I began my journey as a professional artist in the animation industry, graduating from Capilano University’s Commercial Animation program in 2015 with my heart set on being a character designer.
I was lucky to be able to do that and more, and for the next six years dabbled in various other roles in animation. However, even though I learned a lot and was grateful for the experience, I had wanted to be a concept artist for video games since high school, so I tried to break into games.
Along the way, I discovered UX/UI and was utterly captured by it, starting my own personal projects and enlisting in boot camps to up my UX/UI skillset. After about four years of rejection letters, eventually I got there - as a junior artist at Pie Trap! I may have happy-cried reading my acceptance letter.
What games are an inspiration to you?
I’m a diehard fantasy nerd, so it’s of little surprise that some of my first games that left a mark are Runescape, World of Warcraft, Fable, and Dragon Age: Origins. I love games that encourage you to get really immersed in the atmosphere. More contemporary games that light my fire are Darkest Dungeon, Stardew Valley, Valheim, Hunt: Showdown and The Long Dark. I acknowledge that they seem to be in two camps; Survive A Scary Hell and Let’s Get Cozy While Farming, but that’s a good summary of the sort of games that I love!
What was the inspiration that got you into games?
Art books and my older brother - I don’t think I’d be where I am if he wasn’t subscribed to gaming magazines and making regular trips to EB Games as a kid.
I remember being so in awe of the concept art of World of Warcraft and Dragon Age, and thinking how cool it would be to say “I make art for video games”. I heard pretty early on how brutal the working conditions were, and eventually got pretty discouraged by how measly my art looked in comparison to the pros, but at a point I couldn’t not pursue it. I had met so many cool people in games and was so inspired by the torrent of indie games in recent years that it reaffirmed my drive.
Are there individuals that have motivated or inspired you?
My dad, who never stopped supporting me in my (at times, it felt like) impossible goal of “making it” as an artist, and my sister, who's my role model for pretty much everything. I’m learning to be my own cheerleader, too.
What do you wish games had more of (content-wise)?
This is a somewhat recent development, but I think a lot of people always wanted more games like Harvest Moon, Stardew Valley, and Animal Crossing. The comfy, cozy, low-stakes kind of games where you can just putt around and enjoy the little things. Now, you can barely keep up with all of the wholesome, slow, cozy games that have come out and are coming out in recent months. My Steam library and wishlist are bursting with them and it makes me very happy.
What advice would you give someone who is interested in doing what you do?
Have grit. Patience and perseverance puts you where luck can find you. Luck is a major immeasurable factor in success, but you can always find new ways to expand your horizons. You have to want to do it really, really, bad because your aspirations are going to need to withstand a lot of disappointment. There is no singular path to “making it”, and everyone “makes it” in their own unique journey. Be patient, take it slow, and keep going one day at a time.
Be authentic. There are countless, nefarious ways we enforce false narratives in our minds without noticing. We compare the reality of our lives to the highlight reel of peoples’ successes, best works, and peak form. We may also come to the conclusion that we have to chase trends, conform to a certain style, or behave a certain way to succeed. We can very easily be led astray from what really resonates with us, the kind of things that we want to see more of in the world. The work we create will, likely, manifest more of that kind of work, so the best way to do what you love is to, well, do what you love. Find your obsession and get lost in it, because that adoration and authenticity always shines through. Be honest with yourself and be good to others.
Prioritize wellness. We as human beings need rest. If we push ourselves too hard for too long, all we are doing is borrowing that time from the future when we inevitably crash and burn. If you don’t create space to rest, your body will eventually force you to rest… through injury or burnout. You could be out of commission for weeks, months, or years while trying to heal that damage. For the sake of your wellbeing, for the sake of the work that you love, take breaks. Practice frequent self care. Look after yourself the way you would your pet or child or loved one.
What is it like working on Forage Friends?
I love plants. I love walking. I love games. It’s a pretty sweet gig. But really, I’m so proud of what we’re making.
It’s the kind of game I want to see put into the world, made by people who really care and are skilled enough to do it justice. Even on the occasion that we’re not totally certain how to proceed on a given step, it’s an open floor to problem solve and get there together. It feels super collaborative, and I know that energy will shine through the final product. And, as a homebody, working from home is a nice perk, too.
Is there anything different about working at Pie Trap compared to your previous job?
I think it takes the cake for one of the best jobs I’ve ever had (and I’m not just saying that because Chris and Pri are probably reading this ;) ). Chris and Pri have cultivated a supportive, welcoming, and balanced working environment where open dialogue is encouraged daily, and are always curious about what their artists’ interests are so that they may support them in pursuing those interests through work.
What is something that surprised you when working on Forage Friends or Pie Trap Studios?
When I was brought on to the team, Forage Friends was still just a concept for a gamified walking-gardening app. A few months into production, we suddenly went, “This is a dating sim now” and the rest is history. That was a fun surprise.
What was something you’re really proud of when working on Forage Friends?
My coworkers. Anytime they share something they’ve made, I’m like, “Wow. That is so insanely cool.” It’s super inspiring to see the fruits of our labor coalesce, bit by bit, into a tangible game. Everybody is so cool and skilled. It’s awesome.
What kind of impact are you hoping to make with the release of Forage Friends?
I know deeply what it’s like to struggle with motivation, especially regarding fitness. I also know how many myths, misinformation, and confusion can come from trying to dip your toe into the fitness world, and that can be discouraging even before you start. I hope that Forage Friends can act as a gateway through the barriers that arise when people are trying to get into - or back into - those little but meaningful daily acts of self care. Walking is such a simple way to do that, and why not have a little extra fun while doing it?
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I have a concerning obsession with D&D. I love to play, I love to DM, I love making characters and interacting with other peoples’ characters and playing make-believe and doing fun voices and making my players freak out over a scary monster. It’s a collaborative problem-solving, story-telling, world-building smorgasbord.