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Meet Robert Fikes

Today we’d like to introduce you to Robert Fikes.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Robert. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Video games are what got me deep into the digital world. I spent a lot of time searching the internet on guides, tips, tricks, cheat codes, and even glitches on how to get the most out of it. Seeing other people’s signatures on gaming forum posts is what got me into digital art. I was inspired to learn how they made, so I started editing pictures and made my own signatures in Microsoft Paint. Eventually, I torrented Photoshop and Gimp to make cooler effects and animated GIFS.

In high school I decided to take Digital Art as an elective. I had a great teacher and ended up taking the class for all four years. I spent my breaks and lunches playing around in Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, Dreamweaver, and Garage Band. After school I played a lot of Star Wars Battlefront II and figured out how to modify the game. Made four YouTube videos of the mods and ended up getting a couple hundred thousand views!

After graduating I decided to major in Computer Science since I knew computers were the future and that career would pay well. But I struggled to learn the concepts and did not find enjoyment from it. I ended up dropping out and had to figure out a different path. I realized that I should continue doing what I was already good at (Digital Art) and accept that I wouldn’t be a “rich” computer scientist. So, I went to community college to get my GPA up and moved to Denver to study Digital Design at the University of Colorado Denver.

Coming in I felt I was both behind in terms of having a delayed start yet ahead for already knowing Digital Art. Because of this I wanted to be the at top of my design classes and set an example for newer students. While in school I did three internships doing digital marketing and making websites. I also squeezed in new media art projects and exhibited them at the school’s galleries, meetups, and Redline Contemporary Art Center. In the end I graduated with high honors and was finally relieved that I finished college after eight years since graduating high school.

After graduating I did a couple of freelance projects making a music app for the CU Denver and several art installations for Club Vinyl’s New Year’s Eve party where I even got to perform my visuals on stage. Circling back around I was able to get a well-paying “computer science” job making a gambling app remotely on a contract for a company out in Georgia. But after about five months in my mentor, Cacheflowe, reached out and hooked me up with a dream job I’ve been aiming for quite some time here in Denver working at Hovercraft Studios.

There I worked on a lot of Nike projects building giant art installations for their special events and flagship stores all across America. On the side I continued making art for galleries and was even interviewed by CBS 4 News for a projection mapping piece I did on the Daniels & Fisher Tower as part of Night Lights Denver.

But recently I just got laid off from my dream job due to COVID-19 (Nike announced they won’t be doing any more installation work for the rest of the year). Now I’m in a position of figuring out how to readjust to these new circumstances. Currently, I’m updating my website to put in all the amazing projects I’ve worked on over the years. With all this extra time I’ve been learning a lot of new software and skills. Ideally, I’d like to do more work in the film and video games industry, we’ll see…

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
No it hasn’t. It was always trying to find that balance of doing fulfilling projects vs less satisfying ones for money, having a social life, and making time for myself to just relax and do nothing.

Please tell us about your work.
Pretty much everything made with computers I can figure out how it’s done and make it. I tend to focus on the latest digital trends, right now it’s real-time graphics. I’ve also experimented a little bit with machine learning as well. Since I’ve been following the digital world for about 15 years. Now I’ve gotten pretty good at designing, animating, and programming.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
Ideally, I’d like to be able to continue making digital art and make a lot of money doing so! Further down the line, maybe 10 or 20 years from now, I’d either like to start a larger business to scale the projects I do and/or give back and teach all this knowledge I’ve been collecting.

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Voyage Denver

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