From Lake Illawarra High to the BAFTAs

Playing kids’ games has paid off for a former Lake Illawarra High student, with a prestigious BAFTA award for his London company.

Ross McCaughey is lead illustrator for Moshi Monsters, part of UK entertainment firm Mind Candy. Part game, part social network with more than 80 million users, Moshi Monsters was last week awarded a BAFTA award in the Children’s Interactive Division.

“We had no expectation of winning. We lost in previous years we’ve been nominated, so it was incredibly exciting,” he said.

Studying at Lake High, then taking graphic design at TAFE, Mr McCaughey lived in Windang until moving to London three years ago. With scarce opportunities for illustrators at home, a move abroad seemed – and has proved to be – the right idea.

“I was looking for London studios who might want an illustrator, and found Moshi Monsters. I did a few Skype interviews and got the job,” he said.

“A few weeks later, I landed and was drawing monsters.”

Beginning with an online game where children raise virtual pet monsters to guide through puzzles and challenges, Moshi Monsters has expanded into an empire of music, books, magazines, Nintendo games and even a range of McDonalds Happy Meal toys. McCaughey’s illustrations appear on trading cards, game designs and stories within the in-game universe. 

“It’s been fun to work with this team and get my own spin on their world,” Mr McCaughey said.

“Designing new characters is the best. They’re monsters, they can be anything we want to turn them into. I recently got to draw a pineapple-headed scientist called Pinestein.”

Australian audiences will get a much better look at Moshi Monsters soon, with a Universal Pictures-backed movie coming to cinemas in February.

“I’ll be at Mind Candy for a while, working on wherever Moshi Monsters go next,” he said.

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