From Japan, with love
Last time I wrote here I was saying goodbye to the year 2014 and now I`m almost saying goodbye to the year 2016.
For those who don`t know I live in Japan now and I`ve been working at PlatinumGames as concept artist for 20 months already. I work mainly as environment designer going from main concept pieces to detailed drawn props. Overall pretty happy, though sometimes I have to paint textures haha.
The variety of projects makes it fun and at the same time challenging because you need to adapt to the style of the project but some freedom for the technique is given. From the games released while I`ve been there, TMNT Mutants in Manhattan, Transformers Devastation and Starfox Zero I only worked on the first one.
From the other games currently in development, Scalebound, GranBlue Fantasy Re:link, Nier automata and Lost order I can`t say yet in which ones I`m working on.
Working on licensed games is kinda funny, because in the recent years I completely stopped painting any fanart because I already did enough in the past but then became a job. The good thing as environment artist is you have a little bit more freedom than with the characters when it comes to an existing IP.
I wouldn`t say I got much better at drawing, sometimes even feel I got worse because due to deadlines you do the job good enough for the people who require it but in that sense I became very productive in pipeline and learned a lot about the development of the game in other departments where they use the concept I made, or when the planners require you paintings for several uses.
Not being able to show the stuff produced there was one reason to almost disappear from the online art community for quite a long time. In my free time I wanted to do personal stuff, but after so many years pursuing the dream to come to live here I didn`t want to regret not going to see places or making more experiences if I ever have to leave. That happened when I was in the UK and still hurts. Even within Europe I wanted to go to see many places but just skipped the chance because work was priority and now I regret. I speak japanese and this country is quite safe so moving around is very satisfying, just sometimes I`m too tired to even go to the shop around the corner hehe
With all that I ended up not drawing any personal stuff in 19 months, which as an artist is pretty bad. To feel better I was telling myself if I like what I draw at work, personal stuff is not that necessary….but it is. The only artistic thing I did out of work was some life drawing sessions and photography.
(Images from my work environment)
(Images from my free time environment, nice contrast with the work environment)
(It`s been a few months since last session I attended, but I have hundreds of drawings like this, is always but, but a bit far from home)
That long period of time, plus seeing people I used to hang out with getting better, moving around workshops etc and other stuff filled the glass and I said enough. On August 1st I decided I would draw every day after or before work at home, calling it a sketch, wip or finished, to have 31 new paintings by August 31st, the day I turned 31.
Another reason why it was so tough to get back to personal stuff is thinking of it as portfolio pieces. Last time I drew for myself I was building my portfolio to apply for jobs, and those paintings are usually quite stressful because depend on their quality you get the job or you don`t. But finally I got rid of that thinking and aimed it as a way to experiment, to not work by request, to have fun and at the same time learn, to remember things I liked when I was a kid and not care about the number of likes etc. There is this speech from Alan Watts asking what would you like to do if money was no object. Well, what would you like to draw if only you cared about your art?
You can see the 31 paintings below in order. I`m not really happy with the result of a lot of them but made me think what could I do next to like them more, and the process was always fun. Some days I even felt I could have more fun with a specific painting and said I would continue it one day……but that is not likely going to happen. Now I aim for the 365 challenge, one year of one personal sketch every day. I didn`t want to think of it that way from the beginning because it sounded to heavy after so long without drawing for myself.
It`s interesting how working on personal stuff also gave me more confident at work, because sometimes depending on the feedback you get you might feel insecure. Also feels good to be back online and chat with some people on the SNS or streams after a long time, it even allowed me to get feedback from a couple of friends which is appreciated. As much as I love traveling and workshops now I spend my summer and winter holidays to go back home a few days so if I can`t meet people again in person for a while, at least need to stay alive online. By the way I even made a twitch account, I only tested it a couple of times but feel free to follow if you are interested.
Now I just need to find the right balance because August has been pretty exhausting, need to be faster, better and start defining my style.
Hopefully will answer some questions I`ve been getting in private and this way the get answered in public.