One day after his senior presentation in the Animation Department at CCS, Aaron Loftis moved to Seattle to begin his career as a concept artist at Microsoft for the game Project Spark. Since then, he has finished up another contract with Microsoft on the Age of the Empires reboot and hired full time as a concept artist at PopCap Games.
“It was all a bit much, but after the initial growing pains of learning how to be a good production artist in video games wore off, I hit the ground the running,” said Loftis. “I was able to touch a lot of different aspects of the game and push the style during my time there.
“I did some traveling after my contract with Microsoft ended, then returned home to Detroit to visit my family and retool my portfolio. You're not really trained in school for the toll it takes being away from your family, so it was nice to come back and reset. I also got the chance to do some freelance projects before returning to Seattle with my girlfriend Sara.”
As a student, Loftis studied both two- and three-dimensional animation. He recently compiled a collection of his personal artwork/sketches into a sketchbook that he sold at an animation convention—the same convention he had attended years ago as a student.
“This is one of my proudest accomplishments—to have come full circle as an artist!” said Loftis. “One day, I would also like to make a short film or a children’s book—something I can call my own. I've been lucky enough to hit most of my career goals, but a time will come soon to focus on a bigger meaning of making something that matters to me, not to someone else.”
Two of the greatest lessons Loftis has learned in the animation are 1) be flexible and 2) be nice.
“Being flexible makes you more valuable in the workplace.”
“You have to be able to jump in and help areas of your team that are behind or have too much to do. People take notice of those things very quickly.
“The best advice I can give anyone who wants to break into this industry is to be as nice as possible. Your ability to get hired comes down to if someone wants to sit next to you for eight hours a day. If people remember unsavory attitudes from school or previous jobs, they won't vouch for that person if they apply. All of my industry jobs have come from someone I knew on the inside suggesting me. Don’t underestimate the power of being nice!”
To check out more of Loftis’s work, visit http://aaronloftis.squarespace.com.