Game Art & Design
You have to go above and beyond the competition. Caleb Tomplait Bachelor of Arts in Game Art & Design, 2010 , The Art Institute of Phoenix
Caleb Tomplait is a lead artist for Activision Blizzard Raven Software, focusing on creating environment art while managing a team of five artists. His group creates models and textures—as well as oversees set dressing and optimization of content. Caleb is responsible for managing the team’s schedule and assigning tasks based on content needs.
Prior to joining Activision, Caleb gained industry experience working for Far Edge Studios (formerly Mobileaze LLC) as a user interface artist creating content for IOS and Android applications. He also worked as a graphics leads at Insty Prints of Mesa, running the graphics department and working on graphic design, branding, and content creation for corporations.
From the start, Caleb’s career goal was to work in a managerial position, so he surrounded himself by people who could help him to reach the goal. He offered help when needed and built trust within the organization. “In a short period of time, I became the go-to guy for many tasks, which ultimately lead to a manager’s position a few years later.”
Caleb says that his education at The Art Institute of Phoenix provided a strong foundation for his career—and gave him the drive he needed to pursue a future in game development. “This type of work takes many hours to perfect—and experience is needed to become a viable artist on software that is changing just as fast as hardware,” he states. Caleb adds that he also learned strong communication skills while in school. “It’s probably one of my best soft skills. My education facilitated this with group projects that included conversations that were sometimes difficult, but necessary to move a project forward.”
Today, Caleb begins his workday with email, coffee, and a team meeting. He describes his office environment as inviting and relaxed but admits that tough deadlines can be stressful to meet. He’s focused on developing the last eight Call of Duty titles—including the latest release titled “Call of Duty: WWII.”
When he’s facing a difficult to reach goal, Caleb focuses on his passion for his career. “I ask myself ‘how bad do I want it?’ and realize that there will always be competition but want to make myself an attractive candidate. You have to go above and beyond the competition.”
Even in school, he heeded this advice, working to complete his assignments on time and taking on projects that tested his knowledge and skills. Caleb emphasizes that the industry is constantly changing, and lifelong learning is a must. “Be prepared to be in a constant state of change, so you can adapt quickly to the fast changing technology.”
He’s found himself in situations where he had to learn quickly and step into new territory. “As a lead artist, I find myself wearing different managerial hats for different situations. All of the artists that I’m in charge of give and receive information differently, so I must adapt to their style of communication in order to get the results I desire.” Caleb says that this can be a challenge, especially when he’s on deadline. He’s addressed it by keeping an open line of communication within his team and insisting that everyone stay current on techniques.
As a manager, Caleb is proud that he’s able to motivate and energize his team. He’s built an environment of respect where he’s able to focus on art and managerial tasks while knowing his team will give their best efforts. “I continue to review their progress on a weekly basis and offer advice to reach larger goals like promotions.”
He mentions that seeing a fan wearing his team’s jacket or other gear makes him feel great. “It gives me hindsight into the hard work I put into a project. While there were struggles throughout, those struggles pale in comparison to happiness I see on a fan’s face when they play a game I worked on.”
In addition to his career, Caleb gives back to the community by mentoring students, speaking at schools, and engaging with aspiring artists. “I know what it’s like to be in a student’s shoes and how much work it takes to get where I am today. I never sugar-coat my experience and I am always honest about feedback. I know I am helping someone who could potentially be a future co-worker.”