Greg Harris, artist
Artist: Greg Harris
Greg Harris earned his pocket money by drawing cars and motorbikes for his schoolmates. Since those days he's drawn graphics for X-Box and other computer games, and now he loves drawing wildlife.
Greg Harris's career as an artist, illustrator and computer game designer spans 15 years - but it was at school in the 1980s that he realised he had a talent to draw incredibly detailed lifelike pictures.
Car © Greg Harris
BBC Radio Sheffield's Jamie Campbell was in the same art class as Greg at Rowlinson School (now Norton College) and he remembers his classmates' admiration and astonishment at Greg's ability to draw cars and motorbikes seemingly off the top of his head.
His drawings - mostly in pencil, ink and crayon - are so detailed that many of them look photographic.
Virtual Harley Davidson © Greg Harris
"I used to hold a pencil like a dagger when I was little," says Greg, "but once I'd mastered how to hold it properly I found I was very good at art. It was the only thing at school that I was good at. I wanted to be an artist and I have my mum and dad to thank for that, they were always very supportive. So were my friends."
Greg still draws cars and motorbikes, like this virtual Harley-Davidson-inspired creation which took him four weeks to draw, but he says wildlife art is now his passion. He has drawn so many tigers and parrots that he can almost do them with his eyes closed...
Parrots © Greg Harris
"I got a bit sick of drawing cars. A few years ago, the National Parrot Sanctuary charity (which started up in Sheffield but is now based in Lincolnshire) contacted me after seeing my business card which had two parrots on.
"I visited the Sanctuary - there were parrots flying everywhere, dive-bombing me. I loved drawing them because of the colours. I got so used to drawing them that I could do them from memory."
And indeed after years of practice and dedication, Greg can recall on paper every single feather and the beady look in their eye. Standing in Sheffield's Winter Garden demonstrating his work one winter's day, the parrot drawings on display are so realistic that you can almost imagine them flying off their virtual perch and swooping around the glassy heights of the Winter Garden.
Greg began working for computer games companies in 2001. His first job was with a small Sheffield company, Fluid Studios, which were based at the bottom of The Moor. Despite not having any computer experience, they took him on as a trainee based on the portfolio of his drawings.
"In the computer games industry there are different roles for different artists: concept artists design the characters; texture artists create the colours, backgrounds, scenes and so on; and the 3D modellers build the objects. There are also animators - it's a varied selection of artists.
Tiger © Greg Harris
"Working for a small Sheffield company I had to be a Jack Of All Trades - I did a bit of everything. But my main skills were in texture art and drawing the scenes for the games.
"One of the games I enjoyed working on most was Tokyo Extreme Racer for the Game Boy Advance.
"With some games you don't get much artistic license because you're given graphics to work with, but with this one I did 90% of the graphics so I got to put some creative skill into the game - and it got a great review. Yeah, I do occasionally play it at home, for nostalgia!"
Other games Greg has worked on include ET, Sky Dancers, Top Gun, Worms Blast, BattleShips, Mousetrap, Deal Or No Deal, Risk, and Match Box Kids Air & Sea Rescue - for platforms like the Nintendo DS and Wii.
Greg admits he's got an artist's temperament and says that importantly his mum is his biggest critic.
Greg Harris draws a lion
"I've nearly destroyed some of the best things I've done because they're not going right - but it's a battle, you've got to carry on with it.
"Artists are quite sensitive people. You get knockback after knockback, so you have to develop a cast iron jaw. But actually doing the artwork is very therapeutic. If people buy your work it gives you a massive confidence boost and spurs you on."
last updated: 16/12/2008 at 15:35