Hello, let me introduce myself first: My name is Luise, and I’m a game design student from Leipzig, Germany, specializing in 2D art and illustration. In my 5th semester, I was scheduled for a mandatory internship, where I decided to work for Centigrade. Already during the job interview I was told about the LOUISA project, which then became a convincing factor in my decision to join this company.
I think most artists have to deal at some point with whether they can accept being poor all their lives and having to live under a bridge, or just find a job outside the art scene. The answer for me in this case was: do something with design or something. So far that has worked out well. It seems like real-life just has more tolerance for artists whose work also has utility in apps, websites, and billboards.
Surely this, and the divine guidance that the LOUISA project and I have similar names, was sign enough that I should do this internship here. Apart from that – who is not happy to be able to work on an app that can make the lives of children with cancer a little easier or even sweeter?
Every time someone asked me about my work, I would reply something like this: “I’m working on a gamified app for children and young people with cancer. You meet the companion Louis, a little cuddly magical panda who got separated from his friends because of a storm. Whenever a young patient tracks the progress of his illness using the app – for example, how his current well-being is – he receives points. Collecting points in this way allows you to go through several different levels, and for these levels, which are presented in the form of different landscapes, I create the illustrations. Before that, I got to create some concepts for the landscape types.” Awesome.
All Beginnings Are Hard
There was one tiny little snag at the beginning: I didn’t know how to use any tools to create vector graphics. But what you can’t do, you can learn! For the first few weeks of my internship, I was almost exclusively concerned with learning Adobe Illustrator, and even when I had a few months of experience under my belt, and I had definitely mastered all the basics, my daily routine still consisted of the following:
- Turn on laptop
- Make tea
- Open Adobe Illustrator
- Open Google
- How do you open the ruler tool in Illustrator?
- In Illustrator, why can’t you change that one ? color in Illustrator?
- Boy, why doesn’t that stupid crop mask work in Illustrator?
- WHY IS ILLUSTRATOR SO ABSOLUTELY BEschWJBCJNWLJNSLAJCNQJEJVNRLKVLJN
- Laptop closed, closing time!
In this regard, my internship was less Luise vs LOUISA and more Luise vs Adobe Illustrator.
Anyway, visually developing child-friendly graphics was a challenge for me. I had to exchange my otherwise semi-realistic, rather muted art style for simplified shapes, bright, gaudy colors, and playful landscapes. I had a hard time with this at first, since I usually use colors that lean towards realism, but after a while you get used to it, and you also get much better at distorting things to fit a certain, given style. This has improved the way I work in the sense that I can let go of reality sometimes and just put in the colors I feel like. Also, one thing to consider was that young children can actually be afraid of more things than you might think. That’s why you have to be careful not to accidentally include creepy smiling grimaces somewhere, or make a swamp look too scary.
Despite the initial difficulties in Illustrator, I would now even say that I’ve gotten pretty good at it!
Despite the difficulties – it was worth it!
However, all these hardships are worth it when you remember that the LOUISA app, when completed, can help many children and young people through difficult times, and ease and brighten up long, boring and exhausting times in the hospital. It feels good to know that with the help of art, you can immerse other people in a strange, exciting world and provide some comfort, especially when you mostly hear from a young age that art has no real value to society, let alone being worth money. Maybe just art is something that is worth more than money, or has a value beyond that that you can’t really put a price on. And to all the people who said I would never make money with something that goes in an artistic direction: Ätsch ätsch! I just did it!
My advice to other young artists
The advice I would give to other young artists is to try as many different directions as you can. Maybe UX design or media design is right for you. Maybe working on vector graphics is right up your alley. The experience I’ve gained in the six months will definitely be beneficial to me at some point – especially as my degree gets closer and closer and I’ll be entering the gaming industry very soon. It almost feels fake that my internship and study time will soon be over, but I can’t wait to see what else awaits me after I graduate. But the main thing is: forward.
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