Jamie Hein is no stranger to adventure. Growing up in an era of video games that brought the Nintendo 64 gaming console to kids, Jamie has adored games her entire life and the journeys that each one take her on. When Jamie wanted to study performing arts locally, fate had other plans, leading her to embark on the greatest adventure she has experienced thus far. Leaving her childhood home in Somers, Connecticut and studying digital media in Portland, Maine has created an adventure in her life reminiscent of Link’s journey through Hyrule in her favorite series, the Legend of Zelda. As much fun as she has had playing games, she never imagined that she would become a video game artist herself.
“I stumbled into it. I was always a very artsy kid and had paint kits and took art classes.” Jamie initially wanted to go to college for performing arts, but pursuing the major did not work out after applying to schools. While performing arts didn’t seem to be in the stars, Jamie no doubt had a vibrant creative side that she was excited to utilize no matter what. She enrolled in classes aimed toward digital media. She decided to try them and loved it from the first minute she started. “It was very refreshing and fun. I thought it was the coolest thing. I had experience in loving video games, but it was so cool to put it together for myself. I stumbled into it like Alice into the rabbit hole. I fell into this by accident.”
Jamie has followed the path to a career in video game design and has never looked back. In May, Jamie graduated from Maine College of Art with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Digital Media. Though she just recently graduated, the work Jamie conducted in during her time as a student has lead to incredible work.
During her time at Maine College of Art, Jamie worked as an Intern Artist and 3D Modeler for Chickadee Games. She modeled and created 2D assets as a part of game projects such as “Beartopia” and “Steambirds Alliance” for Spry Fox Games and “Tooth and Tail” for Pocketwatch Games. “Steambirds Alliance” is currently in production and “Beartopia” is available for Google’s Daydream Virtual Reality platform, but is still being developed for computers. “Tooth and Tail” was released in September 2017. Jamie also contributed concept and icon art for Chickadee Games during her internship.
Jamie is thankful that she had the opportunity to learn alongside Adam deGrandis, owner of Chickadee Games and Maine College of Art professor and alumni. Jamie shared, “He took me on as a junior. He’s great; I still bother him as a mentor from time to time.”
Jamie also worked on a project called the Spillage Campaign alongside five Maine College of Art Digital Media major students as a Character Designer, Background Artist, and in marketing. The project was a part of a class assignment that took off and represented the talents of herself and her classmates. The non-profit project focused on fighting the construction of oil pipes in the ocean and cleaning oil. The team involved 350 Maine, a movement local to Maine College of Arts dedicated to climate crisis. As Jamie described, “We created this whole old-style war movie animation trailer to push their organization and push their project. We were able to team up with 350 Maine. It was a big step for us and I am proud of my colleagues.”
The Spillage Campaign included a narrative based hook animation teaser, informational pamphlet, website, and movie posters. Jamie designed a main character, illustrated animation backgrounds, edited the voiceover and was the lead on marketing for the project against oil pipelines and oil spills. The extensive efforts of she and her classmates cumulated into a professional final product that brought attention to the environment. She received the Golden Gary Award for Best in Animation and Experimental Film at the 2017 MECA Film Festival for her work on the campaign.
Jamie’s personal favorite project that she has worked on is her senior thesis, entitled “You Are Offline.” After going away to college, Jamie felt disconnected from her childhood home. Traveling between Somers and Portland made it difficult to stay connected to the home she was raised in. In response, she created a playable game complete with scenes of her actual childhood home. She explained, “I recreated my childhood home in a foggy lens and to represent dissociation. Jumping between school and my childhood home inspired it. I lost a lot of my memories.” After completing “You Are Offline,” Jamie invited her classmates to play the final product. The personal background coupled with the media aspects of the game made it a special project for Jamie. A video walkthrough of the project can be viewed on her website.
While Jamie is passionate about her work in digital media, she also creates other forms of artwork including painting and illustration. As she explained, “Professionally, I am a game artist but I also do a lot of illustration. I do painting as self-gratification because I wasn’t good at it in high school until I took painting classes.” She recently completed a portrait of actor and singer Ezra Miller after almost two years without painting.
While Jamie’s resume is already packed with extensive and impressive projects, her career is just getting started. Jamie hopes to become a part of a studio in the future where she can contribute digital media work and continue to create video games. “I would like to jump right in to working with games. I’ve had offers for commissions but I would love to be in a studio. I would love to join diverse people who have a passion for making games.”
The amount of work Jamie has dedicated to video games is inspiring. With a career revolving around such a fun topic, there’s no doubt that young artists will be inspired by her. Jamie shared advice she has for young artists hoping to follow similar dreams. “For the young artists who are reading and wondering about their own artistic abilities, I wasn’t a great artist. But creating helped push me to my own passions. Anyone wanting to create should keep that in mind.”
Jamie’s story of hard work and dedication goes to show that your dreams can always be followed, no matter what your original plan may have been. Much like a video game, life can take a unique turn at any moment. But it’s evident that Jamie is passing every level with a high score.
To view more of Jamie Hein’s artwork, please visit her website at www.jamiehein.com.
Her illustrated work can BE purchased at www.inprnt.com/gallery/jamie930
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