Michael Fairchild Artwork

At 36 years old I had worked enough jobs to realize I am wired differently than most people. I realized I would rather jump out of the window of a tall building, than continue to work in a meaningless job for 20 years.

I decided to try art school at a traditional institution and unfortunately all I got was a ton of debt and not much knowledge. The best part of art school was encountering Autodesk Maya, this was something I was instantly drawn to even though I ultimately decided to drop out of art school.

I could hear my mom in the back of my mind telling me how much of a mistake it was to follow my dreams and not get a big boy job like everyone else. I felt completely defeated. I continued working at my jobs slinging pizza, selling cars, working escrow, etc. But when I got home I threw myself into building crappy 3d models or sculpting in Mudbox.

The passion was still there, even if it was barely an ember burning. My commute to work was 3 hours round trip and I would listen to the Game Art Podcast. Ryan Kingslien was pouring gasoline on the fire, slowly, but steady.

I would nod my head, listening to the podcast, and sculpting on my Surface Pro on the train ride to work every day. Every time he was finished interviewing people he would mention Vertex School, and I desperately wanted to sign up, but I was already stuck with crippling debt, and filled with more self-doubt than ever.

In the almost two years spent at the Fart Institute I hadn’t even learned to UV unwrap a model. What was Ryan going to be able to teach me online?

Flash forward a year and the pandemic was creeping up on us.I decided I wanted to learn more. This time around I did much more homework before diving into another school.

The first person I spoke with was a student enrollment representative. He didn’t just want to sign me up right away. He wanted to know who I was, and why specifically I chose Vertex School. It seems my story wasn’t unusual and he had an answer for all of my questions.

While there are other mentorships and schools out there, Vertex just really felt like the right fit. And when I say that, I mean they truly care about you as an individual, and the path you’re on.

Once class is finished, they don’t just log off and leave you on your own. There is constant communication and questions are answered. If they don’t have the answers, they point you in the right direction. This was unheard of at my previous school and is a breath of fresh air. They also provide you with a solid foundation in 3D before proceeding to more advanced topics.

While this seems like a standard practice, I assure you this was not an option at my previous school. I would literally be thrown into classes I had not done prerequisites for, just to fill my class schedule for the quarter. It was like being asked to solve a Trigonometry problem before learning Arithmetic.

I finished the Game Arts program in July and have been working on my portfolio and learning new programs. I am seriously thinking about jumping into the Character Art bootcamp because I loved the experience of being a part of the Environment Art bootcamp that much!

When you are in a community with people that love doing the same thing as you, your dreams can become a reality; and you level up so much faster. I would recommend the program to anyone that is serious about a future in games, film, XR or the metaverse. Just remember, natural talent will only take you so far. You can’t just want it, you have to work for it.

You can find Michael’s Artstation here: https://www.artstation.com/fairchild

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