If you ever wanted to get into the comic book industry, a Montreal-based school is ready to enrol you! Syn Studio offers all-day workshops on Saturdays and Sundays, in addition to weeknight courses. I met up with them at the Montreal Toy and Comic Festival where they filled me on what you want to know to become the next great artist!
According to Daniel Rabinovitch, a Syn Studio Art School administrator, the school is in the process of getting formal accreditation. They would like to offer an AEC (Attestation d’études collégiales) which is a CEGEP/college-level degree. The major would be in Concept Art.
But here’s the thing. You don’t need a degree to get a job. You need talent and experience. That’s what Syn Studio can help you with.
How to Become a Great Artist
There are other schools in the Montreal area that help talents hone their skills. The one significant difference is that Syn Studio goes from traditional concept art (e.g., hand drawn work) to digital.
So while Dawson College has a program, students are not getting traditional experience, just digital. Similarly, Concordia University offers a Fine Arts degree but if you want get the the same depth of skills that the professionals with jobs have, you need traditional training as well.
For example, if you’d like to get into creature design (for movies and video games) which is what the industry wants right now, you’ll have to show that you can handle traditional design.
Instructors with Real Experience
It’s one thing to learn the skills you need to become a comic book artist from a talented instructor but at Syn Studio brings it to a professional level by hiring instructors who have actual field experience. There are around 18 instructors but it varies by semester. The school itself has been growing for about five years.
If you register for a class, you could be taught by such industry notable as these:
- Geof Isherwood. We had the pleasure of interviewing Geof a while back where he talks about the comic book artist industry and the use of Photoshop. He’s worked for Marvel Comics and DC, on major brands like X-men, Spider-man, Daredevil, Silver Surfer, Thor, Conan the Barbarian, and Doctor Strange.
- Salgood Sam. He’s a comic book artist and illustrator who has worked on Spider-man, Ghost Rider, and Dr. Strange for Marvel Comics. He has also worked on Terminator, Ghostbusters and other comic projects.
- Dhamindra Jeevan. He’s a concept artist who has worked on such movies as X-men: Days of Future Past, Source Code, and Riddick.
- Meinert Hansen. He teaches at Dawson College and has worked on such projects as the movie 300.
- Heidi Taillefer. She’s a painter who has worked with Cirque du Soleil, the NFL, Bombardier, and the Fantasia Festival.
- Francis Back. He’s a storyboard artist who has work on TV and movies like Mummy 3 and Incendie.
- Andre Pijet. He’s a noted painter and illustrator who was recently commissioned by Google to paint a mural in their Montreal office.
- Thierry Doizon. He’s an art director at Ubisoft Montreal.
- Remko Troost. He’s a senior concept artist at Ubisoft Montreal.
…and the list goes on!
Their teachers and top students work with Ubisoft, BioWare Crop, Electronic Arts (EA), Marvel, DC, Warner Brothers (WB), Industrial Light & Magic, and Eidos.
The range of courses you can take is impressive, including such offerings as Drawing the Human Form, Nature Sketching, Foundations of Painting, Illustrative Painting, Advanced Anatomy, Digital Painting, Character Rendering, Cinematic Storyboard, Colour and Light, Interior Environments, Exterior Environments, and several others.
What Kind of People Attend?
School owner Anthony Walsh has put together a great package for students. He believes in the power of training over talent (the school motto is: “Great artists are NOT born. They are Made.”) and proudly opens the classes to anyone from 16 to 86!
Those who attend Syn Studio tend to have at least one of these reasons for doing so:
- People who wanted to take art classes all their life.
- People out of high school looking for a career.
- People who got a degree elsewhere but realize they need more training.
- People who just love art and need some help to improve their skills.
So the next time you attend Montreal Comiccon and get inspired, this is one school that may be worth taking a chance on!