My name is Olivia Haines and I’m a 3D artist, illustrator and game developer from Melbourne, Australia. I studied a Bachelor of Design (Games) at RMIT University, and I’ve contributed my 3D modeling and drawing skills to a handful of independent video games, including Wayward Strand, Intergalactic Space Princess, and Knuckle Sandwich. I also enjoy using my art knowledge to code my own small games, which I share on itch.io.
Although I’ve always loved art, I think my journey really began when my dad bought me a Wacom tablet for Christmas in 2007. I was only 11 and it took me a long time to understand how any digital art software worked, but by age 13 I was using Photoshop every day, constantly striving to improve and engaging in online communities like DeviantArt. I moved to Melbourne in 2014 for university and while it had its ups and downs, it set me on the path of understanding 3D and learning how to push my work both technically and artistically.
Artistic journey and process
Because I have a history of art practicing, I tend to approach 3D the same way I would take on an illustration: sketching thumbnails to work out composition, designing a colour palette and thinking about lighting (even with the benefit of computers taking some of the work away). I feel like I’m at a point where my 3D art has surpassed my traditional artwork, but it took me a long time to get here or even figure out what I wanted from 3D. I was learning Maya at university for quite a while before I really started to take advantage of it. I’m not the fastest learner and struggled to deeply understand 3D modeling on top of everything else in the course curriculum, but once I started engaging more with 3D and games communities, I slowly grew more aware of the possibilities and potential my art could reach if I stuck with it. My newfound excitement with 3D then made the learning process come much faster and more naturally, and my art overall has improved so much as a result of challenging myself. My goal with my 3D work is to make it feel like a painting or an installation artwork- not just a technically impressive model.
Theming and subject matter have become increasingly prioritized factors in my artistic process. This is especially true when I’m making video games, as they provide the room to deeply explore an idea, but I also want to work towards making my Sketchfab profile feel like a personal art gallery. I want to bring my individual background, style, and emotions into my work and contribute to broadening the spectrum of designs we’re familiar with in games. I think my “Lollies” model is an example – I wanted it to be very Australian, which I think is an aesthetic growing in popularity, but I wanted it to specifically resonate with those of us who grew up here and appreciate the little mundane details that hold sentimental value. Looking at it gives me fun memories of hot days as a child getting one of those rainbow killer python lollies after swimming lessons, and picking out snacks with my brothers with our hard-earned pocket money after tennis.
Nostalgia is a big source of inspiration to me; not necessarily video games and media I grew up with, but memories of feelings, locations, and experiences really swell up a lot of emotions in me that I want to reflect on in a creative way. I have to be careful about how I use this though. I’ve struggled with depression throughout my teens and early adult life and part of that takes the form of dwelling a bit too much on the past. This can really stop me from pushing my work forward sometimes, as well as slowing me down and taking away some of my ambition. While I absolutely don’t believe depression “improves” your art, I’m learning how to carefully be more proactive about it and use my games and art as pieces that help me process things and find inner peace. I’ve always been a very introspective person and so figuring out how to put my feelings into my work has been an important process for me, and it’s helped me move on from past memories while also acknowledging the positive parts. This is an ongoing challenge – I don’t know yet if there’s a destination but I’m enjoying the journey.
Another struggle has been building the confidence to truly make what I want, and share myself through my work. I’ve learned to let go of insecurities about work experience and software skills and focus on how I can make art that is personally fulfilling. In this industry, it’s so easy to feel like technical skills and industry experience are much more important than the heart and soul of your work. Of course, having a strong set of skills and experience is very important, but that shouldn’t be a roadblock if you want to use the software in an artistic or expressive way. I know in the future, when I look back on my work I won’t care that it wasn’t AAA quality or wasn’t as professional as someone else’s – I’ll care that I used the tools given to me as a creative outlet that improved my quality of life and maybe had an emotional impact on others. I don’t have to be the best; I just want to make art that is special to me.
When I first heard of Sketchfab I thought it was a fantastic place to share 3D portfolios, but I wasn’t aware that it also has such an enthusiastic, supportive and strong community. Social media presence is essential as contemporary artists, but it can be easy to slip into judgment and comparison when exposed to others’ lives so frequently, so finding an online space where everyone makes an effort to lift others up and give kindness is so remarkable. The friendships I’ve found here and the feelings of encouragement bring back warm memories of my DeviantArt days.
I’d like to thank Abby, Mieke, and Jasmin for inviting me to participate in this wonderful Women On Sketchfab series. I’d also like to thank the women in games in my life who have given me mentorship, opportunities, and support throughout my journey, including Jennifer Lade, Marigold Bartlett, Kalonica Quigley, and Lisy Kane. And lastly, I want to thank my partner Andy for the endless encouragement and for helping me find so much confidence within myself.