What is your name and title?
My name is Andi Pike, and I am a Junior Environment Artist.
How did you get your start here at IllFonic?
In 2019, I was hired as a 3-month contract Art Intern. I was lucky enough to have my contract extended three times, and was able to work with the team for a full year on Predator: Hunting Grounds. During that time I was also going to school at University of Denver, pursuing a Master’s of Art in Technology + Education. From 2020 - 2022, after my contract expired, I finished my degree and worked as a freelance 3D artist on a ton of different projects from large-scale installation to graphic design and education.
What does an Environment Artist do?
An Environment Artist at IllFonic is in charge of the core artwork that includes construction of all world assets. This can be anything from architectural structures and large props or other hard-surface elements. And can also include organic elements such as terrain, foliage, and the ambient world including sky and background scenery.
In my role as a Junior Environment Artist I am assigned designated spaces in the game, or even more focused prop assets. I create the 3D model and textures, and then am in charge of optimizing the asset and integrating it into the game engine. Level Designers, Art Leads, and Art Directors are the ones who ultimately define the overall look and feel of the game, and I have a lot of creative freedom as long as I am working within those parameters. Essentially, I build worlds.
Just one of several props made by Andi is the Body Part Scale (shown) found in the Morgue of the MOROS Medical Facility Map.
What is your background and relationship with the arts?
As a child I was always highly creative and loved almost every art form I could get my hands on. I grew up doing ballet, playing the violin, and loved to paint, sculpt, make jewelry, and especially loved to read. As an early millennial I was also often told that I couldn’t make a living when I was older as an artist, so throughout school, I opted to take the more difficult core classes and chose electives I was told would look good on a college application. It wasn’t until I got to college that I realized how wrong most of that advice was, and it was there that I ultimately found my way back to art.
I spent 7 years working as a fine dining Chef on the Seattle waterfront before moving to Colorado. It was after moving here that I decided to finally put down my knives and go back to school, but this time for traditional art. I enrolled at Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design as an Art Education Major, and only a few months later met a woman who would change my life forever, my mentor, Sarah Gentry. Sarah was the Chair of the Game Art department, and one cold Colorado snow-day, we bonded over books, games, the arts, and she introduced me to the world of 3D. I changed my major to Game Art and never looked back. It was the best decision of my life.
Who or what inspired you to get into 3D art?
The person who convinced me was my mentor, Sarah, but what ultimately inspired me to also choose 3D was that I always had a deep love of digital art. One of my favorite animations was Treasure Planet, simply because it was probably the first time in my life I saw a book I loved come to life and adapted in a truly memorable way. I grew up with a deep love of film, and also credit my father in a big way because he introduced me to Star Wars and many other prolific fantasy and sci-fi writers and world builders.
I remember feeling like 3D was this magical world, and to be honest for much of my life I never thought I could compete with artists working at that level. When my path ultimately led me to game art, it felt like I finally had found my home. Like I said I always loved art, but never considered myself particularly talented or skilled with traditional media. The world of 3D quite literally brought everything into perspective for me.
What game or games influenced you the most
This is such a loaded question simply because I just love to play games. I have always been highly competitive and love to play sports, and some of my best memories from the time I was a kid always include some kind of game. To this day I take great pride in my Catan collection, love a good D&D campaign, and especially enjoy puzzle-solving games. I had a Gameboy as a kid and so Mario and Donkey Kong along with PC games like Mario Teaches Typing (1992), Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego (1996), and the Logical Journey of Zoombinis are the games that started it all for me.
I grew up in Reno, NV so arcade games and casinos were everywhere and so it wasn’t until I was much older that I truly got into console games. Perfect Dark (2000) on the Nintendo 64, was my first FPS, Shadow of the Colossus (2005), my first action-adventure, and Destiny (2014), my first real fireteam. Long story short, I just love to play all kinds of games.
What game feature(s) did you have the most fun making?
I have been lucky enough to work on 3 big projects so far, and hands down my favorite is Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed. I am not just a huge fan of the franchise, but also have tons of friends and now also a 3-year-old son who are also huge Ghostbusters fans. Making art for this game has been some of the most fun I have ever had, and taking on such a beloved franchise holds a lot of responsibility.
What projects have you applied your professional skills to outside of games?
Outside of games I love to take on a lot of different kinds of projects. 3D art can be found in so many different fields of study from architecture and design to fashion, installation, and many others.
I have been lucky enough to do some large-scale installation work for an exhibition at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science which included traditional sculpture and 3D printing, augmented reality as well as audio and projection overlays. I create educational art material for game and animation courses, and also dabble in 3D fashion design using XR and AR tools.
What advice would you give to a 3D Artist who aspires to work in games?
Oh, that’s a tough question, especially since I didn’t exactly take the most direct route to a career in games. I would say the best advice I can give would be to make sure to keep actually playing the games; and all kinds of games for that matter. Games are a medium that transcend cultural boundaries and can be experienced and loved by people worldwide. Making sure you play what you create and sharing that process with others is ultimately what will make you the most successful. Every job comes with challenges but at the end of the day you have to also love to play. I believe those who never lose sight of that make the best games.
Would you like to share your online portfolio?
Of course! You can find me on a couple different platforms.