news • 21 April 2023

Interview with our principal Dr Ian Palmer

We sat down with Dr Ian Palmer, Principal of Escape Studios. Read on to learn about his career journey and background in the creative industries. He also shares advice for aspiring artists and Escapees!

Tell us about your background, how did you get into the creative industries?

That’s a long story! I came through a winding route of working in the drawing office of an electronics company, then moving to be a digital electronics engineer working on radar systems. I’ve always had a strong interest in visual arts and wanted to use technology to make art. Because of that, I went on to do a doctorate in computer animation.

During my studies, I got really interested in the educational side of the creative space and working with industry to create courses and training that gave people the skills to make a difference. I ended up researching VR and intelligent interactive environments, which is a long way from designing boxes for electronics!

What is your main specialism/subject area and what do you like about it?

The technical side of 3D graphics is the core of what I do, though I’ve also dabbled in image processing and general software development. Like most things, at the heart of it is problem-solving, and it’s nice to be able to provide technical solutions to creative problems. I think I’ve always loved a bit of maths and using this to some nice visuals.

What's one thing you wish you knew before you entered the industry or applied to do a degree?

Things were very different when I started my career. I think we had one computer at school that everyone shared, I don’t suppose anyone remembers the BBC Micro?! 

I had no idea that I’d end up working in such an exciting field, and there certainly wasn’t any career advice about it when I was at school. I wish someone had recommended that I do more research before applying and explore the different pathways out there. Much like our Careers Guide now offers advice in animation, games or VFX career pathways.

There are so many more options around now it can be a bit overwhelming. But when you’re looking at potential employers, find out about the work they do and the roles involved. If you’re looking at training courses or degrees, research what past students have gone on to do and what they made whilst they were studying. I had no idea what I wanted to do when I left school, and I’ve been lucky enough to end up doing something I enjoy, but don’t leave it to chance like I did!

What's your advice for those looking to pursue a creative career?

I think the important thing to remember is that anything technology-related moves fast, and you’ll end up adapting and changing what you do many times during your career. So make sure you choose a path that you enjoy from the beginning and keep your options open. I think the best aspect of the creative industries, especially the ones that we work closely with, is that they combine cutting-edge technology with beautiful imagery, so they need such a diverse set of skills that there really is a place for everyone.

Keep looking for inspiration from different areas, obviously from the industry that you want to work in, but look beyond that to fine art, computer science and even medicine. There is so much amazing stuff out there that you can draw on, make sure you keep seeking out new things and keep on developing your own work, the creative industries never stand still!

Most importantly – listen to feedback, and don’t take it personally. Use it to improve what you do. Everyone can grow and improve in so many ways - I’ve heard some great stories from award-winning artists who are still learning every day about their craft, which is both inspirational and humbling.

What are your tips for those applying to Escape Studios, how can their application stand out?

We love to see passion and raw talent. We’re pretty good at spotting this, so don’t worry if you feel like your application is not quite ready, go for it. Here’s a TIP – Talent, Inspiration, Passion. If you’ve got those, we’re interested to hear from you. We’d also like to hear about the way you work, so think about what influences your work and be ready to talk about that.