Q&A: Jesse Wilson, artist in the digital world

Jesse Wilson is an example of how art is evolving in the digital age. Not only does he use his degree in computer sciences for his IT work at UNB, but he freelances as a graphic designer, not only for the UNB Student Union, but more recently for high level gaming competitions, like Evo in Las Vegas, and Red Bull.

What initially drew you to graphic design?

I’ve always had a thing for art. I come from a small community and a small school. My graduating class would have only been about 20 people. So everyone kind of had their own thing and mine was art. I guess graphic art is just kind of the digital evolution of that. So when I was a kid, it just kind of evolved into graphic design from drawing in notebooks and stuff.

Which of the projects that you’ve worked on so far would you say has been your favourite?

Probably the coolest one I did was one of the most recent ones. I worked for Red Bull a little bit. It was for their gaming section. So they have a couple of, like, professional players that stream under their title. So I got to do their stream graphics, which was cool. It was the first project that was commissioned by their company, so that was pretty sweet.

You’ve done a lot of work for gaming competitions. What games are you interested in?

I guess it’s just kind of anything that’s competitive. So there’s the e-Sports community and that’s kind of what I work a lot with, so a lot of the gaming I do revolves around that. So pretty much, whatever games I’m working with in graphic design kind of changes what I’m playing. So I did a lot of graphic design in the Halo community, I played a lot more Halo. So now that I’m doing a lot more Smash Bros stuff, I’m playing a lot more Smash.

Do you get your inspiration for graphic design art from the video games you’re playing?  

Yeah, I guess so. Whenever I’m working with a Nintendo title and doing graphics for that, my designs tend to be more colourful and simple. Whereas if I’m working with a shooter, like Call of Duty or Halo or Counter-Strike, my designs are a lot more rigid and a little rougher or maybe even more technical so to speak. So there’s more detail… if that makes sense.

What’s your favourite gaming console to work with?

Oh I don’t know… I think I’ve owned everything from a PlayStation to Nintendo, X-Box and PC. I’ll just play with whatever.

And the big question… PC or Mac?

I think because I’m a bit more of a hardware-guy, because I do a lot more hardware work at my job, I like to customize my PC. So I’ve done a lot of PC [modifying] over time, so I’d go with PC just for that. But they both serve their purpose. They’re both good.

What’s been the biggest struggle in your graphic design work?

There’s two things that come to mind. The first one would be that you don’t know what’s going to come next, you don’t know if anything’s going to come next. It’s not like I put in a resume and get a job, it’s like any freelance art work. Like right now, I don’t know if I’ll ever get more work. I hope so. I think I will, but you don’t know for sure. It’s always in the back of your head like ‘this could be the last cool thing I get to do.’

The other thing would be, and I think this comes with any kind of artistic job, is a block, like a mental block. Like a writer’s block… it’s kind of the same thing. I’ll work in the same kind of style for a few months and sometimes you just get hit with it and you just can’t pump out any new work. And any new work you can put out, you’re just not satisfied with.