Interview with Blaz Porenta
Интервью взятое сайтом 3DTоtal у великолепного хдожника по имени Blaz Porenta.
3DTotal: Hi Blaz, after having the pleasure of laying out your artwork - “20,000 Miles Lost” - in the Digital
Art Masters: Volume 4 book, it’s great that I can get to know a bit more about the artist behind the image. So let’s get things under way shall we? Could you tell us what sparked your interest in art? Can you
recall the first image you drew and what it was?
Blaz: Firstly, I would like to express a big thank you for inviting me to do this interview for your magazine and giving me this great exposure.
I’ve been interested in drawing and painting for as long as I can remember. I felt that expressing my
ideas through art was much easier than explaining it verbally. I put down everything I saw, from things
that had happened that day to characters from cartoons that I had been watching, animals from a zoo
that I had visited, etc. Fortunately, that urge to portray things around me still keeps me going today.
3DTotal: You’re currently the Art Director for Actalogic and prior to this you were AD at Zootfly. Could you tell us a little bit about your role and what sort of projects you’ve worked on whilst you’ve been there?Blaz: One of my first professional projects was for Zootfly, where they hired me as a concept artist for their The Hollow project – working on weapons design. I was 19 at the time and very inexperienced, so it was a great opportunity for me to get to know the industry a bit. The project unfortunately didn’t get published. At the same time I was accepted into the Academy for Fine Arts and Design in Ljubljana and because the school didn’t fill up all of my schedule, I started working as a freelance illustrator as well. I finished various projects and a couple of years later got back to Zootfly, only this time they invited me to take an Art Directors position. We did a demo pitch for a TimeO game, which was very well accepted by publishers and we got a Prison Break licence for the game. I stayed there for the first year of the production, but due to some differences in our point of view later on in the development process, I chose to leave the company and joined Actalogic instead.
3DTotal: Working for Zootfly must have been a dream job for a young man, still wet behind the ears in terms for work experience, so what tempted you to leave and go to Art College?
Blaz: My Zootfly experience was definitively a huge leap forward in my career. I got my first insight into the game industry, my first real cheque and, of course, a strong reference. But working for them before going to Art College was strictly freelancing, so when I got the opportunity to go to school and broaden my basic knowledge of art, I just couldn’t say no. At that time I wasn’t so confident and didn’t completely trust myself to work on such big projects. I knew my limitations and flaws, which I thought would sooner or later translate to my work. So I went to school to learn more about anatomy, art theory, spatial concepts, graphic design, etc. It helped a lot, not being just an illustrator at the end or trying to learn everything by myself. And as I mentioned before, I never fully left freelancing, which helped me to stay in touch with real world projects, and brought me back to Zootfly when I felt I was ready, with much more experience and greater self-confidence.
3DTotal: Not only are you an art director, you also dabble in doing freelance projects. One such project I would like to talk about is the illustration that you did for the rock band Siddharta’s album cover. Could
you tell us how this project came about and what it’s like to produce work for one of your favourite bands?Blaz: Just before joining Actalogic, I had also been contacted by Siddharta’s design team, Veto Group. We’d done some smaller advertising projects together before and when the “Siddharta – Saga” project came around, they called again and asked me if I was interested in being part of this epic journey.
I was totally thrilled, since Siddharta are one of my favourite bands ever, and I couldn’t have been
happier to join the team. The Saga Project was a publicly open journey for fans to monitor the development of their newest album, run under the production of a well known metal and rock music producer,
Ross Robinson. My part was to illustrate images for every single track from the album, which was presented through EP covers and later in the album booklet, as well as doing merchandise material illustrations for the band. It was a grand project, and to collaborate closely with a great design team, as well as the band itself, was a great honour to me.
3DTotal: Do you think that being a fan helped you to understand what the band were looking for in terms of artwork for the project?
Blaz: I believe that working on something you’re also a fan of definitely helps you to achieve better results. A project becomes so much more than just something to pay your monthly bills. You start living the
project and forget that you haven’t slept for a week. But with Siddharta it was a bit more difficult to understand their vision completely just because I was a fan. They are always striving to achieve something new and different than before; they always want to top their previous albums and concepts. Fortunately I worked closely with the previously mentioned Veto Group and Siddharta’s frontman Tomi Meglic. Those guys are an awesome team, and brainstorming was so easy that the overall look of the new album almost generated itself.
