Johnson City Press: Featured Artist: Ty Ferrell is a military veteran and graphic designer with big aspirations
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Featured Artist: Ty Ferrell is a military veteran and graphic designer with big aspirations

Jonathan Roberts • Jul 1, 2019 at 12:00 AM

Similar to his artistic style, Ty Ferrell’s life has been full of “crazy twists” — culminating in, maybe, the least-traditional route one could possibly take when pursuing a career in graphic design.

Born in Pennsylvania, Ferrell moved around the East Coast with his parents “a lot” during his childhood. The cycle continued when he joined the U.S. Army as an infantryman, and later when he joined the U.S. Navy to become a Navy SEAL — though that didn’t exactly work out. 

“I wanted to try and become a Navy SEAL, but I was not cut out to be one, didn’t get through the whole testing,” Ferrell said with a laugh. “There were a lot of people saying I couldn’t and literally I couldn’t, but I did try and met a lot of really cool SEALs.” 

He did stay in the Navy though, working as an Aviation Ordnanceman. And after leaving the military — for good this time — he became a personal trainer, honing his craft on the side. It wasn’t until 2013, when he founded his Outlaw Hue, that he began his second career as a freelance graphic designer and 3D artist. 

Now living in Gray, Tennessee, Ferrell says his ideal projects are those with meaning, give back or, quite simply, are potential “blockbusters” or “AAA games.” Above all though, he’s a family man. And, as a freelancer with a wife and kids, he understands the difficulties that come with maintaining a work-life balance. That hasn’t stopped him from doing what he loves, as he says he always makes room for quality family time — no matter what is going on professionally. 

Ty Ferrell Briefly:

Video game or movie/TV series you want to work on: “God of War” and “Love, Death & Robots”

Mac or PC: “PC all the way!”

Biggest influences: Tim Miller and Jim Lee

Favorite comic book(s): “Daredevil”, “Booster Gold” and “Teen Titans”

Favorite Tri-Cities Restaurant(s): The Label and Phil’s Dream Pit

Were you always interested in doing 3D art and graphic design?

I’ve always wanted to be part of a big project -- always wanted to work on movies, big video games, big comic books but I didn’t know where I’d fit in. I started totally 2D with no computer and drawing, but I moved into 3D; it just kind of grew on me when I tried it and I had a knack for making realistic characters. It’s humbling to try and make characters as realistic as possible.

What’s your favorite part of being a graphic designer/artist?

My favorite part is the freedom. There’s a lot of freedom in creating, a lot of freedom still in the art of it. My favorite thing is when I get a client that wants a realistic character and gives me the demographics like age and everything and I have the freedom to just create this realistic character without being extremely specific on how it’s supposed to look.

How would you describe your approach to design?

Typically, it’s trying to get the environment that that character is in at first. I try to imagine the scenario they’re in — how hot it is, how the people around them are — and start gathering references for how that character looks. The environment mainly plays a role at first and I just start chipping away. It’s sort of like orchestrating an orchestra — big movements, not really looking for small details yet. Then, slowly start refining it. From there, the client will have the final say. It gives them something to look at, but if they say ‘no, I want it to look like Brad Pitt.’ then I take it back and make it look like Brad Pitt.

Is there any advice you have for people thinking about getting into 3D art or graphic design or just starting out?

Get some sort of mentorship where you actually have a one-on-one or something where you can talk to an artist whose already done this stuff. I think that’s huge and I wish I knew that. When I started, the internet was just a baby, now you can reach out to people and just get that mentorship going and most artists are extremely friendly to each other. I would say that’s almost bigger than what a college or university can offer you.

You said you’ve always wanted to work on big projects, is that still the case or do you have other career goals?

Now, it’s my big video game, my big movies. My thing is moving Outlaw Hue to a big studio where I can employ my own artists -- my own production team -- and work on big movies or make our own. And that’s what I’m moving toward now, slowly but surely. It’ll take some time, but that’s the ultimate goal.

For more of Ferrell’s work, check out his website (outlawhue.com) or follow him on Twitter (@outlawhue), Instagram (@outlawhue) and Facebook (@outlawhue), or subscribe to his YouTube channel (@outlawhue1). 

The Press is always looking to highlight new artists, if you have a suggestion for a Featured Artist, email Jonathan Roberts at [email protected] or Brandon Paykamian at [email protected].  

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