Mel Blalock wanted her work to feel aligned with who she is. Eventually she found her niche, not by figuring out what she wanted to do, but mostly by discovering what she didn’t.
“I’ve never really fit into any of the convenient boxes,” Mel said. “I’m easygoing. I’m creative. I have a great need for balance in everything in my life, my work and my relationships. And I can see things from a lot of different perspectives.”
First the traditional route
Mel took the traditional college route first, studying economics at Tulane University in New Orleans. During her junior year at Tulane, she interned in London to get on-the-job experience with a fashion design consultancy.
“It’s easy to be authentic with my strengths, but it takes conscious effort to be authentic in my weaknesses as an artist.”
“Maybe those old wonky-wheeled suitcases we packed with couture and dragged to photo shoots around the city helped me see the light,” she said. “But I realized during that long hot summer, I wanted more from a job than what economics or fashion could offer.”
Reassessing her career options upon her return from London, Mel kept thinking back to the things she enjoyed most and felt connected to when she was in high school. She loved art and was good at it. And she had a penchant for video games.
So she did an about-face.
Natural leap of faith
Upon completing her economics degree, Mel took a leap of faith in her natural talents and enrolled in the Academy of Interactive Entertainment to gain specialized education as a 3D game artist. The experience pushed her in a good way, offering the solitary nature of creating art and the opportunity to team up with like-minded creatives. She has worked tirelessly to transform her natural instincts as a painter into the technical skills of a digital animator.
“Being a video game artist is perfect for my personality type.”
Armed with an Advanced Diploma of Professional Development, Game Art, and Animation, Mel knew where she wanted to go now, but was struggling with where to start. She was also wondering how to maneuver the male-dominated world of video game design. She hired Carole Dupre, career coach and founder of HerNature, to help clarify her personal brand and embark on her quest.
“I was working with a bunch of different pieces I knew about myself, but none of them really fit together into anything that resembled something employable,” Mel said. “Carole helped me put all those pieces into a cohesive picture and just really helped me make sense of everything.”
Along with the development of her uniquely branded career documents, LinkedIn and job search strategy, Mel also launched her New Orleans-based business BlueBelle Art LLC and website. She has since built a diverse portfolio of banners, crests, logos and other commissioned artwork for gaming community clients.
Staying the creative course
Mel is ready to make her biggest move yet—to Los Angeles—the center of the video gaming universe. She’s committed to doing what it takes to break into the industry and continue building her design skills. But she’s also honest about the challenge of staying true to herself as she pursues the creative non-traditional game artist role.
“It’s easy to be authentic with my strengths, but it takes conscious effort to be authentic in my weaknesses as an artist,” she said. “Carole helped me see that it was cool to be me and not necessarily what I thought the industry wanted me to be. It was so nice to have an unbiased opinion.”