3DTotal: As I mentioned before, I had the pleasure of laying out your “20,000 Miles Lost” image in the Digital Art Masters V4 book, and I have to say I’m really glad that we’re showcasing this particular piece of yours in the book, as I never get tired of looking at it. What was the inspiration behind this piece and how long did it take you to produce it?
Blaz: Well, thank you very much for those kind words. The image was made for CGSociety’s challenge, “Strange Behaviour”. These challenges are all about having fun and I try not to think too much when doing an image for them. There is no client to worry about, and also I am not into these challenges for the prizes. So there is no pressure; it’s just case of having a blast with fellow artists and going with the flow when painting. As I showed in the book, I started with no special idea, but rather with some abstract forms and brush strokes, which eventually brought me to a final piece. I love working that way, where some lucky mistakes give you new ideas for the story. You just can’t get bored while looking for new things to pop out almost by themselves.
If there is no tight deadline for the piece I am working on, I really try not to hurry. This was true of the “20.000 Miles Lost” image, which I believe took me nearly two months to finish. But then again, it wasn’t the only project I was working on at that time!
3DTotal: You mentioned that you started with just some abstract forms and brush strokes - is this a style you adopt with all your paintings or was it just the best starting point for this particular project?
Blaz: The way I start to create a new piece varies from image to image. If I work on a project that demands a pre-approved design, than everything starts with sketches, outlined forms and concepts that could easily show if I am on a right track or not. It would be too risky to begin with some abstract forms and tell the client he needs to wait until the end of the process for the final image. Working out of random brush strokes and textures usually only gives an impression of the final image very late in the painting process, or even at the end, while early phases are rather unclear and I often change even the main elements in the image or overpaint the whole background. I don’t stick with the basic story, but aim more for the final visual impression. While I use this technique mostly for my personal projects, occasionally I start sketching in a very similar way. Putting down some unclear forms sometimes helps new ideas to pop out, while you can outline them later and produce concept art material for the project you are working on.
3DTotal: What has been your most accomplished piece of artwork to date, and why?
Blaz: It’s actually very hard to judge my own pieces like that. I must say that over time, every painting starts to look full of mistakes and there are lots of things I would change if I had to do them all over again. Having said that, I think that even today, “20.000 Miles Lost” still looks okay [Laughs]. I am happy how the colours turned out and I got to paint a lot of zombie soldiers and some penguins! The same goes for the work I did for Siddharta. Although working in different art styles, creating one pack of illustrations and making them cohesive with the music from the album, was a nice challenge.
3DTotal: So where do you see yourself in ten years time and what would you like to have accomplished within this time frame?
Blaz: I have some ideas about where I would like to be 10 years from now, although I am more of a person that lives for the moment. In the near future I am sure I will attend some great art workshops abroad, to upgrade my skills and get a boost of motivation for new projects that are coming my way. Looking further into my career I just want it to be as diverse as possible, not doing only one type of work until the end of my life. Everything goes, from drawing concept art for a movie or game production, to painting final art pieces for cards, book or album covers. As long as the project represents a challenge, I will put everything I’ve got into it. And since Slovenia is a very small place, I would love to work abroad some day, under the direction of much more experienced artists and learn from them.
3DTotal: Putting aside work for a moment, what kind of things do you do to unwind when you have
a spare moment?
Blaz: A spare moment? What’s that? [Laughs]. Joking aside, I actually find some spare moments. I’ve practice Ninjutsu for over ten years now, and air-soft for nearly three years. It has to be something full of adrenalin and a bit extreme for my taste. I am also a movie freak, which means I am a regular at the cinema and I try not to miss any rock or metal concert around
3DTotal: Well it’s been a real pleasure chatting with you and getting to know a bit more about you,
Blaz. One last question before we wrap this up: As you enjoy the odd challenge or two, if you had to
think up one what would it be?Blaz: It would be interesting to have a challenge without a title, but with a theme song. I know music
helps me a lot while doing my paintings, so it would be nice to see what others see in that same melody. And of course I would like to thank you as well for introducing me and my works in your magazine!
Now that the album is out, all I can say is that I couldn’t be happier with the end result. The album is packed in a special hardcover booklet, containing a series of twelve panoramic illustrations, and the feedback from Siddharta’s fans as well as from those who don’t even listen to them was just amazing! You can check it out here
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