Airi Pan X Schoolism Interview Summary

In our synopsis, you can get an insight into Airi's experiences as a concept artist, her journey with Schoolism courses, as well as the challenges she faced and overcame.

Summer's End by Airi Pan

Content Table

Key Quotes & Insights

Bobby: Some people will thrive in situations where they are supplied with everything and may not thrive in other situations. Other people are the exact opposite, if you give them everything they will not thrive.
Airi: When it comes to original designs, especially with characters and environments; something that has never been seen, I will always start with my own sketches (...) I believe that it should always be sketch first.
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A lot of times, we put the status of being a “student”, “beginner”, or “amateur” before being an “artist”. We do not think that we are ready to be called an artist yet, but this kind of mindset is what’s stopping us.
Don’t be so worried and unconfident about the quality of your artwork. No matter what level you are at, take pride in your creations.
💡
It’s comforting to know that, at the end of the day, even professional designers struggle with making their work original. If you find yourself stuck on a design because you don’t have any new ideas, don’t be afraid to seek out references or to be inspired by good designs. There are no truly new ideas out there. Designs are just iterations of our collective visual library tweaked in a very special way.

Full Summary

Be prepared as an artist

1:15 - Airi introduces herself and explains what interested her to become an artist.

4:03 - Because of the pandemic, Airi decided to take a “light term” and do client work.

5:30 - Being mentally prepared and presenting yourself as an artist, not just a student.

Airi: It’s a supply and demand. If someone wants the art, you can totally supply it! You don’t need to be a ‘100% graduated professional.’
Airi: There are some people who reject opportunities just because they think, ‘Aw, I’m not ready yet. I’m a student.’ Anyone who has that kind of concern, please don’t have that — it’s stopping you.
💡
A lot of times, we put the status of being a “student”, “beginner”, or “amateur” before being an “artist”. We do not think that we are ready to be called an artist yet, but this kind of mindset is what’s stopping us.
Don’t be so worried and unconfident about the quality of your artwork. No matter what level you are at, take pride in your creations.

Airi's personal experience

7:00 - Airi talks about her various experiences as a concept designer and illustrator.

8:56 - First freelance job

After her first year of art school, a game studio reached out to Airi for some freelance work. As this was Airi’s first time getting to work on a game, she was very excited in hopes of character designing or world building. Contrary to her high hopes, the offered work was to design some icons for the game studio’s simple bubble shooter game (mobile). Regardless of the slight disappointment, it was her first-ever freelance job offer so she gladly accepted it. This job alone started Airi’s “freelancer career.”

Airi: From the experience alone, I thought it was so helpful, just to start off. I did not start off at Dreamworks or Pixar right off the bat.
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No one starts off big. They simply take small steps, eventually nearing their dream or goal.

10:25 - First “big job”

Airi’s first “big job” was with Titmouse, Inc. on Critical Role Productions. She worked as a set designer for the first season and partially for the second season of Vox Machina.

10:47 - Bobby asks Airi if she was nervous about it and how she coped with the nervousness.

12:50 - Specialization.

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You don’t have to decide on being specialized in an area (ex. character or environment design) right away. Take your time. Do what you want to do and not just for the market demands.

13:38 - A bridge between “student” and “professional.”

Bobby: By you going out there and already working on these things, you’re creating this beautiful bridge between ‘student’ and ‘professional.’
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Be open to whatever opportunities come your way and allow yourself to take advantage of them to level yourself up. Maybe you’ll get to work for professional game studios at an early stage, even as a student like Airi.

14:30 - Airi talks about her experience of taking Schoolism courses in her sophomore year. She took all Nathan Fowkes’ courses and Painting with Light and Color by Dice Tsutsumi and Robert Kondo.

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If your local area doesn’t have concept art resources, Schoolism is a great online platform.

25:07 - Bobby Asks Airi if she has any long-term goals.

Airi hopes to eventually own a studio or be able to “give back” to the community in some way or another.

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Having big goals for the future keeps you from losing track of the path to mastery. Be sure to set a goal now, and to keep setting challenges for yourself even after you start work professionally.

26:23 - Airi explains how nobody else in her family has any artistic background.

30:24 - Bobby questions whether or not the financial background is an actual factor that influences one’s work ethic and success.

Bobby: Some people will thrive in situations where they are supplied with everything and may not thrive in other situations. Other people are the exact opposite, if you give them everything they will not thrive.
💡
It doesn’t matter where your family comes from, how much money you have, or the resources that you have at your disposal. As long as you have the work ethic, and possibly the internet on your side, there is no reason you should not be able to thrive. It all comes down to hard work, and willingness to face adversity.

Challenges and Styles

31:53 - Bobby asks Airi about how she utilizes so many different drawing styles.

Airi explains how she morphs her style but retains fundamental design principles such as research and drawing fundamentals.

Airi: When it comes to original designs, especially with characters and environments; something that has never been seen, I will always start with my own sketches (...) I believe that it should always be sketch first.
💡
For designs starting off with a sketch is the way to go. You really get ideas going in your head, and you can begin to visualize designs. When you sketch, be open to cool references, be open to being inspired everywhere.

36:50 - Airi breaks down the thought process for one of her creature designs.

39:31 - Bobby asks what are Airi’s biggest challenges as an artist.

Airi: To be able to create something that people haven’t seen before, but still speaks to an audience. Clients always ask “I want something that no one has ever seen before” (...) let's be real here - there is no way that people can design something entirely original that nobody has ever seen.

💡
It’s comforting to know that, at the end of the day, even professional designers struggle with making their work original. If you find yourself stuck on a design because you don’t have any new ideas, don’t be afraid to seek out references or to be inspired by good designs. There are no truly new ideas out there. Designs are just iterations of our collective visual library tweaked in a very special way.