HOLLYWOOD/VG ARTIST JOHN GALLAGHER ON THE MOST IMPORTANT SKILL TO JOIN THE INDUSTRY, THE BEST DIGITAL TOOLS ON THE HORIZON, WHAT YOUNG ILLUSTRATORS MUST KNOW ABOUT THEMSELVES TO SUCCEED (MF GALAXY 128)


HOW HE BEGAN HIS CAREER IN TELEVISION—BUT NOT WHERE OR HOW YOU’D THINK, DRAWING AT BIOWARE IN ITS EARLIEST DAYS, THE MYTH AND REALITY ABOUT HOLLYWOOD AGEISM + WHY OLDER ARTISTS HAVE AN ADVANTAGE

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I met John Gallagher so long ago I don’t even remember it, but we were both members of the same fannish club called ESFCAS, the Edmonton Science Fiction and Comic Arts Society at the University of Alberta. A bunch of us there wanted to be professional artists—including Adrian Kleinbergen and Nigel Tully who found work in comics, Jaemi Hardy who became a fine artist, and Marc Taro Holmes who worked in video games and Hollywood and has published instructional books on art—and you can hear my conversation with him on MF GALAXY.

But John Gallagher is a particularly amazing success story. After training at the Alberta College of Art and Design, he went to work at Edmonton’s BioWare studio as a production illustrator. Later he broke into Hollywood, and has worked on Riverdale, the 2017 Power Rangers film, Supergirl, The Flash, The Man in the High Castle, Once Upon a Time, Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome, and X-Men: The Last Stand, among many other productions.

On April 27, 2017 Gallagher spoke with me by Skype from his home in Vancouver. He discussed:

  • How he began his career in television—but not where or how you’d think
  • How he joined BioWare in its earliest days
  • The myth and reality about ageism in Hollywood when it comes to production illustrators, and where older artists have an advantage
  • The amazing digital tools he’d like to see invented and which ones are only a few years away
  • What young illustrators need to understand about themselves in order to succeed, and
  • The number one illustration skill your portfolio must demonstrate if you want to get hired by a game or film studio tomorrow

Along the way several names bubbled up, including Ray and Greg, who are Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk, two of the founders of BioWare, and Trent Oster, another founder and now the owner of BeamDog. Gallagher also cited SUB which is the Student Union Building, and HUB Mall, both at the University of Alberta campus in Edmonton. And we talked about “crunch,” the video game industry term for the predictable, long stretches of overtime at the end of any project.

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John Gallagher
John Gallagher IMDB
SFCAS Facebook
Jaemi Hardy
Marc Taro Holmes homepage
Marc Taro Holmes MF GALAXY interview
Adrian Kleinbergen
Nigel Tully
Photogrammetry

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