Ever since I was consciously able to make art, I have, in one form or another. From an early age, I remember attempting to draw my favorite cartoon characters. Transformers, Ninja Turtles, He-Man, The Real Ghostbusters (and art from the actual movies), I drew pretty much it all. In school, I excelled in art classes, when I stayed focused, and also in other areas, such as math and English. It pains me to say it now, but once upon a time, back in middle school and through the early part of High School, I was in the Gifted and Talented level for math and English – the equivalent of what later became Honors classes. I was told that I could easily have done the same in science class, were I to have applied myself. Through it all, art always helped me excel further, allowing me to attend a magnet school for the arts in High School, which offered college-level courses in all manner of artistic venues, be they traditional sculpture and painting, video production, or even 3D modeling. I did not attend for the 3D modeling, but I was able to try out a demo of one of the programs back then, something I only remember vaguely. It was here that I found myself gravitating toward video production, or more precisely, a penchant for telling whole stories through the medium of directing, writing, and editing, eventually with the hope of perhaps taking Hollywood by storm with my creative tales.
Due to tumultuous times at home and my own admitted personal drifting, I did wind up falling far from that lofty status by the end of High School, dropping the Gifted and Talented sections for regular classes, and barely passing even those. However, over the next decade of personal growth, I wound up back in school and back on a laser-focused track toward my goal of becoming a film director. During my time out in the private sector, I found discipline through working, first up the chain in restaurants and a deli from cook to Daytime Manager, and even using connections in the office building we were housed to land a very steady job with a fleet leasing company of vehicles to all of the major companies in the US, and many abroad. It paid well and for three years I built up enough money to make my return to the pursuit of what I imagined was my ultimate career in film. I attended first a very unique Community College in Upstate New York, Tompkins Cortland Community College (TC3), where I was able to take both video production classes, learning to produce an actual on air show that broadcast each season, as well as more creative classes where I could fashion together a reel of narrative works. This reel enabled me to get a scholarship to one of the best Film schools in the country, Art Center College of Design, in Pasadena, California. The same school the likes of Tarsem Singh, Michael Bay, and Zack Snider all attended.
Even with the money I had saved, along with loans, working part time, and money my father was lending, the financial burden of living there and attending school did eventually become too much, which was unfortunate, since I was only two terms away from my Bachelors of Arts in Film. I had created at my time there a narrative reel with the first scene of one of the three feature-length scripts I had written, and simultaneously had been told I had made the Dean’s List for that term, while also told I had so many days to pay what the loans would not cover. I was forced to try and make a living in Hollywood without graduating, if that could be possible. Hollywood is a pretty demanding place and can eat up both your finances and your will very quickly, however. Without much to show for it in the bank account, I wound up with a part in an episode of I Didn’t Know I was Pregnant, playing an English doctor, wrote and was partially paid for 3 more movie scripts, edited two features, one of which I also was the Assistant Director/Second Unit Director on, as well as cast for one of the three lead roles. This all was promising and I had high hopes, but once again the financial burden became too great to continue to bear, so I wound up returning home to regroup.
It was during this time that I wound up pursuing other art mediums. My foray into Photoshop increased and I learned all that I could, winding up making grand scale scenes of fan fiction on gaming series, for contests, and even for historical figures. I found some success here and while doing this, it came to me that I had always wanted to try delving into the inner workings of video games. It had become quite clear to me over the years that the industry for games was intensifying in their portrayal of engrossing and deep stories. Even while attending school for Film studies, I noted that perhaps the real horizon for storytelling lay in the video game industry. My skills were not in programming, but perhaps in the art that it takes to bring games to life I could do something there. I’d always wished that so much more had been done with the Legacy of Kain series, a series that I loved possibly more than any other for its rich and engrossing storytelling, its characters, and its world. I found out a way to work on and replace the textures for the last game in the series, Legacy of Kain: Defiance. While I was knew at this, I saw the potential for doing so much even with only diffuse textures available to rework. After doing this for a year, along with my paintings in Photoshop, I gravitated toward trying my hand at the actual creation of 3D models, once I purchased 3D-Coat for painting directly onto models for the game that I had ripped. The fredom of working directly onto the models was night and day compared to simply in the 2D textures. It didn’t take long until the urge to try modeling myself took hold. This path is the path that I currently tread, sculpting my own models now in Zbrush and bringing models to life by fully texturing shaders for them and rendering. Suddenly, I had a vision, of animating the models that I create and possibly telling my own stories. It is my goal to use my new-found talents in the actual gaming industry to finally realize my internal wish to tell stories, to build worlds, and to transport people to those worlds through engaging them with my art, touching something in their lives as films, video games, and books touched mine long ago as a child.
– Patrick Johnson