What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is Jeff Parrott. Currently I am a Course Director at Full Sail University teaching the Game Art Degree Program as well as a full-time freelance prop and environment Artist in the video game industry. I recently finished www.retrogradegame.com as an Art Director. I have also worked on a couple of Ratchet & Clank games, a Jak and Daxter title, a Silent Hill game, and a bunch of freelance projects. www.environmentartist.com is my online art portfolio.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
Probably the craziest job I’ve had before working in the video game industry was working in a arcade. One of those ticket redemption arcades. Absolutely have appreciation for people that work in those places. It’s also another place where I learned to love games as an interactive medium.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
Finishing Retro/Grade as an Art Director is probably my most proud moment so far. I have had the opportunity to work with insanely talented people and great people on every project I’ve contributed too. I’m very excited for what the next project around the corner is.
How did you become interested in animation?
I became interested in games after an instructor at Full Sail, Chad Kendall, got me excited about video games. He really opened my eyes to what is possible with pixels and polygons as an Artist.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I am from mid-Michigan (right about here pointing to the middle of my hand). I got into the video game industry after graduation college and not finding any graphic design work after the internet bubble collapsed. My Father suggested going back to school for “computer art” and suggested a place like Full Sail. A few weeks later I was starting there on my way.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
Usually get to work, check email and correspondance with students. Grade any outstanding assignments or email back students. I then start working on freelance work, class examples, or anything art related. I really love having a job where I’m able to focus on pushing myself as an Artist and helping others get started in the video game industry.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
As a Teacher I love helping the students get started and ready to secure a job in their dream field.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
As a freelancing Artist I don’t enjoy the hustling for my next gig. I would love to get an Agent or someone to handle that end for me. Let me know if you know anyone!
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
Autodesk Maya, Pixologic Zbrush, Adobe Photoshop, Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Marmoset Toolbag are programs I am using on a daily basis.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
There really isn’t any difficult part aside from the grind of continually looking for the next freelance job.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
I have always been fortunate to work with talented Artists. Whether it’s teaching with super talented Artists and motivators, or freelancing with an insanely talented team, or working with an art team in house. I guess that’s mainly luck. I would say I’ve been fortunate to always work with greatness.
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
Describing a tough situation is tough. My Brother has hydrocephalus. He has had multiple brain surgeries and various other surgeries. Seeing him live life and not get hung up on little things even if they give him trouble makes me keep things in perspective. Being upset at a coworker or art work not getting used in a game or anything becomes a smaller deal. I would encourage anyone interested to donate to the Hydrocephalus Association, http://www.hydroassoc.org/how-to-donate-to-the-hydrocephalus-association/ if you are able.
Any side projects you’re working on that you’d like to share details of?
Nothing at the moment that I’m able to speak about. I would say go check out the Playstation 3 game I just worked on Retro/Grade www.retrogradegame.com it’s a fantasic game by a great group of people.
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
No unusual talents other than I love running. It’s a horrible thing to enjoy. It’s amazingly boring while you’re doing it.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Work, work, work. Put in that 10,000 hours to be great. Read The Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell and The Dip Seth Godin. Those books changed my focus with regards to my art. Really just find what you enjoy that the hours melt away when you’re doing it and figure out how to get paid to do that.