Meet the Judges for Mission to Minerva!

Meet the Judges for Mission to Minerva!

The Mission to Minerva Challenge has launched in full force with artists creating with our free Kit to build incredible worlds, contributing to the makings of the galaxy. We have an amazing line up of talented art directors and recruiters from Industrial Light & Magic, Netflix, NASA, Riot Games and CD Projekt Red as part of the challenge’s all-star panel of judges. To know more about our judges, hear what they are most passionate about and what they’re looking for in the challenge, read below!

Paullina Weeks • Netflix | Mission to Minerva Judges

Paullina Weeks
Talent Acquisition, Netflix

Hi! I’m Paullina Weeks - I go by Paulli for short. I’m a Recruiter at Netflix, covering Production and CG roles for Netflix Animation Feature Films. I’ve spent the last thirteen years working in the Animation and VFX industry.

I started my career at Gnomon - a VFX, Games, and Animation School. I wore many hats there and realized through my time at Gnomon that I love helping people figure out what they want to do and how to get from one place to the next, which is how I ended up in Recruiting! After my time at Gnomon, I worked at a creative production company called Scholar and then moved to Netflix. When I first started at Netflix, I covered animated series, features, and adult animation roles and then moved to just covering animated films. I’m passionate about helping connect the needs of a team with the right artist or person for the role.

What are you most excited to see from the community in the Mission to Minerva challenge?

I'm excited to see everyone's interpretation of the Mission to Minerva, but my recruiter brain is very excited to see some new, up-and-coming talent!!

What advice would you give artists wanting to break in the industry?

Keep pushing and network!! It can sometimes take a while for things to work out but just keep your chin up, continue to work on your skills with practice and professional development, get professional feedback on your work, network a ton, and eventually, things will start to work out!

Devon Fay • Riot Games | Mission to Minerva Judges

Devon Fay
Art Director, Riot Games

Devon Fay is a game developer with more than 10 years of experience working in video games and cinematics.  His experience across multiple genres and industries has given him broad knowledge of workflows and techniques to pull from when creating environments for his work and personal art. Devon has worked on popular franchises such as Call of Duty, Diablo, StarCraft, and World of WarCraft. He is currently working at Riot Games where he helped develop the art style for VALORANT. After shipping VALORANT he joined Riot’s research and development department team as an Art Director. 

When looking at an artist portfolio what are the key things that make them stand out above the rest? 

There are many things that can make up a standout portfolio. It really does come down to a few basics however. Quality of work, quantity of work and creativity. I have been blown away by a portfolio with only a few pieces, but they were so well executed or so creative that they really stood out. There is one classic trap that most of us know already, but it's worth pointing out: more is not always better. I find portfolios with fewer pieces, but they spend a ton of time on quality and creativity to almost always be more interesting than portfolios with a TON of similar or unpolished work.

What advice would you give artists wanting to break in the industry?

I think this is a great time to try and get into the industry. Lots of places are hiring and looking for talent. The 2 most important things I think are: Keep practicing and continue to be critical of your own work. Those might sound pretty basic, but it's important to keep leveling up your skills. There will always be work for good artists! Being critical of your own work is one of the best ways to get better. In my experience, if an artist works hard, and has the ability to self critique their work, to really know when something isn't good enough or how it could be better, they always get better and end up doing really well in a working environment. 

What do you love most about your job?

I really love that I get to work on hard and interesting artistic problems almost every day, but it's even more rewarding to get to do that with all the amazing and talented people I work with. The times I get to solve artistic problems collaboratively will always be my favorite parts of development.

Shannon Wiggins • Industrial Light and Magic | Mission to Minerva Judges

Shannon Wiggins
Talent Recruiter, Industrial Light & Magic

Shannon has over 25 years in the entertainment industry working in Film, Commercials, Games, Virtual Reality, and Animation. She started her career as a visual effects artist working in production, with her work spanning over three dozen projects ranging from Shrek to Transformers and the Matrix sequels. Following her time as an artist, she transitioned into visual effects recruitment and is currently part of the ILM Talent AcquisitionTeam as a Global Diversity Candidate Developer - helping to build new avenues into the industry for all.

What do you love most about your job?

I love being able to expand the possibilities for so many artists and technologists from all backgrounds and abilities - it's so fun to see people's eyes light up when they realize how many opportunities are really out there and that each person has their own path. I'm especially thankful to be able to bring more diverse voices to the industry as well.

When looking at an artist portfolio what are the key things that make them stand out above the rest?

Attention to detail! Take your shots to 100% - and focus on doing your part of the pipeline really well. Know what types of projects your target companies are working on and focus your portfolio towards that (photoreal work for some vs animated work at others).  

Pawel Mielniczuk • CD Projekt Red | Mission to Minerva Judges

Paweł Mielniczuk
Art Director, CD Projekt Red

Paweł Mielniczuk is a Character Artist and sculptor with a background in programming. Earning a bachelor's degree in Mobile Networks Programming, Paweł pursued his passion joining the CD PROJEKT RED art department in 2006. He became Lead Character Artist in 2010, and has worked on The Witcher, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. He also worked on the Hearts of Stone & Blood and Wine expansions for The Witcher 3, as well as on GWENT: The Witcher Card Game. Since 2015, Paweł has directed the Characters, Weapons, and Vehicle Art departments to create and develop visual design to populate the world of Cyberpunk 2077 — helping to define the visual style of the dark future and bring it to life in the most immersive manner possible. Currently working as Art Director for Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty. Paweł is also the Festival Director of Promised Land Art festival — an event organized by CD PROJEKT RED in cooperation with the city of Łódź, bringing together professionals working in film, gaming, and other creative industries.

What are you most excited to see from the community in the Mission to Minerva challenge?

I am excited to see unexpected designs, things that I wouldn't have thought!

When looking at an artist portfolio what are the key things that make them stand out above the rest?

For me the most important aspects are ideas and creativity. Execution can be always improved but a well thought, logical and yet surprising design is what I am looking for.

What’s your favorite space exploration movie, game or TV Show?

Sci Fi is my favorite genre and my all time favorite movies are all from this genre. I think the Alien movie from 1979 would be my top pick but I love Stanley Kubrick's '2001: Space odyssey' just as much, I’ve seen each of them at least 20 times... For my favorite game - that would be equally Alien Isolation and Dead Space 1.

Michael Lentz • NASA | Mission to Minerva Judges

Michael Lentz
Art Director, NASA

Michael Lentz is the Art Director for the Conceptual Image Lab at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and lead for NASA Creatives, an Agency wide group of content creators. NASA Creatives was started to help foster sharing and collaboration across NASA. As Art Director he provides guidance for the creation of art and animation with a focus on artistic quality and scientific accuracy. Michael works agency-wide with scientists and producers to help bring their stories to life through art and animation with a diverse team of creatives.

If you could give one skill to every up and coming artist around the world what would it be?

Learn to let your work speak for you.

What’s your favorite space exploration movie, game or TV Show?

There are way too many to pick just one but let’s start with Battlestar Galactica (2004) and The Expanse.

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