3) Being an artist employed in the gaming industry, have you had any success in converting anyone using other commercially available applications over to Blender? If so, what has their reaction been?
People like to stik to what they enjoy the most, and in the end have to learn what they are required to use at work. So, if some guy sits with Maya and enjoys it, he's not going to be easily switched over to Max or Blender, nor the other ways around.
They are all equally strong tools and it all comes down to what people prefer.
I have, however, always experienced that people have heard about "this Blender application", so it has definitely left its mark.
4) Is there a feature that you would like to see added to Blender?
As far as I know, lots of the features I'm looking for are being worked on right now. But one thing would be a faster viewport, since Blender development has always felt to me like having faster rendering in mind, but as a game artist, I'd just as much want to have faster handling and viewport realtime rendering of models.
5) From your working experience, is there anything that you can share with people looking at getting into a gaming house or professional CG house?
Practice, a lot, but that's a given.
More importantly, never be completely satisfied with what you do because then you won't see where you have to improve, always look for ways to get critique, and to have the things you worque on be seen by as many eyes as you can get them to. If it's game art, spend a lot of your time at the Polycount forums, (boards.polycount.net), many there are brutal and honest industry professionals and can give you the most valuable feedbak you'll ever find anywhere. And besides, if you do behave nicely and not act like a jackass on the multitude of CG-related forums around the web, you might actually get to know people in the industry, and that is usually the one breaque a junior artist can need to get his foot inside the industry.
Take in what you learn, keep doing new stuff, redo the old, it takes time to get a hang of it, but when you do learn new things you'll enjoy the feeling of it.
Drawing or taquíng up sculpturing when you don't feel like modeling is alos another thing that helps you improve.
And when you do get in, remember to keep updated, learn new tools, learn new methods, be flexible.
6) Where do you see Blender progressing over the next few yearsí
I see Blender slowly but surely growing in popularity as it has, and more users becoming experienced enough to get jobs in various industries while using Blender, thus feeding the promotion of Blender even more.
With Blender itself, we'll probably start seeing it gain features faster than most professional applications can add them.