News / Ottawa

Pens & Pixels collective connecting artists with studios in Ottawa

No need to be a starving artist.

Getting a full-time job as an artist is not as tough as all that. That’s what local artist Mike Kent is trying to show with his Pens & Pixels collective.

Mike Kent - supplied

Getting a full-time job as an artist is not as tough as all that. That’s what local artist Mike Kent is trying to show with his Pens & Pixels collective.

While parents may still worry about their kids who decide on a career in the arts, an Ottawa-based art collective is working to put a dent in that stereotype.

Pens & Pixels has been connecting artists with TV, film and gaming studios for about two years now. The brain-child of artist Mike Kent, he began the concept art and illustration collective to try and create a community that already existed in places like Toronto and Montréal, but not in Ottawa – one that gets artists full-time jobs.

In trying to get his own career in gaming concept art going, Kent found that connecting with working, professional artists who didn’t just sell their work but had steady jobs in art was “almost impossible.”

At the same time, he knew the studios were there, as well as young artists like himself looking for jobs.

That’s how Pens & Pixels got started, he said, and it’s been appreciated from the start.

“The first event that I had … it sold out at max capacity in a week,” said Kent. “I was like, ‘Wow, OK, so there is a demand here.’ Every event I’ve had since then has sold out.”

Events range from talks with professional artists who work for companies like Marvel, to art exhibitions, art jams and more. They usually attract from 80 to 200 people, said Kent.

What’s more, the collective is succeeding in getting local artists local, full-time jobs in the arts, he said.

“There is a stigma on the arts, right. A lot of parents get afraid of their kids getting into a creative career and finding out if they can actually make a job of it,” said Kent.

“But in today’s world, entertainment is such a massive industry and there is so much demand for fresh ideas and for creative content, that becoming a concept artist or a visual development artist for TV, films or video games is a lucrative career.”

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