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Star Wars Artist Gives Students the Low Down on High-flying Career

UNIVERSITY students were treated to the low-down from a high-flying artist as part of a four-day careers event.

Glyn Dillon has worked on Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Rogue One and is the author of award-winning graphic novel The Nao of Brown. He was the keynote speaker on Tuesday, the second day of Wrexham Glyndwr University’s Creative Futures programme. The event is designed to give students valuable and practical insights into how to make viable careers in the UK creative industries

Dillon told students assembled at William Aston Hall that he was inspired by his brother Steve, older by nine years, who at just 16 years was drawing the title story for Hulk Weekly for Marvel UK.

Glyn’s first drawing job was drawing covers for cassette computer games and aged 17 he went into comics, working for seven years on titles including Crisis, Deadline and 2000AD.

He then moved to drawing storyboards for film and television which he told students was fantastic training for learning to draw well and quickly.

After working on ideas for television and becoming frustrated at the process of trying to get commissions and funding he turned his attention to producing a graphic novel. Having drawn only 12 pages, he showed it to a friend who suggested he let a mutual friend who worked in publishing see it. The publishing house was interested and he secured an advance.

Dillon shared his drawing process with the students and also tips on managing deadlines and staying healthy in a job which means long hours leaning over a desk. To finish his graphic novel he worked from 7am to 3am seven days a week for months and was hospitalised with four slipped discs. He now recommends working steadily and getting up to walk around or using a standing desk.

After the novel Dillon returned to more lucrative film work to support his family, this time as a concept artist in the costume department on Jupiter Ascending, Kingsman: The Secret Service, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and Rogue One.

He secured the work on Rogue One and the next Star Wars spin-off by putting his hat into the ring when he heard the projects mentioned in the office while working on Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Asked for his advice to students seeking to emulate his success, Dillon said:

“Draw lots, be in the right place at the right time and be ready to seize the opportunity when it arises.

“There’s a fine line between being brave and being stupid. You might look stupid sometimes but if you don’t ask you don’t get.”