We caught up with this year’s d3t Rising Star Character Art winner, Gia Han Lam from Howest DAE, to find out what it’s been like to win the challenge and what she’s learned from the process.
On winning d3t Rising Star
“It was quite surprising! I was watching the livestream together with a few friends who also participated and I didn’t expect it! It was very fun to see.
I couldn’t really believe it because I was really happy just to get into the final — I didn’t expect to actually win the competition! I was just stunned for a few minutes sitting there with all my friends congratulating me!
Taking part with friends for support and motivation
“When the applications for the Search For A Star challenges started we [Han, along with other Howest DAE students Gia Bao Lam – finalist in Environment Art, & Yano Claeys – finalist in Character Art] decided to apply as a group so we could motivate each other and hold each other accountable. Basically, so we could realistically finish our projects and hand something in!
I think if I’d just joined on my own, with all the school exams and things I had going on, I probably would not have been able to finish it to this extent. It was really helpful to be able to work together with other people and motivate each other to finish our projects.”
Getting noticed and gaining confidence
“I’ve had a few internship discussions and some opportunities through Artstation because people saw my work, so joining Search For A Star and having this very nice portfolio project has helped to get more recognition.
Winning a challenge like this in a way felt like a job application for a junior job or something, because you also have all the other applicants.
I definitely feel I have an advantage to have experienced that, and to have already been able to talk to people about [games careers]. I feel more at ease now when talking about internships or doing other interviews”
What have you learned from taking part?
“Planning! Usually when I work on a personal project there’s not really a deadline so I do everything on my own pace, but with Search For A Star we had a strict period of a month to finish a complete project. It really helped me to plan out my work, look over the whole project more and see how I could finish the pipeline more efficiently.
It definitely helps with creating a finished result within a short period of time, really forcing myself to do the best with this small amount of time considering all the other projects I also had going.”
Advice for students thinking of taking part in Search For A Star or d3t Rising Star
“Definitely enter it because you have nothing to lose!
Maybe also participate with [the support of] a few friends if you can, because it’s always more fun if you do it together. If you do it on your own, it’s very easy to give up if you don’t have the motivation. If you get with some friends, you get to push each other, you get to aim for a higher level together.
Focus a bit on planning in the beginning and try not to stress over it too much. I think in the end, the reason why I completed the project was because it was really fun to do!”
What’s Next for Han?
“I feel like I’m in a better position because of the opportunity for finalists to interview with industry people — it was very reassuring to have had that experience, and they explain what to expect when we apply for a first job.
I didn’t expect to win, but now I actually feel like I have a chance to get into the industry. It’s very encouraging to do my best and to keep doing my best!”
Huge thanks to Han for speaking with us, and congratulations again on winning this year’s d3t Rising Star in Character Art!
Search For A Star & d3t Rising Star are our annual gamedev challenges to help students create portfolio work to a professional brief, get industry feedback, and get noticed by games studios. You can learn more about the challenges here.
If you represent a games studio or university & would like to learn more about any of our activities, please contact Andy Driver at firstname.lastname@example.org