AIE Alumni Spotlight: Talon Grijalva

Talon Grijalva (Game Art & Animation) was honored with the AIE Legacy Award for the graduating class in 2019. The Legacy Award recognizes an individual's impact that they have left at AIE and will continue to bring with them into the industry. Those who have earned the Legacy Award have proven themselves to be especially consistent and reliable throughout their education at AIE, persevering even when times were tough. With their trademark extra-mile work ethic and team morale-boosting leadership, they remain authentic inside and outside the studio. Going above and beyond is essential no matter how large the goal, and nothing ever stands in their way of achieving success.

Talon has made his industry breakthrough as a Character/Environment Artist Intern at True Industries.

Think back to Day 1, when you started your journey at AIE. What were your goals then?

Talon: Back when I started at AIE I was just happy to finally be in the area where I could have a real chance of making it in this industry. I was here to gain more momentum and to make the connections I never would have in Iowa - and I like to think I've accomplished this goal ten-fold, I've made so many lifelong friends at AIE and I'm eternally grateful.

Share your fondest memory while attending AIE. Where were you? Who was with you?

Talon: I have a lot of fond memories during my time at AIE, I could talk about the picnic we had where I brought a watermelon and cut it right there in Seattle Center with a big ol’ kitchen knife like a psycho. Or I could talk about Mac n’ Smack time. But I think my favorite memory was starting minor production with Corwin, Xander, and Shea. Minor production was something we all had been looking forward to, and we all haven't had a lot of interactions before that point, but we came together and started collaborating quickly and efficiently. I don't remember anything going wrong on that project and our delivery was amazing and something we were all super proud of. That was the first time I ever felt like I was a part of a team that was able to operate on a super high level.

"I saw the trailer for Silksong and I had to do a piece in celebration of Team Cherry announcing their second game." - Talon

Now that you’ve graduated, what are you looking forward to? Has your mindset changed since you started?

Talon: Graduation kind of hit me hard, I won't lie. I'm going to miss seeing my friends consistently. But I'm looking forward keeping up with everyone and starting to explore my individual artistry. I don't feel like I'm in a race against the clock anymore, I'm okay with taking my time creating art because I want to, not because I have to get my next piece out for my portfolio.

"A scene I put together to test out and experiment with Unity's HDR pipeline." - Talon

What was the most important lesson you learned that you'd like to pass onto those starting their journey at AIE?

Talon: I think my biggest takeaway came at the end of my second year. I made the decision to switch from environment art to character art because I absolutely did not enjoy doing environment work. I spent too much time worrying about the easy way in and appeasing other people rather than doing what I think is fun and what I will enjoy. Let yourself be an artist, do what clicks for you, I denied myself that because I wasn't interested in the competition of being a character artist, but it doesn't have to be about that. I'm going to make characters because that's what I have fun doing, and I'm going to be good at what I do, that's all that should matter. Free yourself from outcome, change your mind 50 times and sculpt yourself into the person YOU want to be, not what will be easier or what other people say you should do. Have fun! You're in for a heck of a ride.

Feeling inspired? You can follow Talon's journey on social media!

Twitter | Artstation | LinkedIn

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