We had the good fortune of connecting with Bryan Norton and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Bryan, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Life is all about risk management and how you perceive risk-taking. No matter what your profession is eventually there is a risk you take at some level. It may be high or low or somewhere in the middle, but it is always there. As an artist, I knew I was entering a world full of risk and maybe more so than say being in a “safe” job. Being an artist almost requires a certain level of risk tolerance just to participate. To thrive, it demands it.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My career started out in a little sign shop in Simi Valley, called A to Z signs. I had dreamed of working in special effects for movies and got my chance soon after at Dream Quest Images where I got a chance to learn miniature model making and set building for motion control shots and practical effects shots for movies like Armageddon and Con Air. From there I left to attend Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California to study Illustration and entertainment design. That is where the real struggle began. I think I had it easy up until that point. Art Center completely changed me and challenged me in ways I could never have predicted. It really helped shaped who I am today. I was challenged artistically, physically, mentally, spiritually, financially, to the limits. I learned patience, perseverance, fortitude, tenacity, and humility. I started with nothing as well, I didn’t have a cent and was fortunate to have an angel investor who believed in me. I struggled to find myself as an artist while I was in art school and so I took a year off. It was during that time that I landed my first job in video games as a concept artist for Treyarch/Activision. I really got my first taste of the industry for a year, but really wanted to go back to school and finish what I started. It was a chance to start over and reinvent myself, something I can honestly say is something I’ve been doing ever since.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’m heavily biased towards Old Town Pasadena mostly because I used to live in the area and went to Art Center, so that was my stomping grounds with plenty to see and do in a small area. I would take friends on gallery tours of Art Center and then the smaller local art galleries in Old Town, maybe get some lunch at Lucky Baldwin’s or Conrad’s. I also loved checking out the bookstores, but that was back in the day before they got destroyed by online book retailers. Those were great places to meet up with friends, check out cool new books and magazines, and grab some coffee on the way to somewhere else. Times have changed, but I still like the idea of spending all day in a book store or art supplies store until I’m hungry enough to leave. Haha! For those who haven’t been, taking the time to see a film at the Arclight was always well worth it and a unique high-quality cinema experience that I was sure to put on the interary.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My best friends Scott, Nick, Aaron, Tawana, and Jason. My pals from Pandemic Studios and my friends from Art Center.
Bryan Norton, Pandemic Studios, LucasArts, Electronic Arts