Deborah Garcia
BFA in Illustration
Art Director for Fantasy Flight Games

In a couple sentences, describe what you do for work and how you feel about it.

I just started as an art director for Fantasy Flight Games and I'm very excited about it!

How did you get your job? 

I only just recently got hired, largely due to my experience with the job I am leaving. For four-and-a-half years I was with Concrete Software Inc., an indie mobile gaming studio, as the senior game artist. My education, my experience at Concrete, my involvement with the local comics and illustration community in Minneapolis, and my position as intern supervisor for Concrete's art department are all things that helped me stand out as a candidate. And of course, my love for sci-fi and fantasy!

What was your major and how did you choose it? Was it the right choice?

Illustration. I'm an illustrator, so it was a no-brainer for me. I loved my education and I loved being in the illustration program. I am without a doubt a stronger illustrator because of it.

Who was your favorite teacher and why?

I loved all of the illustration instructors, but I particularly admired Jason Greenberg. He left soon after I graduated, but I really loved his teaching style. 

Tell us about your internship.

I had an internship with a local author to work on his children's book. Honestly, it wasn't great. I had no art director to confer with, and it was mostly me sending him lots of art that only he saw. It really warned me off of working directly with an author without a publisher between us. In fact, I now also work with Beaver's Pond Press making children's books, and it's a great experience working through the publisher, with an editor speaking on my behalf.

Best thing you ever got/saw on the free shelf?

Someone once dropped a whole library of fantasy and sci-fi lit on the shelf. I was in heaven! 

Name your one biggest takeaway from MCAD?

Community! For a short time after graduation, I returned to my home in South Texas and tried to work and find a position. It was so difficult being away from other artists and finding the drive to make creative work. I simply must be part of a community of artists, or else I stagnate. While I was at MCAD I made connections and felt part of a greater force of creative people, and learned how to cultivate my part in the community. MCAD taught me to build around myself a support network that's been invaluable to my work.

What inspires you/your work?

A mix of narrative works by artists I admire and a drive to be part of the communities I love. 

Do you have a favorite artist?

I have tons of favorite illustrators and concept artists, but the ones that inspire me most are James Jean, Brian Froud (particularly his puppets), and Eyvind Earle.

What advice do you have for current MCAD students?

Establish yourself within the community you want to be involved in. Don't just make art by yourself. Confer with other artists in your field; go to events; attend lectures, readings, and galleries; talk to people. If possible, join a studio with other working artists that you can establish a rapport with. These are all worth the support system you can build around yourself, and will absolutely make your work stronger. You shouldn't always be the only person looking at your work before it's done.

How do you network yourself and your art?

Go to shows, talk to people, attend conventions. I keep my website and my portfolio up to date. I go through my networks to see what freelance I can get to add variety to my portfolio. Try to make more opportunities in the offers you're given. I turned a single freelance project working on a children's book to a permanent freelance position with the book's publishing company. It's absolutely worth it to cultivate a relationship with clients you meet through freelancing.

Do the Twin Cities offer many opportunities for creatives?

Absolutely! There's something in the Twin Cities for everyone. The gaming community is gaining momentum, and there's ample opportunity for cartoonists and illustrators. 

Current obsession?

I've always been a big reader, and my current obsession is with queer sci-fi and fantasy literature. I think of myself as a pretty reliable source for all things queer in sci-fi/fantasy lit.