Trevor Claxton is senior concept artist at Riot Games. Mainly self-taught, he has worked in the industry for seven years, on titles such as Incognito Entertainment’s Warhawk, CCP Games‘ EVE Online and Dust 514 and Epic Games‘ Gears of War: Judgment. He has also worked on illustrations for book covers and Magic: The Gathering cards for Wizards of the Coast; and taught entertainment design classes. Later this month, Trevor will be one of ten leading concept artists demonstrating their workflows at Gnomon Workshop Live: a series of public demos at the Gnomon School of Visual Effects in Hollywood from 27-28 September 2014.
Tell us about your journey
When I was about 12 years old, Mega Man 2 came out and I said to myself, not knowing what concept art was: ‘I will draw videogames one day’. I drew non-stop at the cost of my schoolwork and social life.
This was in the 1990s, so there was really no way to compare yourself against the work of others. I learned a lot from comics and RPG books and the one or two friends I had that drew, but in my early twenties, the internet – and more specifically, concept art sites – was a huge eye opener, and made me realize how far I still had to go.
The biggest breakthrough in my career was my first concept art job for Sony Santa Monica. I was completely unprepared for the contract job I had landed. I was working in a conference room upstairs from the God of War art team, but I still got to see the amazing work people were doing, and it made it fairly apparent that I had no business being there.
The job I wasn’t ready for lasted about four months. It was a huge wake-up call that if I didn’t get serious, I would be left in the dust. It drove me to be fairly relentless in my study and practice. I barely worked again for two to three years.
How do you want to impact the world?
I’d love to be able to produce games of my own with a small team. I don’t see myself just as a concept artist at this point: I have stories I want to tell and I like games as a medium. My only other life goal is not screwing up my kids.
What are you passionate about?
Music, art and originality. Too many people imitate instead of even attempting to originate. I hope to inspire other artists to draw inspiration from more than just other people’s work. Life itself and the world around you are the best sources.
What would be your #1 advice to other artists?
Always keep creating. I see too many artists who get a job and then stop drawing outside of work. At the very least, if you are creating personal work at home, you’re diversifying the type of content you are capable of creating, and thereby increasing your marketability – never mind the personal satisfaction.
What are you going to be doing at Gnomon Workshop Live?
Going over some ideation techniques I use when I am in a slump or I’m tired of the general themes I am using. I will also be talking about reaching further into the unknown for inspiration: not letting things like social media define your tastes.