Hello Mike, thank you for joining us on Talking With The Pros. Can you please give us a brief background on where you’re from and how you got started in the industry.
Thanks for having me. I am currently living in Michigan just outside of Ann Arbor. I got my start in the industry working for the same studio that I am currently Creative Director. I started out as a junior retoucher learning to retouch on files that would be output to 8×10 film for separation. This is where I cut my teeth on learning the fine details and clean compositing, you’ll be amazed what details art directors can see on an 8×10 piece of film with a 4X loop! So every single pixel had to be perfect.
What would you say is your favorite project you worked on? Hardest project?
I can’t narrow it down to a single project, but more of the type of work. I really enjoy working with photographers and combining their talent with my CGI and photoshop skills. I think this type of work is the most rewarding for me and it’s nice to have a partner with you on a project. The hardest project by far was the Sony PSVita campaign for E3. We had to shoot, composite and generate cgi elements for HUGE banners with multiple elements and people… oh yeah and we had 4 days to do it. Needless to say, I never slept.
Your work is very eye catching, how do you come up with your concepts and effects? Any advice/tips for designers trying to adapt a similar style?
Well, thank you for the compliment. Sometimes I come up with ideas during the strangest times, while jogging, during sleep, while driving the car, but I definitely never end up with an image as I original set out to do. The creative process is very fluid for me and I make decisions on the fly when creating pieces that sometime take on a life of their own. I am never afraid to try things, push elements to the limit and most of all, I am not afraid to start over if I don’t feel it is quite right.
How do you approach a new project? What would be your first few steps when starting?
I usually take the creative brief, ask a bunch of questions to get the art directors intent and vision. Then I go off into visual land – stock photo sites, web searches and cgi models to see what’s available and what inspires me to put into my pieces. This is a step that I do in the beginning and in the middle of my process to make sure if my direction has changed, I didn’t skip over something that may not have worked earlier on.
You have been the Creative Director at SeventhStreet for quite a while now (Since 1997), can you describe your day to day tasks and the overall atmosphere at the company?
I am the lead artist and CD, so everything has to go through me before it gets sent out to our clients. But I also have input on our marketing strategies, social media, new business and the hiring of new talent. We are a very relaxed studio where everyone is responsible for quite a few tasks… there is nowhere to hide and we just ask that you do whatever it takes to get the job done right. But we also understand that people have lives and we are very flexible with where and when you work and time off – as long as the work gets done I don’t care if you have to leave to go to your underwater basket weaving class.
Which design blogs, forums, or websites do you visit on a regular basis?
This list is constantly growing daily. I definitely go to Behance multiple times a day, by far my favorite site and community. I also go to a few blogs that always have great inspiration; DesignYouTrust, FromUpNorth and DigitalAbstract. Not to mention, I am always following my twitter, dribble and sometimes pinterest.
What would you say is the most important lesson you have learned throughout your career?
“-Never be afraid to try things, there’s always an undo button.
-The number one thing you should always be marketing is yourself – even in your own workplace.
- Trust your instincts, if you gut says it isn’t right, then it probably isn’t right.
- MOST IMPORTANT, if you love what you do, and the rest will be easy!”
Thanks very much for your time, any final words for our readers?
No, I think you covered it all…
To view more of Mike Campau’s work visit his website at www.mikecampau.com