Maybe you’ve heard the phrase, “there’s no such thing as bad publicity.” The sentiment surrounding that statement has an edge; often spoken by people receiving just that: bad publicity. However, if that’s the case, then strictly good publicity must be a very good thing – and good publicity is something GIMM Senior Brennon Leman has been no stranger to these last couple of months. Brennon is a 3D modeler, illustrator, and animator, and this December, he was commissioned to help Medium with their decade wrap-up, The Whiplash Decade. As a student in the College of Innovation + Design, we had to reach out – and he shared a bit about how he got the work,
“I watched an interview with an artist I really look up to, and he said if you want to get it going and get jobs, you have to put your work out there and start following a lot of art directors, so I did. I started following art directors from The New York Times, Medium, and all kinds of other publications. Then I got really lucky – Medium’s Art Director reached out! Work has moved quick in this first month, as I’ve gotten a few commissions since then.”
Brennon was commissioned to create 10 GIFs for Medium’s decade wrap-up piece – and they are nothing short of phenomenal. To be a current college student and have such a large project is no small task, but productivity is not lost on Brennon. He said this when sharing the timeline of the project, “I was on my phone the other day and the first concept of the first piece I made was November 30th, and they were due on the 8th, so it was roughly 8 or 9 days to do all 10 GIFs. I didn’t get much sleep and was pretty stressed, but it was really cool to see it all turn out.”
That’s an incredibly fast turnaround! What was the process like?
“Working with Medium was really cool because they kind of just let me do what I wanted. They gave me some of the articles to read, and then I gave them concept art. After either getting approved or denied, I could go with it however I wanted. This work has been especially cool because I want my work to help speak about real-world issues. If you’ve seen The Whiplash Decade, you’ll see the articles cover a lot of sensitive topics, for some of those, I wish they didn’t have to be made – but they should be talked about, and I appreciated making work that could help open some eyes to how the world should be.”
What does it mean to you to have your work featured on such a big platform?
“It means a lot, it’s honestly unreal. I saw one of my friends in GIMM with the webpage up and it felt totally unreal. As a young artist especially, I have found it to be so cool to have my work recognized and accessible. I hope that moving forward, more people can see it and want to work with me as well.”
If Brennon looks familiar, that’s because, well, he is. Recently as a part of the GIMM (Games, Interactive Media, and Mobile Technologies) Dev team, Brennon was recognized by KIVI for the first time for some of the work he’s been doing. That team was featured this Fall for the a VR experience they’ve created to walk hunters through the field dressing process – if you are surprised to hear VR is making its way into the world of hunting and outdoors, well, you’re not alone.
Yet that work for Fish & Game is a long ways off from what Brennon’s personal creative style would speak to. Just one glance at his Instagram (@brennonleman) shows off an aesthetic uniquely his – one that blends human and comic aspects with a message, and it’s so consistently him because he’s been at it for a while. When asked about the process to getting where he is now, Brennon shared,
“my first experience with 3D was back in 2012. I was at school studying Virtual Technology and Design at the time, and I liked it a lot, but ultimately took a break from college before coming to BSU. It was then I got back into doing 3D stuff, in the Fall of 2018 during a 3D modeling class.”
Six years between getting into the art and taking that class is quite a while! So, were you pretty far advanced in that class?
“Yeah haha, I flew through the course since I had done it all before, but it was cool because it did help me take this art a bit more seriously. About eight months ago I started making animations again with some storytelling, and three months later I started putting some of my work on social media to try to keep it consistent. At first it was a lot to post so consistently – and I began sacrificing some of my schoolwork to push some of my own content – but I follow a lot of artists I look up to, and that tends to be their number one recommendation, ‘get your stuff out there.’ That kind of explains how I got this work with Medium!”
GIMM may seem like the obvious choice of major for someone with a skillset like Brennon’s, but to him, the decision didn’t have all that much weight (at first). When asked why he chose GIMM, Brennon elaborated,
“It was completely random, actually. I lived in California for 3 ½ years, and when I moved back and came to BSU I didn’t know what I wanted to study. My said to me, ‘You could try this [GIMM],’ and I was like, ‘Sure,’ haha, but it’s been awesome because it’s turned into much more than I expected.
What’s your favorite aspect of GIMM? Why should others get involved?
“Honestly, the community and all the friends I’ve made. The people I get to work with are awesome. A lot of people that are really successful in art and development are people who take the field really seriously. I think for me, GIMM was a reality check that I needed to get into this work professionally and it really ignited some passions within me. I think GIMM is a really serious major and requires a lot of work but if you want to be in these fields, it is a great entry point.”
We’re glad to hear Brennon has enjoyed the GIMM program, and are incredibly excited to see where he goes from here. Naturally, that begged the question, however, about his future plans and dreams.
“The dream is to keep doing freelance work remotely in Boise if I can. I love Boise, my family’s in Boise and I’d love to stay here while getting freelance jobs. The plan is to just keep doing what I’m doing, but step it up. A lot of my work is out there but I want to keep pushing it and my animation skills, and keep putting it all out there.”
Brennon will graduate this upcoming May of 2020. His work is mainly shared out through his Instagram (@brennonleman), and Medium’s The Whiplash Decade can be read on Medium’s website. We’re pretty excited for Brennon, and if we know one thing for sure, it’s this: we’ll be seeing a lot more of his work in the future.