Matt Ratcliffe: How to make it in the creative industries – insider tips
We recently caught up with leading creative Matt Ratcliffe to uncover his top tips on how to make it in the creative industries. This is what he had to say;
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do?
I’m co-founder of creative studio Masters of Pie, a London-based team of artists and developers who use cutting edge technology to create meaningful experiences for audiences. I’ve got various roles within the company depending on the type of project; from strategising, pitching and managing clients, to programming and creating 3D content, managing teams and delivering projects. It’s a real mix which is what I love.
What inspired you to get into the creative industries in the first place?
I’d say it was all the cartoons and films I used to watch as a kid in the 80’s and early 90’s, most notably the original Transformers and the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film (not the new one!). I drew the characters and the worlds obsessively which I think was my way of trying to explore these places as a child. I love world building and it drives a lot of what I do creatively today.
How did you go about getting into the industry?
I studied Illustration at Arts University Bournemouth and began my course as a traditional canvas painter. It was my first exposure to 3ds Max, Photoshop, Illustrator and After Effects which really changed the way I produced my creative content. And it’s this that led to me wanting to get into the games industry. Unfortunately when I left university I failed to get any jobs for the first two years. I decided to switch from games to architectural visualisation and got a job within a week! I just kept going until I succeeded.
What are the three qualities or skills that you think are essential for all budding creatives in order to get their foot in the door?
The key thing for all budding creatives is to have an understanding of the quality of your work in relation to the industry you want to enter. How does it compare?
- Nurture your creative “voice”. We all have something unique to give.
- Be thick skinned. It’s a little bit survival of the fittest in the creative industries.
- Always be pleasant and professional to work with (even when the pressure gets unbearable). Creative industries thrive on networking and word gets around fast.
Are there any pieces of advice that you wish you’d been told when you were starting out?
Not to worry so much about failing. You can’t avoid failing at the beginning as your skills do not necessarily match your level of taste (i.e the work that inspires you). Keep working through your failures and you will come through the other side a better creative. Ira Glass, a writer and broadcaster describes it very well here.
Whether you like it or not, if you are going into commercial art you need to understand business even at a fundamental level. This includes networking, what employers are looking for, what employers need to produce for their clients or audiences. By understanding the needs in the value chain you will better understand what you can bring to the party.
What’s the proudest moment in your creative career so far?
Releasing our short film The Olympians – it took almost nine months and countless late nights but it was totally worth it!
Matt Ratcliffe is co-founder of creative studio Masters of Pie. He has over a decade of experience in creating 3D experiences across a variety of platforms with a key interest in building worlds and narratives with cutting edge technology such as virtual reality. Masters of Pie produced an award winning short called the Olympians and now creates virtual reality experiences for global brands.