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#MeetIronGalaxy – Matt Young, Lead Environment Artist

11/23/2021   •   Written By Keenan Morales

At Iron Galaxy, our artists give life to the worlds we help create. We’re putting them to the question to share some details about our unique individuals and their personal experiences in making our games.

Today, we’re talking to Matt Young, one of our Orlando teammates who works in Art. Matt started with us in September 2017 and has been working on development for multiple projects ever since. Let’s learn about how Matt found his way into making games.

Iron Galaxy: Hey Matt. Who are you and what would you say you do here at Iron Galaxy?

Matt Young: My name is Matt Young and I'm an Environment Artist at Iron Galaxy. I've recently stepped into the Lead Environment Artist role on a project, so I spend my time creating art, reviewing work, and helping solve problems for my team so that they can work comfortably and efficiently.

IG: Congratulations on the new lead role! What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

MY: The hardest part of my job right now is mostly a mindset change: accepting that it’s not my job to know every detail to the work that I’m tasking out but knowing that my team has the knowledge and skills to do the work. I'm an information-oriented person, so I feel the need to know the ins-and-outs of a task before assigning it to someone else. I work with really skilled artists, and they make it easier to let go and trust in their abilities.

IG: What is the one skill you learned growing up that you use the most in your role?

MY: Intentionally staying in communication with coworkers. Especially in a work from home scenario, making a point to reach out to people who you miss seeing or talking to in the office is important both for maintaining friendships but also for learning new things. Just because I’m not on the same project as someone doesn’t mean I can’t still hear about and learn from their experiences with their own work.

IG: What has been your proudest moment as a member of the Iron Galaxy team?

MY: My proudest moments are every time we wrap a project and I hear that our partner was thrilled with our work and wishes they could keep us on the project for longer. In the same spirit, my proudest moments are yet to come. I have several projects yet to be announced and I'm hyped to see them release to the public.

IG: There is so much to be excited for in secret. We can’t wait for the world to see your efforts. If you could give someone who wanted to follow in your career footsteps one piece of advice, what would it be?

MY: The advice I'd give is do it for the love of the craft, not the love of video games. A lot of us are game developers because we love video games (obviously) but that won't sustain you through your career in games. I love making 3d art, regardless of the game or the style, and that’s what keeps me going. Game dev isn’t always glamorous and frequently the work required to bring a cool environment to life is technical, tedious, and full of bugs. If you don’t enjoy the process, you’ll burn out before you get to the destination.

IG: That’s sound advice with clear passion. What is the best thing about working at a gaming company?

MY: Seeing all the cool work other people made. I love internal reviews and company meetings where people get to show off what they’ve been working on. Everyone is contributing to make something awesome in the end. Getting to see those contributions in action and in conjunction with other people’s work inspires my own creativity. I don’t think I could motivate myself to work every day if the best thing I saw from my coworkers is that we balanced the budget or reduced manufacturing costs by a fraction of a percent.

IG: What is your favorite perk associated with your job?

MY: I love that Iron Galaxy works with so many different partners in the industry. In my relatively short time in the industry, I’ve gotten to work on quite a variety of projects and be a part of some incredible titles that I otherwise would have had to jump around the industry to experience. I also get to see the development on plenty of other awesome games that other people in the studio are working on. I really feel like I get a good glimpse of what’s going on in the industry while at IG.

IG: From Environment Art Intern to Environment Artist, how did IG’s internship program prep you for that next professional step in your career?

MY: My experience as an intern was the same as a full-fledged Environment Artist, just with a little extra hand holding. Interns at IG aren’t given small intern projects, but instead get to work with the rest of the team in conjunction with a more tenured artist. I immediately began learning some advanced techniques and skill that I never would have learned on my own. There’s also a lot of growth to be had on a game in full production as opposed to being on a student game or individual project.

IG: What did you study at FIEA and what lead you to pursue Environment Art?

MY: I joined FIEA knowing I wanted to be an environment artist. FIEA provided an environment for me to work closely with other artists of similar skill levels and compete for who could push their art the farthest while still learning from each other and helping each other. FIEA also provided great team experience for me to try my hand at being an Art Lead with helpful direction from the staff, which after a couple years at IG helped me start leading in a professional environment.

IG: Healthy competition often brings out the best results. With competition in mind, you were recently recognized for the best overall Lego Galaxy creation. Can you tell us about your construction and that experience?

MY: I knew I had to stand out in some way in order to win. What better way than to take Dave Lang, the most meme worthy part of IG, and recreate his LinkedIn bathtub profile picture? There were a lot of creative entries but pandering to something people already recognize and think is funny gives a step up, especially when there’s still a good amount of effort put into it. Recreating Dave was quite challenging with all the non-90-degree angles as well as trying to keep the colors somewhat consistent.

IG: The parallels are immaculate. Let's get a little more personal. What is your hometown?

