People of Kuato: Cartooning around with Jason
Our latest blog focuses on another of Kuato’s talented artists, Jason Williams. Jason is a 3D artist, and currently works on Disney Story Realms and Marvel Hero Tales. It’s fitting, really, as Jason is a cartoon-enthusiast who claims one of his greatest achievements is having watched every single episode of Power Rangers.
What do you do at Kuato Studios?
I’ve been a 3D artist at Kuato since 2018. I create 3D models that are used as characters, props, or as part of the environment in our games. The titles I’ve worked on so far are Robozuna, Disney Story Realms and Marvel Hero Tales.
I love the variety in my job; one day I’m drawing Mickey Mouse, and the next I’m making Halloween costumes for pedestrians in Marvel. Sometimes I’m drawing a bin…
The fact that I bounce between different projects and tasks keeps me passionate and interested. It’s awesome to see the progression in the games as time goes on – they’re constantly evolving and improving. It’s definitely an exciting time to be working at Kuato.
What are your earliest memories of drawing?
I have always been a huge Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan and my earliest memories of drawing were all about the turtles. I remember my older brother teaching me how to draw them. At school, however, was when I really got into drawing, copying images from stickers and cereal boxes. During my primary school years, Pokémon came out, and I spent a lot of time drawing them – there were so many different fascinating shapes and details in the different varieties. I drew a lot of characters from Sonic the Hedgehog too.
I’m originally from Guyana, South America, but moved to the UK when I was 14. During the summer of 2006 I bought several art books to keep me entertained and learned how to draw graphite portraits. While a few of my friends were doing paper rounds to earn a bit of cash, I was getting paid drawing neighbours’ family members and pets.
How did that transfer from a hobby to a professional trade?
I’ve always had a fascination with drawing and painting so a profession in art felt natural.
After education, I still wasn’t 100% on what path I wanted to take exactly. There are so many paths to choose from, but finding the right one for me took some time. I’ve always been a fan of gaming but thought the dream too far out of reach to be possible, especially originating from a country of less than 1 million people from halfway across the world.
I worked several non-art related jobs over the course of three years, all while trying to improve my art skills in the evenings and/or in my free time. It was during this time that I made friends with other artists online and learned more about what they did. After hearing about being a games artist and what the role entails on a daily basis, I decided to pursue this by going to Teesside University to study Computer Games Art. In order to be a games artist, I needed to learn how games are put together.
University really gave me the opportunity to understand what it means to work as a team on a project.
What advice would you give to a recent graduate or someone starting a job in your field?
The best advice I can give is be willing to absorb as much as you can, but also try to be as team-oriented as possible. There’s that old saying that team-work makes the dream work and it rings true. You can be the best artist in the world, but when it comes to making games, if you’re not a team player then the team might be better off without you.
I would also say that as much as you love and are passionate about games, so is everyone else that you would be working/socialising with. If you’re a graduate looking for a foot in the door at a networking event, or even if you’ve been hired and you’re looking to get to know more members of your team at a social event, remember that it can get a bit exhausting of talking about games all the time. Games are an art form, and practitioners of said art form draw inspiration from many different things, not just games alone. Try to have a more relaxed approach to conversing with members of the gaming community.
Which artists/ games inspire you?
I’m majorly inspired by highly stylised games, especially Rayman Origins and Crash Bandicoot. There’s so many that deserve a mention – the storytelling in God of War, the dynamic visuals of Overwatch, the simplicity and refinement of Animal Crossing, the sound design in The Last of Us…
Some of my favourite artists include: Kim Jung Gi, Renaud Galand, Charlie Bowater, Jason Chan, Lauren Auty (Bimmling), Brandon Lawless and Dylan Ekren to name a few.
Which pieces of your work are you most proud of and why?
It’s difficult to say which piece of artwork I’m most proud of but if I must say then it would probably be my take on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as a personal project. As mentioned earlier, I’ve always been a fan of the turtles and to think about the times of my older brother teaching me to draw them, to developing my skills to the point where I can conceptualise my own take on them, brings it full circle really. I may revisit them in future and maybe expand on doing other characters in that universe also.