Introducing Jacqueline Gan-Glatz, a video game developer, specifically a 2D /3D artist and animator. Jackie was an artist on an award winning team, People ForWords, who split a grand prize of $7 million earlier this year for helping develop a treasure-hunting smartphone app with SMU and Literacy Instruction for Texas (LIFT) to help low-literate adults learn to read. She’s currently freelancing and making t-shirt designs.
Her work involves a multitude of things: concepting, logo design, GUI design, character and particle animations, and illustration.
Read on to find out what Jackie’s favorite digital art tool is, her clever use of the term “rock n’ roll” (food-related), why Spiral Diner truly is for lovers, and more about this talented Stoke member.
What has been your favorite project and/or experience working in your field?
My favorite project was my most recent one. I was an artist on a team called People ForWords, based out of SMU’s Guildhall program. The game is called Codex: The Lost Words of Atlantis. (You can find it on the Google Play store.) What made this game so different was the positive and life-changing impact our creation could have. Codex is a web and mobile reading application (game) that teaches adults how to read in English for native speakers and ELL students.
My favorite experience working on Codex has been the time we set up field testing and received the results after one month. Users were sending back heartwarming feedback, such as a grandmother was able to recognize and partially read along side her grandchild after playing Codex. Another instance was that a Spanish speaking woman was able to understand more parts of her coworkers’ conversation in the work place after one month of game play. Hearing those types of stories are priceless.
Side (but significant) note: People ForWords was a grand prize winner in the “XPRIZE [competition], in partnership with the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, [which had] two grand prize winners of the Adult Literacy XPRIZE, a multi-year, multi-phase competition focused on transforming the lives of low-literate adults across the nation.” (The grand prize was $7 million.)
What is your day-to-day like at work?
My day is centered around my family, family meaning my husband and cats. Once my husband has left for work and my cats fed, I will go running or practice yoga and then start working on my art soon after. Since I am the chef of the household, my work day tends to end at around 4:30. I’ll wok-n-roll, watch my husband smile with a full stomach, and then we talk about our day. Sharing our day’s events and lessons we have learned is one of the most important aspects of my life.
What was your path into your business/doing the work that you do?
As a child, I wanted to be two things: an animator and a comedian. I think I am doing pretty well since I achieved one of the two. I wanted to be a Disney animator and did not consider video game development at 10 years old.
How did I find out about this career path? My next door neighbor by my childhood home worked at a game development studio. Knowing my interests in art and animation, he invited me to the studio for a tour after I graduated high school. At that time they were working on a Playstation game. I walked away with a million questions: HOW do I get my foot in the door? You could say that someone nudged me in the right direction.
How do you feel about the coworking environment at Stoke and what it’s like to be a member here?
My previous two positions at the university were important in helping me find value in a coworking space. I enjoy working around creative and like-minded individuals. At Stoke, there seems to be a sense of freedom and relaxation in the auras of those that share the space with me [during the] day. I enjoy the casual conversations, diverse personalities and backgrounds, collaborative mind-set of the members, and it is actually much quieter than first anticipated.
How would you define success? What are your measures of success?
My measure of success is how much can you help those around you succeed. At the end of the day, when you look at life in a more grandiose picture, it is about the relationships in our lives. We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for others’ love and support.
What has been your biggest business/work challenge?
Staying focused and up-to-date on your skill set and software knowledge. That is never ending!
What is your favorite tool/software to use?
My favorite tool-of-the-trade is my Wacom Cintiq tablet. I have been using them for 17 years and it’s helped jettison me into the digital art era. I have been able to replace all of my stinky oil paints and continue to create colorful landscapes and characters.
What’s your definition of an entrepreneur? How would you describe one?
An entrepreneur is a person who wears many hats. She/he does what they love and will dedicate their personal time to ensure their vision is created. Being one requires tons of self discipline, knowing how to take criticism and implement constructive feedback from their community, and the ability to keep a bigger picture in their mind. The key is to focus on your own path vs seeing what others are doing around them and reacting/changing their goals based on a flight response.
Do you have any advice or insight that you would offer to someone starting out in your field, or recent graduates from your program? What was your degree program?
Take care of yourself. Sleep, eat well, go outside, exercise, meditate and experience life. Don’t [overwork] yourself, undermine or climb over others to achieve your dream job right out of graduation. I have seen so many burn themselves out from exhaustion or resentment before they were able to shine. I graduated from SMU Guildhall’s Masters Program in 2005.
What are you looking forward to in the future for yourself/your career?
What do I look forward to? I want to be happy. Creating art makes me happy. One thing that I have always wanted to do was to create a comic book series based on my wacky imagination. I am looking forward to seeing the day that all of the fruits of my labor fund my comic series.
Favorite coffee/restaurant/bar in Denton?
Favorite place in Denton? SPIRAL: not because it is next door, but the fact that the Dallas location was the place my fiancé (now husband) took me to on our second date. I have so many food allergies that this place caters to my every cravings.
Thanks so much for sharing Jackie!
You can view Jackie’s work here: ArtStation.com/jglatz or follow her on Insta: @gamedev_chick !