Let me preface this with a little backstory. As you may know I am trying to work as a freelance illustrator. I’ve been bouncing between jobs since graduating, the most recent of which is probably my favorite (and I hope to be able to stay here for at least a little while) at Rotofugi, the designer toy store nested between Lincoln Park and Lakeview (which you should visit if you’re in Chicago, because we carry some of coolest vinyl toys, just saying). Working here has allowed me to feel connected with the art community while granting me time to work on my own projects.
A lot of the projects I have participated in with other artists, I found myself falling into leadership roles whether I wanted to or not. I have been told for a lot of my life, even more so while I was in college and afterward that I would make a great art director someday. I would force out a begrudging ‘Thank You’ and hope to myself that I can just find work as an artist and not have to deal with telling people what to do. The more work I got involved in, the more I realized I had to lean in and hone my leadership skills especially when co-curating the Comix: Pencils to Panels gallery at Columbia College Chicago. All the while, I joined forces my husband who is studying Game Programming at Columbia College Chicago to introduce our good friend Trevor to the world of games.
Adan, my husband, would take time teaching him about programming and I was introducing him to art fundamentals. I was taking this time to consider if I try to move into the games industry, if I want my role to be solely as an artist or to follow a passion that I’ve been avoiding for so long. We decided to go to GDC together. I applied for the scholarship through I Need Diverse games which I was fortunately granted, and Adan won an expo pass through Columbia. This left Trevor’s ticket to be the only one that needed to be purchase, saving us a lot of money in terms of obtaining passes.
Preparing for GDC was daunting, and I felt very much like I was over planning for something I was going into blind. It felt like how I do when I’m trying to write out an adventure for a D&D game with friends, knowing I may have to just completely throw that away, knowing things might go in a completely different direction.
Before I get into the meat of my experience I need to show my gratitude to Tanya DePasse and I Need Diverse Games (Link here: https://ineeddiversegames.net/). I Need Diverse Games provided a scholarship for professionals (in or adjacent to the game industry) of marginalised groups to have full access to this major industry conference. Without this scholarship, I may not have gotten as solid of a footing for my first step into the industry. It allowed me to attend all three Art Leadership Roundtable discussions which was super important for me to experience as someone who is deeply considering my place in this industry.
I am going to do my best not just chronicle my experience at GDC but also expand on what I got out of some of the talks and roundtables I attended. I’ll make a post for each day of the conference, and this post will chronicle the first day I arrived in San Francisco, the first actual day of the conference will be in Part 2.
Time Shift into the Financial District
We left Chicago at 8 AM Central Time and arrived in San Francisco at 10 AM Pacific Time. I got to feel how easy the transition is moving westward. We woke up early the first couple of days and adjusted immediately for the rest of the week. Coming back to Chicago on that Saturday was rough.
Aside from the time zone change, another challenge was my ankle. I rolled it a couple days before the trip so I was trying to stay off of it and ice as much as possible before we took off. I walked around with a foot wrap when we arrived in San Francisco so I could comfortably walk around.
We were fortunate enough to get a reasonably priced room at the Club Quarters Hotel in San Francisco’s financial district downtown. It about a mile’s walk to the Moscone Convention Center where GDC is held. Our first stop after dropping off our luggage in our room was to Ziggy’s for some hearty grill food. We then went to a Safeway nearby our hotel to load up on some groceries to avoid over spending on eating out (I booked a room with a kitchenette for this reason). We were also able to get our GDC passes on Sunday, so this gave us a chance to walk the route to the convention center.
Since we were so close, we didn’t have to deal with walking up or down any of San Francisco’s steep hills. We did track over 14,000 steps on my pedometer for the day though. So there was one victory! Downtown San Francisco was beautiful, upon first impression. Forecasts showed that it was supposed to be pretty cloudy and rainy the whole week, so we prepared for gloom, but were welcomed with pretty comfortable temperatures and a light breeze all week.
The end of the first day had us pretty tired from our flight and taking care of practical things. We went to bed pretty early and I was getting giddy about being the first of the three of us being able to go into GDC the next day.
Thank you so much for reading. If you want to stay up to date, make sure you subscribe to my newsletter (refresh the page to see the pop-up form). The next entry to this series will be published on Monday April 9, 2018.