Justin Fields is a concept artist who seems to be able to do just about anything. His work ranges from creatures to costume design to matte painting to graphic design. Now based in Los Angeles, he founded Ironklad Studios in 2014 and has worked on huge titles such as Jupiter Ascending, Maleficent, Noah, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Wolverine and many more.
In this interview, he discusses the new IP he’s working on, some upcoming projects, his daily struggles and artists he looks up to.
I enjoy working on projects for others but if I’m being honest, working on my current IP has been the most fun and nerve racking project I have every done. Making sure you carve out time to work on your own stuff is so important. I can’t stress that enough. Even if it’s taking a tutorial that you want to learn and applying it to a project you are working on, it not only helps build your skills but it also expands your portfolio.
Tell us about one of your most exciting projects.
Working on Goosebumps was a great time. Sometimes it would just be Neville, myself and a few storyboard artists in a room. Watching that process take was super exciting. Working with ADi on Bright was a lot of fun, mostly because I am a huge fan of RPG and it reminded me a lot of DnD and Shadowrun games. I am really excited to be working with Lorne Lanning on a project coming up soon as well. Team based projects are a lot of fun. I really enjoy those gigs the most. I’m most excited for a comic for our IP that we’re developing as well as an art book.
What were or are some of your biggest obstacles working as an artist?
Really understanding the business side of art. I am constantly learning and questioning everything that I hear. A lot of art schools don’t prepare you to understand the complex ways in which you will do business as an artist. Understanding rates, contracts, negotiations, NDA, rights to share the work, all of these and more are what I have been having to navigate for Ironklad Studios, as well as for myself. Most days I have at least 3 hours or emails, updates, management and art direction to do before I get to sit down and work on my skills as an artist. It’s a juggling skill that takes a while to get used to. So in a round about way to answer this, it seems time is my biggest obstacle.
You need time to work on your craft and time away from it to really grow. You need miles on your soul just as much as you need them on the canvas. I have a lot of projects I want to try my hand at, so I have to get better at managing it. These days I tend to make career bucket list things like work with Magic the Gathering, work with ILM, Weta, Blizzard, put out a collectible statue line, put out my own book, direct a short, do a cover for Heavy Metal, make a Gnomon DVD…. Stuff like that where it breaks me out of my shell in a good way and I get to work on things that inspired me to become an artist in the first place.