Living life the fantastical way

IMG_5721 Getting to know Shannon Cramer:

Hand-drawn and clay characters, foam swords, video games and even a giant stuffed polar bear–Shannon Cramer has an eye for fantasy and out of the ordinary. Shannon is an art student focusing on conceptual art at the University of Oregon. Conceptual art is the development of digital characters in the early stages, involving hand-drawn sketches and thousands of clay models before the characters are digitally created.

Though the University doesn’t offer a conceptual art program, Shannon has been creatively organizing classes that will provide her the necessary skills to become a conceptual artist for a video game company. Though she is finishing her fourth year, she says it will be another full year before she graduates.

When Shannon began her academic career at the University of Oregon, conceptual art was not yet on her agenda. Shannon had made it through the pre-journalism program and was accepted as an advertising major before she discovered she needed more creative freedom. Plus, she didn’t like the idea of trying to get consumers excited about motor oil. Since being picky about clients in the advertising industry isn’t much of an option, Shannon decided to take a break from journalism and relax with a few art classes where she eventually found her true calling.

Once enrolled in art classes and enjoying the work she was doing, Shannon decided to make the switch and become an art major, despite the fact that she had taken Info Hell twice in order to get through all of her prerequisites for the journalism program. But because the University of Oregon doesn’t currently offer a conceptual art major, much of the character drawing for her portfolio is done in her own time. Many of her character drawings are inspired by her and her friends’ Dungeons and Dragons characters.

To help develop her conceptual art skills, Shannon has taken design courses through the theater department in order to learn more about costume design, which is becoming more and more crucial in the video game industry as the graphic quality of games is constantly improving. Shannon says that some of the job postings for conceptual artists actually include an extensive background in costume design.

Shannon’s courses in the theater department are also helping her expand her character drawing abilities. Though she has a great deal of confidence in her creative abilities,  she is seeking out  more opportunities to practice drawing sci-fi characters as opposed to medieval characters, which are her preference. Her work with courses in the theater department have allowed her to learn more about many different aspects of costumes and characters.

To help prepare herself for a career in conceptual art, Shannon is in pursuit of an internship with a video game company. Though there are five video game production companies in the Eugene area, only one of those companies has a conceptual artist. So Shannon has expanded her internship search to include companies in Portland and Seattle. Her most current internship inquiry is with Bungie, the creators of Halo.

In addition to her work with conceptual art at the University, Shannon is also involved in a boffing/LARPing (live action role playing) realm through Club Sports. Boffing is a combat activity with foam swords and other foam weapons. Shannon’s identical twin sister and her twin’s boyfriend are the realm leaders for the University club. About 20 students are active members in the realm. A couple times a year the realm will go to events with mini competitions and giant battles.

Shannon also helped for the University’s co-ed acapella group, Mind the Gap. Though Shannon no longer sings with the group, she calls herself the acapella groupie because her twin and her twin’s boyfriend are still active members of the group so she continues to stay involved with events and performances.

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