Growing up in Shelley, Idaho, Wade Huntsman discovered he wasn’t the best test taker. When the teachers would hand back his quizzes, they would compliment the artwork he had scribbled on the sides.
“I didn’t know that I could make a living doing art,” Huntsman said.
As a young student at Ricks College, Huntsman continued to sketch on the side but had yet to pursue a career in art.
Huntsman expressed his thoughts on pursuing a hobby that one may be hesitant to pursue.
“Don’t wait,” Huntsman said. “Find out if you love it or not. You have to learn the basics, but follow your heart and do what you love. I was a business major and my heart was pulling me to a drawing class. It changed my life.”
After graduating from Ricks with an associate’s degree with a fine arts emphasis, Huntsman and his family moved to Los Angeles. He was attending the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California when a fellow classmate of his was hired by DreamWorks.
Huntsman was a freelance artist at the time, and when his friend invited him to submit his portfolio to DreamWorks he didn’t hesitate. This led to nine years as an environment designer and colorist for DreamWorks.
“Art helped me understand who I am and what I love,” Hunstman said. “It was a way to shape my imagination and express that to people.”
Huntsman provided some advice to art students who wish to have the same opportunities in the industry.
“You have to work hard every day,” Huntsman said. “That’s the reality of it.”
He advised creating a marketable skill base and taking foundational art classes in order to build a portfolio.
“I cannot stress enough the most important things … a portfolio and networking,” Huntsman said.
His career includes various films: The Prince of Egypt, Sinbad, The Road to El Dorado, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, Flushed Away and more. Huntsman continues to do freelance artwork today, and also has credits in the animated Star Wars: Clone Wars series, and designing Harry Potter products.
The following Q&A has been edited for clarity and simplicity.
Scroll: What makes a good environment for a film?
Huntsman: Mood. What colors do you use? What lighting do you use? Environment is a character in itself.
Scroll: How did you become an instructor at BYU-Idaho?
He described moving to LA as an adjustment for him.
Huntsman: I love nature, and I’m not a big city guy.
While loving his time in the entertainment industry, he was considering a change in course when BYU-Idaho called him. After working on an online accelerated Master’s in teaching, Huntsman was hired as an instructor at BYU-I.
Scroll: What was the difference between working in the industry and teaching?
Huntsman: I went from hardcore industry deadlines to a more open schedule. It’s a 180 from industry to teaching.
Scroll: What was the most rewarding part of becoming a teacher?
Huntsman: Seeing students who are really enthused by art. It’s inspiring, it really does keep me going. I would say that’s the most rewarding part. Students are hungry, aggressive and ambitious about their art. They feed off each other, and as much as people say teachers inspire students, I would say students inspire teachers.
Scroll: What advice would you give to students considering art?
Huntsman: Ask yourself, what do you do in your free time? And be honest with yourself.
He said that students should make lists of what they like to do and lists of what they’re good at. If they spend their free time and thoughts thinking about art, students should pour their energy into it.
Scroll: What was it like to have a career creating art?
Huntsman: It opened my eyes. If you can do what you love and make money doing it, you’ve got it made. Whatever you do, just make sure you love doing it.