By Minal Abhange
Creating, designing and playing video games for a career would undoubtedly be a dream career for many people. Although Andrew Miller has enjoyed all aspects of video games from a young age, it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that he considered it as a career path.
“I realized I could turn my artistic skills into a career when I was exploring something to pursue in post-secondary,” he recalls. “I always wished, as a kid, that I could make games, but didn’t know that my passion could become my career one day.”
A native of St. John’s, the third-year Video Game Art and Design student had always dreamed of doing something different and artistic.
“When I began to explore the various technology jobs, I realized that I had many of the skills and knowledge needed for various professions in the field. It was then that I realized that designing 3D video games was a great career opportunity for me.”
Then, along came the Skills Canada competition, an event where secondary and post-secondary students showcase their skills and aim for a spot on the podium. Those who win gold in their competition area are named to Team NL and are able to compete at the nationals. Some years they even have a chance to reach the international stage!
Andrew participated in the Skills Canada Provincial Competition in March 2018 and won gold.
“I had just a month of experience with the 3D modelling software going into the provincial competition, so I was looking forward to gaining experience – winning gold was a great surprise and encouragement to keep progressing.”
This victory helped him earn a spot to compete at the 24th annual Skills Canada National Competition held in Edmonton, Alberta from June 3-7, 2018. Although he didn’t win a medal in that competition, he was selected to compete for a spot on the WorldSkills Team Canada in the 3D Digital Game Art field.
On May 28-29, 2029, at the 25th Skills Canada National Competition, Miller will compete head-to-head against a peer from Prince Edward Island. Neither of them will be eligible for a place on the podium; it’s a winner takes all as the prize will be a ticket to Kazan, Russia in August 2019 as part of Team Canada.
“Right now I am really excited for the next level of training for the Skills Canada National Competition, I am focusing on time management as well as visualizing concept art.”
Miller says his interest and passion, paired with the educational experience at CNA, were the keys to his success.
“Naturally, as I was interested in the field, I chose to further my education. However, truly my passion was groomed further, when I enrolled in the Video Game Art and Design program at CNA. I have gained both technical and hands-on-training to hone my skillsets.”
Despite the fame and accolades Andrew has achieved during the past year, he says his first priority has always been completing his diploma at CNA.
“Along with wearing the cap and gown, it will be a really proud achievement if I win a WorldSkills competition medal.”
While counting his blessings, from receiving encouragement to pursuing his dream career, Andrew says his instructor and mentor, Janice Hertel, along with his family and friends, have been very instrumental.
“I was introduced to the Skills Canada Provincial Competition by my teacher. She had been involved in the Skills Canada 3D Digital Game Art competition and encouraged me to participate. She is currently my coach and is training me as a potential member of Team Canada WorldSkills 2019.”
Janice has been involved with Skills Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) as a technical committee member on both the national and provincial levels to help develop 3D Digital Game Art for Skills Canada. She has also been integral to the formation of the 3D Digital Game Art provincial competition.
“I’m excited for Andrew and proud of his dedication,” she says. “Working with other instructors from across Canada to deliver this new skill for the national competition has been great and it supports the forward momentum of education in this field.”
Andrew says other students, who love what they do, should keep applying themselves and improve their skills.
“The main advice that I can give: be passionate about art, always try to learn something new and keep your skills sharp,” he says. “When working on your portfolio – strive for quality over quantity. It’s better to have only two amazing art pieces in your portfolio instead of a dozen mediocre ones.
“Be prepared to work hard and multitask. Even though it’s an art course, it doesn’t mean it will be a walk in the park. There will be a lot of things to learn, lots of assignments and deadlines. But remember that without hard work, there is no success.”