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Joel Payne - Artist

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A native Californian, Joel Christopher Payne's story starts with a life-changing moment at the age four that would change the course of his life forever. Joel tells us, "My earliest memory that inspired my career came when I was riding on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, and I looked up to my mom and said, Look, Mom! Look how real the robots are.  At which point my mother without hesitation replied, -son, those are the waiters at the Blue Bayou. You'd think I was destroyed, but it was at that moment that I realized just how amazing Walt Disney was. I couldn't tell difference between the fantasy and the real thing, and I knew that I wanted to learn how to harness this kind of unique magic!" Disneyland and Disney feature animation would ignite a lifelong passion in Joel that would lead him to inspire others through his style of breakthrough art. While Payne didn't have any formal artistic training, at age 20, he would embark on a 22-year career that would be forge through the fires of on-the-job experience. "When I started doing digital art, computers could only handle 16 colors!" His passion would bring him to design elaborate worlds for 3D TV shows, Triple "A" video games, and multiple virtual reality rides. Industry training required perseverance in acquiring the skills and discipline that would prove to serve him well in future endeavors on his path to artistic freedom.

In 1993, Joel's big break would come from a company called 'New World Computing,' a game company known for the famous "Might and Magic" Series. His talents manifested in the service of building the worlds for six video games over the next several years. His very first game project "Heroes of Might and Magic" became critically acclaimed and is currently on its 7th sequel. In 1995 Joel would become one of the youngest video game directors pioneering techniques is Digital Set creation three years before Robert Stromberg would coin the phrase "Digital Backlot." In 1996, Joel finally got his chance to work with Disney on "Disney's Virtual Jungle Cruise" ride, still in operation in Florida's Disney Quest. Responsible for creating the rides river rafting track and 3D backgrounds, Payne learned from Disney Imagineers about the power of storytelling, color and lighting techniques that he still uses in his paintings today. From 1996 to present day, Joel would go on to build 3D worlds for Steven Spielberg's "Sky Pirates," Art Directing Disney's Atlantis the video game, Mortal Kombat:Shaolin Monks, Max Steel, and StarShip Troopers:Roughnecks, Silent Hill:Homecoming and Baldur's Gate:Dark Alliance. He would also score film music for world-renown Stan Winston.

I want folks to walk by my artwork and fall into it, live in it and escape for a while. I think this is why I began creating this type of magic in the first place, to make the illusion as believable as possible so that I could inspire others to live the magic Walt created in my life"