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Concept Art Student Interview - Stephanie Dominguez


Can you tell us a bit of your art background prior to Vanas?

I knew I wanted to be an artist from very early on even without really knowing what it was that I wanted to get into. I have always been aware and surrounded by art in one way or another: from my dad, who use to paint as a hobby so I was happy to join in the fun, at school art lesson were always my favorite. I was also very lucky to have had the chance over the years to visit many famous galleries in places like Paris, Vienna, or Greece which hold the many wonders of classical masters and ancient art which are the foundations of the art world today.

"I knew I wanted to be an artist."

After I left school I went on to University of Central Lancashire where I studied illustration for 3 years. I tried a lot of different things during that time, from sculpting, printing, photography, etc.. but in the end it came back to the love of drawing and painting.

What were your motivations to take the program?

stephaniedominguezMy motivation to take the program was that I realized, after trying to figure what I wanted to do with my art, that concept art/visual development was what I really wanted to do all along and the artist I admired the most were the ones making all the art for the movies or cartoons I loved so much. Being mainly self taught, in terms of drawing foundations or painting, I felt like I needed to drastically increase my skill-set in order to be at the industry level standard and understanding how it worked, thus needing some tuition to guide me.

I searched for courses in the UK but non seem to fit what I wanted. I came across the Vanas course online and saw that it was offering exactly what I needed: going from the basic core skills to the problem solving and idea creation.

I was also very taken by the fact that you got taught by some very experienced people in the industry which I would have otherwise had no chance of meeting.

How has been your Vanas Experience so far?

"My experience has been amazing."

My experience has been amazing. I was a bit weary at first because I had no idea if the classes were going to meet my expectations, how much they were going to teach, if it all being online wouldn’t be problematic or too impersonal etc. but after the first week I was completely taken. First of all the fact that you can watch the tutorials over and over is really useful to make sure you didn’t miss anything, the content of them are well covered and if you do have any questions then you have your personal tutor, with whom you meet once a week on webcam that is always there to help out or contact via email. The school and teachers are all extremely nice and it really felt more like peers or friends and despite being in different parts of the world I still felt like we were all in that one school together. In terms of progression the program really takes it step by step to build you from the ground up which I find essential and works really well whatever level you are at, and even if you already have some strong points or experience the tutors will try to cater the assignments to your needs in order to push you to do your best.

There have been some technical glitches as the school was still very new, however any issues are always solved as quickly as possible. The school really strives to constantly improve the systems, teaching and curriculum by always asking us input on what worked or not for us, or any comments or ideas we have. To add a cherry on the top they even manage to help put into place an internship !!

Can you mention some A-ha! moments during your education?

stephanie dominguez 02I want to say the entire course was pretty much an A-ha! moments mostly relating to seeing my fast progress throughout the terms and realizing that as I was working I actually knew what I was doing and putting what I learned into use. Things like drawing the human figure, which I use to find impossible, within a few weeks there I was drawing them and with practice growing increasingly confident about it.
Another big one was with Zbrush. I had never worked with that program prior to the Vanas course however before I knew it there I was sculpting heads, hands, entire characters and creatures. Things like environments were also a giant step forward for me going yet again from never doing any to now loosing count to how many I have done.

How do you compare your art skills before and after Vanas?

"You only get as much as you put in."

Previous to Vanas I could say my skills were decent, I always had good comments about my artwork, I had started getting into digital painting but really just guessing my way through it all. I felt like you could see it in the work I produced “something” was missing.
I’m in a much more confident place now I have the structure and steps in place that give me the tools to bring my ideas to life. In terms of skill having the assignments every week means that you are just constantly getting those hours of practice in and growing with every new piece of work you make. As they say, “you only get out as much as you put in” so it is up to you to really do the work to increase these skills but the school definitely helped to guide me and push in the right direction.

What was your favorite class and teacher?

My favorite class would have had to be Kyle Balluff’s tutorials on the human figure and gestures drawing because he it was one I felt I needed the most having a hard time to keep it loose and bringing it down to the core of creating shape with a few simple lines which is the core to be able to communicate ideas effectively.

My favorite teacher is possibly the hardest one to pick as they all bought something different to the classes in their own way. I guess my last teacher David Sloan, was one of my favorite because he pushed me to get me to the studio production standards, advising me on how to sell the idea, pushing my designs and going over different techniques of rendering images that help towards it. Thomas Jung and Tom Johnson really got picky with me in order to pay attention to the little things that make a good piece of art great, and Adrian Enciso gave us some really great insight on his experiences and how things worked in the industry.

Is there anything you would like to add?

"Never stop pushing your skills."

Just that I’m so thankful to have had the chance to be on this course as I really don’t know what I would of done otherwise. Being an artist in the entertainment industry was a dream of mine for as long as I remember but felt like there wasn’t much opportunity for me to reach it in the position I was in, but now I’m definitely on the right road to make it happen thanks to the school's help. Through all the experience I have also really taken out what it takes to be a great artist, drawing constantly, never stop pushing your skills as well as always learning and re-learning everything.

stephanie dominguez 03

Alumni Network:  Visit Stephanie Dominguez portfolio.


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