UA student steps into realm of professional art with video game designs and more
Breaking into a creative profession is never easy, but one UA student is already working on achieving his dreams and becoming a professional artist.
Joshua Meehan, a studio art senior in the visual and communications BFA program, started his artistic career early.
“I’ve been drawing since I can remember,” Meehan said. “My mom would tell me I would take crayons and markers and draw all over the white walls. It was an addiction from the very beginning.”
His family first realized his talent came during a kindergarten self-portrait assignment. According to Meehan, while everyone else stuck to stick figures, he spent the whole day drawing himself with as much detail as possible.
“It was at that point that my teacher was like, ‘You need to seriously look into this,’” Meehan said. “I went into home schooling and it was just private art lessons all the time.”
Meehan was homeschooled until his sophomore year of high school, when he attended Ironwood Ridge High School in Oro Valley. Staying focused on his art, Meehan won the Congressional art competition in Gabrielle Giffords’ district in his senior year. As a result, his art hung in Congress for a year, he said.
Since he was 12 years old, Meehan had been inspired by LucasArts — a video game developer and publisher founded as an extension of Lucasfilm — and dreamed of trying video game art himself.
“I was always looking at the concept art on the computer, and LucasArts was one of the first places I could find it,” he said.
At 14, Meehan began looking at job qualifications for working at a studio like LucasArts, and he realized that the road ahead wouldn’t be easy.
“As I looked into it further, I found out that there was a lot more involved, and kind of found my specific route,” Meehan said. “I decided I was going to get my foundations done because everyone said be an artist first.”
Meehan then enrolled at the UA, going through the College of Fine Arts until he fell in love with the art he discovered hanging in the building.
“I’d always seen these figure drawing portraits up on the walls, and I was like, ‘I love these, I want to do these,’” he said.
Meehan said that with that direction in mind, he applied and was accepted to the Vis-Com illustration BFA program, along with 20 other students. For Meehan, however, a figure drawing class taught by David Christiana, a professor in the School of Art, was what he found most enjoyable.
“It’s the best figure drawing class I’d ever taken when I did get into the program … making work that focuses on telling stories and communicating ideas through visuals instead of language,” Meehan said.
His favorite piece, and his most well-known, was an assignment for the class. The work required three characters, but Meehan went above and beyond in creating a 40×27-inch giant composed of hundreds of human bodies, and titled “He Who Is Man.”
“In the process I had to do hundreds of hours of sketching just to figure out how these things worked,” Meehan said. “If a person was linked up with another person, how do they start to become the muscles and the structure of the human body?”
All his work paid off when he won first place in the visual and communications art show two years ago.
Outside the classroom, Meehan is just as busy, and he has already worked on multiple video games.
His first foray into the profession of video game artist came when he designed a snowboard for a character named Moby in EA’s “SSX.” Meehan is also the senior concept artist for an indie Mmssively multiplayer online game called “Exaro Online.”
Locally, Meehan said he was commissioned by Brad Wong, a media arts and physiology senior, to help with his senior thesis — a movie called “Gray” that will be released in 2013. The project even had a table at Tucson Comic-Con last weekend, Meehan said.
Regardless of where he ends up, Meehan said he will just be happy to be doing what he loves.
“As long as I’m one of those guys out there making art for movies and video games, then I’ll feel like I’m succeeding,” Meehan said. “I’ll be one of those guys I’ve dreamed of being.”