within the CCS community, utilizing the technology available at the College, and committing herself to researching the discipline, she succeeded.
"On my own time as a student, I studied a ton of 'the Art of...' books, examined concept artists' online work and worked through Gnomon DVD tutorials as a hobby and used them as a tool for learning," said Lai. "It was also critical to spend countless hours working in Photoshop and developing my own language."
As a concept artist for High Moon Studios, Lai collaborates with the art directors and level designers in the visual development of style, location, characters and other aspects of the game development process. She works on projects that range from real world to fantasy.