21 Oct Drawing Inspiration from Everywhere

My name is Katy Hargrove, and my primary function is making monsters!

I come from Georgia, where I learned to love nature, fishing, cartoons, video games, and B movies—none of which have fallen by the wayside. I’ve always played videogames, but I didn’t become obsessed until I played Earthworm Jim. It’s weird, it’s’s my jam! 

I’d never felt or seen anything like Earthworm Jim; it was the first time I’d encountered something that echoed my own weird outlook and did something different and unexpected. When I play games, that’s what I want out of them: the different and the unexpected. (The last games I played were Monument Valley and Papers, Please. No surprise that I found them engrossing and rich.)  

Working in Digital Clay

I'm here at Motiga being all responsible-like for turning cool character concepts into fully realized 3D game models. I've had a hand in everything from giant guardians to teeny ambient lifeforms. Big and small, each character is very special, and I hope to be true to who they are as I pull them out of the digital clay. It's a challenging but super-fun job that I feel like I've been training for throughout my career. 

I've been working on characters and creatures for video games for the last 14 years, notably the Guild Wars franchise and Buddy and Me. Most of my work during that time has been detailed and realistic. Creating characters here at Motiga is quite the change. We’re striving for a clean and readable character, going out of our way to remove unnecessary detail. 

Whichever style I'm working in, I have to establish a strong feeling as I sculpt. Imagining myself stepping into a new persona or skin allows me to have both flexibility in style and to follow through on modeling a strong personality. 

Nature and Abstraction

One way I develop empathy towards a character and a critical eye is to study nature and animals, seeing relationships within an environment, texture, color, anatomy, and emotion, with an emphasis on comparative study, relating the subject back to humans.

Along with nature and animals comes a study of the abstract. Being aware of how abstraction can successfully communicate is key, and that awareness can punch up emotion in sculptures and images. This means I watch a lot of animal videos and cartoons, then head to the zoos and art museums, then take hikes and road trips...then watch a lot of many cartoons. Anyone watching Korra? OMG watch Korra...and Gravity Falls, and Wander Over Yonder, and Adventure Time, and Stephen Universe, and that Boxtrolls movie..and all the things!

Geeking Out—With a Purpose

If you can't tell from the above, I think being professional about something also means being a big nerd about it—then finding other big nerds to nerd out with and trying to make something together. I work at a whole company of big nerds, and it is one of the most joyful experiences walking into the studio every day and knowing you are about to have about a thousand geeky conversations about who knows what. Maybe dinosaur stuff, maybe space stuff...maybe we exhaust our daily allowance of Simpsons quotes or share some sweet mash-up songs. 

Those conversations may not seem important, but they lead back to the game we are making. If you can hit that level of geeking out...and learning...and joy on a project together, you know you are in the right place, and you know you’ve got something special going on. 

To which I say RAWR!