Rashad Redic is the latest Inside the Vault participant.
What’s your job at Bethesda?
I’m an environment artist — not so much the landscaping but more of the physical structures and props, and textures you’ll see throughout your travels in the wasteland. I’ve also done a large amount of our dungeon lighting.
What other games have you worked on?
I’ve worked on Godfather, a couple of Gretzky NHL titles, Tony Hawk, and some level editor functionality stuff for Battlefield 1942. I’ve also QA’d my way through another 7 titles.
What is the best part about working as an artist? The worst part?
Any art you’ve ever enjoyed looking at is an acknowledgment more about the story of how it came to be and less about how it was created, so easily the best part for me is that creation process. Everything’s got a story behind it, and figuring out the character of that object, from color composition to materials, to how it was used, makes good art become great art. The necessary evil of my job are probably the deadlines because I could easily obsess over my work a lot longer than I have time to. You know how artists are — its never finished, you just stop working on it.
How did you get into the industry? Do you have any tips for breaking in?
Breaking into the industry…that was an adventure. Fresh out of high school in Oakland, CA I started off taking art classes at junior college because I couldn’t afford to go to an art school. At the time, I thought I’d be a comic book artist or a traditional 2D animation artist. Careers in the game industry certainly weren’t being pushed then like they are now, and truth be told, art as a viable career path doesn’t get much exposure in the inner city. I did that for awhile but the art classes weren’t comprehensive enough so I finally enrolled in the Academy of Art. That became a real source of friction in a single parent household just barely scraping by. My mother wanted me to get a full time job, but I wanted to go to art school. I think she was skeptical at how much money an artist could make, but I promised if we could hang in there everything would work itself out for the better. Well, art school ain’t cheap, and even with financial aid, it was just too much of a struggle to keep up, and I started missing classes and falling behind when I got a job, and I ended up dropping out of school. That was a soul crushing disappointment, and I tried applying for art jobs, but you know how that goes — if there’s two applicants of similar skill they’ll take the one with the degree.
My mother was awesome though, and she was supportive even though she didn’t agree with me and it was huge blow when she passed away shortly after I dropped out of school. It was just me and her, now it was just me, and I thought at that point that was it, a regular 9 to 5 was probably what it had to be and I think I went about two years without doing any art. My girlfriend was a real inspiration for me to finally go back to school, and that stretch at the Art Institute of CA — San Francisco, combined with the imploding 2D industry and the booming game industry pretty much ushered me into my career. This time I made sure to graduate. The thing though, is that a lot of times college demo reels still need some work and some polish and employer response pretty much tells you on which side of that you fall, and I fell on the side of needed more work.
I got a job in QA and did that for awhile, but the work hours prohibited me from getting anything done on my reel. So when my contract ended, it came as a relief because I could get back to my art. I don’t remember how the numbers worked out, but my unemployment checks ended up being about as much as I was making anyway, so I rode my unemployment checks to the very end. During that time I sat in front of the computer for about 14 hours a day everyday doing nothing but art, absorbing books and learning, and I hammered out a new demo reel. That’s the reel that landed me at a small studio through a contact, and I’ve been doing it ever since.
This is to say that people arrive in the industry from all walks of life. The greatest tip I could offer is just being resilient and being able to handle and grow from your challenges — that’s how you’ll get into the industry, and being motivated to learn and improve and is how you’ll stay there.
What would you say is your personal favorite game of all time?
I don’t know if I could point to any single game as the greatest of all time, but there are several I love, or at least remember them as being awesome while wearing my rose-colored glasses. In no particular order: Grim Fandango, both Shadowruns for SNES and Genesis, A Link to the Past, Resident Evil 2 and 4, Final Fantasy III, Call of Duty 4, Half-Life.
What games are you looking forward to?
The month of October is going to be killer on the bank account. Dead Space, Far Cry 2, and Fable 2 are all things I’m interested in, and then Left 4 Dead might be the first thing in awhile to cure my Team Fortress 2 addiction (or is that one addiction replaced by another)?
What makes you get out of bed in the morning?
I love video games. I love art. I go to work and make art for video games. Awesome.
Worst job you’ve ever had?
Yeah… that’d have to be getting my Al Bundy on in the shoe department in retail. Pro tip: Wear clean socks before shopping for shoes and if your feet smell like a sack of ferrets you might want to think about deodorizing insoles. And while we’re at it, what’s with trying on one shoe, walking to another department in that shoe and then leaving it there? Now I’ve got a box with one shoe and who knows where the other one went. Then you get these people who try on like eight pairs of shoes, only they try on each pair in eight different places in the store while walking around looking for the ninth pair. And then decide they don’t like any of them! What? Now I’ve got to come behind you like Pac Man scooping up shoes from all over the place. Sorry, repressed memories.
Any other hobbies and interests? What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Screenplay writing, music, and art and animation keep me pretty occupied.