MY: I was born and raised just outside of Orlando. Growing up I wanted to go to UCF. It was only after I started my undergraduate degree that I found out UCF has an incredible graduate game dev program. I’m thankful for the opportunity to still be in Orlando because it’s a great city.

IG: What is your favorite pro-tip for working from home?

MY: Get away from your computer if you can. Even if it’s standing outside for a couple minutes or eating lunch in the kitchen with no screens, I find it helpful to get out of my office chair and take a break elsewhere.

IG: Aside from playing video games, what is a favorite hobby of yours?

MY: My main two hobbies are boxing and collecting whiskey. My wife and I have been boxing for a bit over a year now and it’s been a blast. We only do bag work, no sparring, but we’ve both gotten in much better shape and have met a lot of great people. Additionally, I’ve been collecting whiskey for 3-4 years. I’ve always been someone who collects things, and this just so happens to be my current focus. Between the varieties in style and brands, the rarity of some, its ability to share and bring people together, and the fact that it’s an artform itself, all attract me to collecting whiskey.

IG: An athletic hobby followed by another hobby to help shake off the edge. You and your wife both sound ready for anything. If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would you choose?

MY: Sub sandwiches. Not my all-time favorite food, but there’s a fair amount of variety available and it’s not the unhealthiest thing I could choose. My favorite food is corned beef, and I could still have that as a Rueben sub. Publix always makes a great Thanksgiving sub so I wouldn’t have to miss the holidays either.

IG: Sandwich diversity is truly unmatched. What is your favorite travel destination that you have visited?

MY: Rome. It’s an incredible city with so much history and so much to see. Living in the United States, nothing we have here compares to the history of what you can find on nearly every street corner in Rome. There were fallen pillars outside the Colosseum older than anything in the United States and people were just sitting on them like benches. The age and scale of everything there made me feel small and put a lot of things in perspective. We spent several days there, and I’d absolutely go back to see more.

IG: What was the last concert you saw?

MY: It’s been a couple years since I’ve been to a concert, but if I remember correctly, I last went to see Elton John. I’m not a big concert goer, but ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved Elton John and my wife surprised me one year by getting us tickets to see him. It was a terrific show.

IG: What game have you spent the most time playing that you hold close?

MY: World of Warcraft. I got into it as a kid and spent several years playing. I have so many fond memories of my time playing WoW with my cousin and the friends we met online. For the next decade I was burned out of MMOs, but just recently tried New World to get my MMO fix again. I know it won’t come close to my rose-colored memories of WoW though.

IG: Name a scene from a movie that makes you cry every time…

MY: I cried like a baby to my girlfriend (now wife) after seeing The Fault in Our Stars. We’ll leave it at that.

IG: What has been your favorite series binge?

MY: Might be obscure for U.S. audiences, but I love the show Corner Gas. My dad and I watched it all the time when I was in high school. I’ll sometimes go back and binge a season or two to dust off all the quotes in the back of my mind. I recently found out Corner Gas came back as an animated series, and I really need to binge it to see how it compares.

IG: What was your favorite movie that bombed?

MY: Not bombed, but people love to hate on the Star Wars Prequels and the new trilogy, and I love them. I remember seeing the Prequels with my dad and getting the toys at Taco bell when I was a kid, so they hold a special place in my heart. My bar for media isn’t very high and so long as I’m entertained, I’m satisfied. I just love being in the Star Wars universe and seeing the visual design, even if the plot has more holes than the floors of the Millennium Falcon.

IG: What is the one superpower that you would like to have?

MY: Telekinesis. Any time I get up my dog also wakes up and gets into trouble. Sometimes I need something just out of my reach but it’s just not worth waking her up so I sit there without it. I’m sure I’d find other uses for telekinesis but for now my needs are simple.

IG: Spoken like a true Jedi. Now if you had one wish, what would you wish for?

MY: Let’s not gloss over telekinesis. If I had one wish, I’d wish that I had telekinetic powers. My dog is sleeping right now, and I know if I refill my water cup she’ll wake up.

IG: We’ll start researching some telekinesis classes for you. This interest cannot be left ignored. Which historical figure would you want to show the modern world? What do you think they’d say?

MY: I don’t really care which figure but probably some medieval king. First, I want to feed them a variety of foods to see how they react. From Mountain Dew to cake to a nice steak. Then I want to take them on a drive, show them a cell phone, put them on a plane, etc. Meanwhile I’d be noting how they rationalize everything with their understanding of the world. I also don’t expect them to be amazed by the things we’d think would baffle them, but rather hung up on random things that fascinate them. I’d expect the speed of a car to be incredible to them, but they may be more amazed by the perfectly clear glass or something random that we take for granted.

Insightful thoughts Matt. Thanks for letting us interview you and allowing us to learn more about you, your family, and your history at Iron Galaxy. We appreciate your efforts and are glad to have you as a valuable teammate to so many projects.

See yourself fitting in with our Art team? We're currently hiring - check out our job listings and see if there's an opening for you.