Eric is a freelance concept artist working for clients such as Activision, Blizzard Entertainment, Electronic Arts, THQ, Liquid Entertainment, Dreamworks & The Aaron Sims Company. Most of his work casts a wide net, ranging from Call of Duty Black Ops franchise to helping out with the skull logo on Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Read below for the full Q&A…
Tell us a bit about how you got involved in the industry and how you gathered interest in becoming a concept artist.
Eric: My interest in concept art started back in college during my years at Art Center. I went in as an illustration major, not really knowing what career path I wanted to pursue. I knew I liked to draw and I wanted to make a living doing it. I knew I didnt want to be a fine artist or an editorial illustrator. I grew up on comic books and anime. I just had to marry my artistic skills with my artistic interests. Concept Design was kind of this new area of study that sprang up and I thought it would be fun to pursue that. It became the only feasible way to do what I wanted to do for a living and enjoy it. One incident that sticks out to me was seeing the Art of Star Wars Phantom Menace book for the first time. It was one of those moments when things become very clear. Something inside me clicked and I found my calling. Yeah, things worked out pretty well.
In the creative field, there aren’t many concept art positions to go around, and some even get overwhelmed by the portfolio competition. Was the road to where you’re at a hard one to travel?
Eric: I think things are opening up in regards to opportunities for concept artists. 5-6 years ago things were really tough. Let’s be honest, theres a lot of money in video games and movies so its definitely a growing field, but it’s still very competitive. The competition never really bothered me. By the time I finished school it was just something I became used to. Sure, it sucks when you know another artist is better than you by leaps and bounds. As an artist, thats just an indicator that you need to step your game up. The road has not been easy, but I’m glad.
You often get inspiration from fashion blogs to draw. What kind of wardrobe style are you attracted too? Does the character always reflect his style of clothing or is it the other way around?
Eric: There isn’t one kind of style that I’m attracted to. I follow everything from street to high fashion, menswear to womens wear. In character design, I think the style of clothing reflects the character. This isnt limited to clothing. The shapes or motifs you use on a character can describe who the character is and what his purpose is in a game of movie.
What are the differences working for video game companies versus films?
Eric: This varies from person to person, but for the most part much of the film work I’ve done has been used for pitches and to garner interest from movie producers. The work I have done for video games has been more production specific, meaning my concepts are going to be built and be in a game.
Can you give us an update on Sorcery for the Playstation 3? Describe what kind of game it is and what kind of concepts are you working on/how much of it will actually make it to the final build?
Eric: ‘Sorcery’ was a fun project to work on since it was an original intellectual property. This left things pretty open for me creatively, which is every concept artists wish. I designed the main character as well as some of the bosses you will fight throughout the course of the game. Sorcery is the first action adventure game to utilize the Playstation Move controller. You pretty much use the controller as a wand to attack and cast spells. I didnt play that much of the game while I was on the project and I’m not sure what will make it into the game or what will be cut. I cant say much else about the game because its still in development.
You are also very talented in 3D sculpting. Does your mind have to turn on a different creative switch in order to work with different mediums? Or do you apply the same principles to sketching and illustrations as you do sculpting?
Eric: I wouldn’t call myself a 3d artist or sculptor by any means. Zbrush is just something I play around with from time to time. The only thing that is different about working in 2d or 3d is the software. I wouldnt say my brain works differently. I’m still trying to achieve the same result, the only difference is the medium. I use the same set of rules with drawing, painting, or sculpting. My process is always very general to specific. Big ideas come first, details come last.
Do you have any favorite Asian films or Anime?
Eric: I grew up watching Chow Yun-Fat movies (God of Gamblers, Hard Boiled) so I’m a sucker for Hong Kong gunplay films. I used to watch a good amount of anime and read manga in my early teens. I pretty much grew up on Dragonball, back when Dragonball was only translated into Asian languages. I was a huge fan of Masamune Shirow and his works. Ghost in the Shell is still one of my favorite animated films. However, when my art education began, I had to get anime and manga out of my system, but the influence is still there.
Working on Call of Duty: Black Ops I know you left the project wishing you had contributed more. What limitations did you experience and what can we expect from Black Ops 2 later this year?
Eric: I was brought in to help out on Black Ops when I was close to leaving the studio I was at at the time, so my involvement in its development was cut short. I’m not at liberty to discuss in detail what Im working on at Treyarch. The work I’m doing right now is “classified” [laughs].
Do you have any plans to perhaps release an artbook of all your work someday? What other kind of future projects can we expect from you?
Eric: I think I’m a long way from anyone wanting to see an artbook of all my work. But, hopefully someday. I’m not sure what my next project will be but my wish is to continue working in video games and possibly break into designing for more movies. I’m currently working on a tutorial for character design so hopefully I’ll have the chance to share my knowledge with some of you soon.
Thanks to Japan Cinema for reaching out to me and showing me love. It feels good to know that there are people out there who enjoy my work. Thank you for the support, it really keeps me going. Peace and Love to all my friends and a big shout out to www.bloodbathproject.com!