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Employee Spotlight: Jamie McKiernan

Concept Artist Jamie McKiernan is a woman who wears many hats at Harmonix – figuratively and literally. This Harmonix concept artist has worked on everything from hand-traced Dance Central flashcards to full realm layouts in Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved. Jamie has wanted to be a concept artist since the fifth grade, and is living out her dream at Harmonix. Her talents have since been recognized by the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences, which has recently added her piece inspired by Fantasia’s “The Hollow” to the Into The Pixel Collection debuting at E3. Read on to learn more about Jamie!

Spirit Elk


Hometown: Wareham, MA

Time at Harmonix: Four years

Known for her work on the following: Dance Central, Dance Central 2, Dance Central 3, VidRhythm, Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved.

Background: B.A. from MassArt. Double major in animation and illustration. Jamie’s previous work includes a gig at a local animation studio, as well as a stint as temporary tattoo arist.

Favorite Harmonix game: Rock Band. “I always had a good time with my college roommates. We created a band in the game called the 1.21 Gigawatts inspired by Back to the Future. We made a pretty sweet poster in the game.”

What it’s like working at Harmonix: I like all the opportunities there are to learn. I’ve been trained on modeling and there’s always someone there to teach you new skills. There’s a great dynamic among the concept team. We always make each other laugh with designs and constantly look at weird reference materials. The free diet sodas are a nice perk.”

Talents: “I won the Anime Boston voice competition. My monologue was Syndrome from The Incredibles monologuing. The prize was being in a Turkish soap opera as a double for a lady that gets shot in the face. There were no other opportunities available.”

Go-to karaoke jam: “Space Odyssee” by David Bowie sung just like David Bowie

Favorite musician: Weird Al

Hobbies/Side projects: Toy making, learning to play the theramin

Tips for breaking into the industry: “Take opportunities when they come up, even if it’s just an internship. That way you’ll make contacts and that could always turn into something else. If it doesn’t, you walk away with great experience.”

“Understand roles. I’m a generalist, but that’s needed sometimes in smaller companies. Be open to new experiences in a company rather than just sticking to what you know. Know other parts of the process as an artist so you know what you’re asking of from others. Know everyone’s role on the team so you’re not asking a coder for something impossible.”

Concept art tips: "There is a difference between concept art and production art. Some people may think a beautiful painting is what is expected day to day, and that is not true. A lot of time real concept art is quick and dirty, and is whatever you can get done in a couple hours. It’s the idea that wins over everything. The core is the idea not the polish or the art. It’s more concept, less art. You’ll never have the time to constantly make polished paintings over the course of a rapid development cycle.”

Final thoughts: “Draw inspiration from life, from friends, and everything around you. Don’t get caught up in just video games. That’s limiting. Seek inspiration from everywhere and your ideas will always be fresh.”

Jamie at Into The Pixel

You can see more of Jamie's work at and you can follow Jamie on Twitter @jamiemckiernan.