Behind the Title: Flight School concept artist Ruby Wang

NAME: Ruby Wang

COMPANY: Dallas-based Flight School Studio

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COMPANY?
Flight School is a place where everybody gets together and comes up with an awesome idea and then works on that idea to create something that is wonderful. We use AR, VR or other tech to tell stories. We do that with our own ideas and we also work with clients.

WHAT’S YOUR JOB TITLE?
Concept Artist.

WHAT DOES THAT ENTAIL?
As a concept artist, I take the idea of the story and visualize it. We create characters, backgrounds and props to support the story. I work at the very beginning of a project. Sometimes when working on a character, we’ll have to explain the character to the 3D modelers and texture artists so they understand how it functions: The skeleton, textures and clothes. That’s so they can create it in 3D for the rest of the team to use.

WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE THE MOST ABOUT WHAT FALLS UNDER THAT TITLE?
I think people expect concept artists to make pretty pictures. As concept artists, we’re not necessarily fine-art illustrators. All the pretty pictures we create have to be functional and explain something to other people. We create a lot of not-so-pretty pictures — it’s all about ideas, not about how pretty the picture is. As a concept artist you can’t be afraid to create crappy drawings. As long as it conveys the idea, that is a good piece of concept work.

WHAT TOOLS DO YOU USE?
Mainly Adobe Photoshop. Sometimes we go back to hand drawings — pencil and paper. It just feels good.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
My favorite part of the job is that you can actually create and foresee the final look of the project. You create it and then someone actually makes it happen! It is the most satisfying thing to see your work go through everybody’s hands. We all create something together based on my designs. That is really awesome.

WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
We have to do a lot of technical and specific drawings to explain stuff and make things functional. That part is so mechanical sometimes. You really have to dig in and make sure everything works for the modeler. That part can sometimes be really boring.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TIME OF THE DAY?
In the early morning. Super early morning when the sunlight hasn’t quite come out yet. I like to wake up early and go jogging or take a walk. Then, I come in to the studio and start my day. If you wake up super early in the morning, you have a lot of time to do other stuff and it’s not even noon yet!

IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE THIS JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
I think I would be a children’s book illustrator and telling my own stories in different ways. I am very curious, and I like trying to explain what I am learning to other people or even children. But, it is hard to convey what’s in my mind, so I use stories to tell other people my ideas and what I’ve learned. To convey a heavy or dark idea, you have to use art to help other people more easily understand.

HOW EARLY ON DID YOU KNOW THIS WOULD BE YOUR PATH?
Pretty early on. When I was little I would tell stories to my sister through my art. I would sit in a room, drawing my story, paper by paper and I would force her to listen to my stories every weekend. I always loved telling stories. When I grew up, I tried to find ways to tell stories everyday. So, I studied 3D animation and found out animation is fun, but the visual development part is what I really enjoyed. You can support the story by creating the characters and environments. I could be doing other jobs but I always want to be telling stories.

CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS YOU HAVE WORKED ON?
I am working on Island Time, a VR game where you crash into an island. It is a really tiny island and you have to survive by catching fish and eating coconuts. You also get to make friends with Carl, a crab who lives there. I had a really great time designing Carl. Designing stuff for Island was really fun because the game is very goofy and cartoony. It’s more fun to see your work created in 3D and in-engine because you can interact with it. It’s really fun.

WHAT IS THE PROJECT THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
It is really hard to choose. I write stories in my spare time, but I rarely show them to other people. The Flight School team and I are working on a project right now that is based around my original story. I am really excited about it because I get to do more than just concept art. It is the first time I’ve shared my stories with a larger team, and it is exciting to craft the world and tell a story from my own perspective. I wish I could talk more about it!

NAME THREE PIECES OF TECHNOLOGY YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.
One thing is Google Maps – I am super bad at directions. I need Google Maps to survive.
My camera. Sometimes, I’ll see some lighting that is awesome in nature, or a texture I’ve never seen before and want to study it but can’t memorize it. So I need a camera to capture the moment so I can really study it. My iPhone — I have an iPhone 6, and I use it to connect with other people. I used to live in San Francisco and I had a lot of friends. Now that I’m in Texas, I get lonely and my friends take turns calling me each night to keep me company.

DO YOU LISTEN TO MUSIC WHILE YOU WORK?
Yes, but not only music. I also listen to audiobooks and podcasts. For audiobooks, it is usually a book I’ve read in English already so I don’t have to focus too much on the narrator talking. The Harry Potter audiobooks are awesome. Podcasts are whatever my other colleagues recommend to me. Dirty John and S-Town are two I have really enjoyed.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO DE-STRESS FROM IT ALL?
My work is creating art and drawings, but the way I destress is by creating art and drawings… for my own pleasure. I create stuff for myself. You don’t have to make it functional – it’s just pure fun. If I don’t draw, I feel weird. It’s like when you are addicted to something and you have to do it everyday or you feel like something is wrong with you!


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