Studio Spotlight 2020: Airship Images
Having been previously involved in the assessment and judging of our Search For A Star gamedev challenges, it’s a pleasure to welcome Airship Images as a studio partner for the 2020/21 academic year!
Airship Images is a world leading video game art production partner based in Lancashire. We started out in the form of one passionate individual in love with the creative art process and have grown into a company united by the desire to innovate, to take risks, and to shape and short-cut how artwork in games is created, whilst equally respecting and nurturing the talent behind it. The effort to become this company has taken many years or chapters, from each has come a set of learnings we have embraced – no matter how small – and built upon.
Founded by Joseph Harford in 2010 out of a drive to have a wider impact on artwork across the industry, and to offer those opportunities to more artists. After cementing a reputation for unrelenting quality and great communication, this led to a growth in headcount and a push towards scaling up in other art disciplines.
In 2015 Airship was approached to co-develop an NFL action title for mobile. Then the largest single job for the team, the ambitious art needs of the project came with a demand to scale up the headcount to 25 staff at peak. We responded positively to this call to action, reaching out to a network of former colleagues and new talent. The project was unfortunately cancelled which resulted in the need to reduce headcount. However, vital lessons were learned through the rapid scaling up, process management, and communication which would go on to shape the foundations of a future, sustainable Airship, one more flexible and equipped to handle greater challenges.
In 2016 Airship teamed up with Ubisoft Massive to create a slate of bespoke hairstyles and facial hair for their pioneering MMO, The Division. These hairstyles have become a beacon of the company portfolio, as well as becoming an industry benchmark for best-in-class hair assets. This perception was shared by a number of prospects who started flocking to Airship with similar briefs. This proved to be a catalyst in the company growth and generated a Katamari-Damacy like momentum behind our reputation within the global industry.
Between 2016-19 Airship went through a purple patch. The reputation for delivering outstanding real-time hair was established. Work orders from leading developers were constant. With an expansion in headcount – from 6 to 16 full time staff – and hair work flowing in, Airship looked to expand its’ work in full character production. In order to meet demand, the spotlight had to be on scouting the best talent from around the world, whilst establishing an internal training programme. Critical to the training programme being the knowledge to handle our tools and the innovative techniques which attracted industry demand in the first place.
2020 to the present day, Airship has continued to carefully manage its expansion (credit must be shared with the external efforts by recruitment agencies such as Grads In Games / Aardvark Swift). We recently passed a proud milestone of 30 full time, highly valued members of staff. Yet we are not slowing down any time soon. In fact, demand in our expertise is now higher than it’s ever been. And it is, after all down to the aptitude, expertise and shared belief in striving for “quality in all ways, always” (the company mantra) among our staff that got us here. We are the sum of our people – we empathise and support each other like a rock when times are tough and celebrate success and personal achievement when times are good.
We are servicing the needs of an industry which is continually evolving, meaning we need to continually attract highly skilled talent able to adapt to all aspects of the art creation process: from passionate groom artists, specialists in clothing creation, through to programmers ensuring performance and developing groundbreaking tools.
In order to attract the best talent, we have invested in the most desirable facilities to work in – from access to cutting edge software through to an on-site café and gym. We make sure the environment is inclusive, commit to the personal and professional development of all our staff, and cultivate our culture through active social activities.
Airship are proud of our history, but equally we embrace the challenges of our future – one that needs the brightest, self-motivated, and passionate talent in order for us to soar above the competitive (in the Airship we personify).
If you would like to find out more about Airship Images, check out their website here: airship-images.com