Ryan M Paxton
This is slightly extended biography, rather than a summary, cataloging my growth as an artist from the beginning of my exposure to the internet’s artwork offerings in 2002 when I found a website, deviantART. Before that, I had mostly just doodled things growing up, trying to take after my mother – an oil painter, life artist, and technical writer. Things changed when I found this online community. It really birthed my interest into actually applying myself and doing art for others rather than myself. I began to write my own comics in middle school and experiment with the digital art production. It wasn’t until taking a bundle of art classes that I really began to learn just what it took to be an artist. I finally got my hands on my first set of paints, canvas, and art pencils as a freshman in high school.
In high school, I focused on both music and arts, being a part of the philharmonic orchestra as the lead chair on double bass. I took as many art and media classes as I could – Drawing & Painting, Video, Computer Graphics, two years of Art Elective, and finally ending with college courses in AP Drawing and AP 2D-Design. It was here where I versed myself in Photoshop and began making 2D illustrations of outer space and other science-fiction related works. I entered many shows – Scholastic, Governor’s, etc., and even though I never won anything or placed in a competition, my senior portfolio received a maximum grade from the AP board. On the side I performed for the city at municipal festivals and gatherings with my brother. We had started an acoustic Celtic band – myself on guitar, him on violin. While this was a large part of my identity, I ultimately decided to focus on visuals rather than music for my career. I also spent a lot of time in Christian ministry in my free time. For nearly 4 years I worked as a youth leader for Young Life (a social youth group outside of any specific church) and an Adult Sponsor for my local Baptist church. As these four short years flew by, I graduated from Wyoming High School in 2007.
Being in Cincinnati, my college choice was the University of Cincinnati. Specifically, I was accepted into their DAAP program for Industrial Design. I also applied to two other schools – Indiana University / Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI) for New Media, and Huntington University for Digital Media Arts – Animation. Without much reluctance, I jumped at the chance to attend DAAP as it was considered the best program in the country with Co-op and other opportunities. I spent a year there in foundation courses for color theory, space, form, and drawing. It was very hands-on and it made me realize that I was focused on 2D art forms and movement rather than the 3D space necessary for strong industrial design. These foundation courses informed what I really wanted – to tell story through narrative works – animation, video games, and other interactive experiences. I wanted to become an animator. I renewed my application at Huntington University and transferred in the fall of 2008. Being a Christian private school, it not only helped foster my creativity, but it also helped keep me rooted in my faith.
I earned my Bachelor of Science in Digital Media Arts – Animation from HU in 2012. While studying at HU, I gained the skills and experience necessary to propel me towards working in the industry. The first real opportunity for this came about in 2010, when I earned an internship at Kinetic Concepts, Inc. (now Acelity) in San Antonio, Texas. I was technically an intern for the Concept Management Team, however, my job was virtually that of a 2D Animator using Toon-Boom. In three months I created a short, three-minute cartoon from scratch. I went through pre-visualization, concept art, storyboards, keys, in-betweens, color, and sound design by myself. It was all digitally hand-drawn and it was a total blast!
Before summer 2011, I finished my Senior Project. It was a six-minute long music video about an astronaut who can’t find earth. It was animated in After Effects using particles and the puppet tool on vector illustrations. It was submitted to the senior showcase in May of that year. While it didn’t place, I think that the overall reception was positive. After not being able to obtain the rights for the song I chose, I reached out to a musician, Stephen Yonkin, who offered to compose an original piece for “Kuiper’s Sail”. After making this addition, I submitted it to multiple festivals, in the end winning a regional Silver Addy Award.
After school was out for summer 2011, I placed an internship with Motion Capture NYC doing motion graphics and 2D animation work. I went out to NYC for the job and was offered an independent contract after my internship there. I continued animation work with the company until mid 2012. This endeavor alone led me to score a 2D animation position with start-up game studio, Misfits Attic, in San Francisco. The work was remotely based, and I’d finally earned my beginnings in the video game industry. Upon release of A Virus Named TOM, I achieved my first video game credit. The game is available on Steam, and it’s gone up for numerous awards, featured alongside Fez and other indie games in multiple Humble Bundles. Without a doubt, video game animation is my focus as an artist. Let’s hope that 2D never dies out! This is a video of that game:
After work with Misfits Attic came to a close, I was free to experiment and work on my portfolio. I did monthly drawing challenges and applied to just about any job I could find online. I landed some freelance work the Team 2-Bit working on their game called Fist Puncher. I animated one of the in-game cinematics before the game was released on Steam – my second video game credit. Around that time I was called in to do some freelance work with a studio in Reading, Pennsylvania, called Neo-Pangea. It was to be a short character animation contract, but turned into so much more. After proving myself to be a valuable asset to their team, I was hired on full-time. Now, in winter 2014, I have worked their for over two years as an animator, illustrator, motion graphics designer, and more. I have worked on dozens of projects, websites, interactive experiences, apps that have all stretched my artistic abilities in ways that will be beneficial in the future. The client list is long, and not something I need to list here. Most of the projects I’ve worked on at Neo-Pangea are featured in their online portfolio. You can check it out at this link: http://www.neo-pangea.com/
I live and breathe After Effects, character animation, and above all 2D. I am constantly improving myself on the side, trying to make something of myself in the indie-game community. I have been working on video games in my free time since 2012, when programmers decided to join the Mourou team that I lead. We have entered into competitions sponsored by Develteam, and indie-game developer community. In 2013, our first video game completed as a team won the Develteam Summer Game Jam competition. V∆MPSP!RE took home first place and was above all else, a major confidence boost. We completed the game from scratch in less than two weeks. In 2014, we likewise took it upon ourselves to compete a second time. We completed our game, Rook, in less than a week, using the experience I’ve gained over the years at Neo-Pangea to produce top-quality animation in a short amount of time. You can watch a playthrough of Rook below.
I am always searching for collaborations and other endeavors. Should you be reading this page and want to discuss a project, please get in touch with me. You can contact me using the contact page of my website (check the tabs at the top of this page) or just click the button below to head on over to my LinkedIn profile.