1. We got to know you a few years ago, when you were an emerging talent. Today you are a Concept Artist, working for renowned production in the field. Tell us a little bit about how the last few years went for you.
Let’s say that really, since the last interview (which dates back to 2016, if I’m not mistaken), so many things have changed! After two years working as a freelancer, at the beginning of 2019 I bravely decided to leave my beloved Italy and to move to London, where I currently live and work. When I arrived in the UK I was not so confident, because I didn’t have many business connections and I still felt quite inexperienced. I spent about a month sending CVs and portfolios, beside taking part to many events and conferences about digital, gaming and vfx (events are very important!), where I met hundreds of recruiters and other creatives working in the field. Luckily, after about three or four interviews, I managed to sign my first contract as a Digital Matte Painter in the movie industry.
I will never stop thanking Jellyfish Pictures, a company that immediately believed in me and made me grow up a lot! I worked for Jellyfish Pictures since February 2019 to August 2020, taking part to two big DreamWorks productions: “How to Train Your Dragon: Homecoming” and… Oops, unfortunately I can’t tell the second title, because it’s still in production. Haha… After this great experience in cinema and animation, anyway, I decided to switch to the video game industry and to change my workflow as well, moving from the DMP to the Concept Art department, which is a field that excites me a lot, above all from the creative point of view. So, in August I decided to move back strongly to the freelancing market, beginning immediately to work for Wizard of the Coast. About a month later I joined the Art Department at We Are Royale (a video game industry based in Los Angeles), where I’m working as a Senior Concept Artist. Without revealing too many spoilers, I can just say I’m involved, until the end of December, in a Square Enix production for PS5.
2. You are currently working remotely. Is it because you prefer it or is it due to the COVID situation?
I’ve been working remotely since the 20th of March and I have to say it’s not so bad to work at home, since you can enjoy so many comforts (you can work in slippers and scream on top of your lungs while you listen to AC/DC… and you even get paid to do that! hahaha). All kidding aside, I think remote working is a significant step forward for the whole entertainment industry, because it allows both companies and employees to work in perfect harmony, even if they live a thousand miles apart. Of course, for those who love office life, working from home can be a little bit hard and heavy. In the first few months I missed a lot the office and my colleagues, because working from home depressed me and slowed down my workflow a lot. Then I got used to that, changing a little bit my lifestyle, organizing my working day and spending a lot of time playing sport and keeping my mind off with movies, video games, books and so on.
3. How do you use the different 2D and 3D tools to create your works?
Two years ago I used to work only with Photoshop, but I noticed obvious limitations, even when I was working on my personal projects.
So I decided to study some 3D (Blender) to expand my knowledge and improve my workflow. When I work for clients or personal projects, I only use Photoshop, Blender (for sculpting, modeling and lighting) and Gaea, which is a very useful software to create Environment. In production, instead, I happened to work a lot also with Maya, Nuke Octane and 3D Coat.
4. Art Director and Concept Artist: how do these two roles interact in a company?
Sometimes the connection between AD and Concept Artist is essential, sometimes it isn’t. Based on my experiences, I have to say I have had very good ADs, but also ADs who weren’t so great from the technical and artistic point of view. Often Art Directors are mainly figures which bridge the gap between the artistic department and the production, even if very often I disagreed with several of their decisions.
That’s exactly why I decided to start my own business: to be more self-dependent.
An advice I can give everybody is to always tell what you think (politely, of course!) without letting people walk all over you.
For example: many juniors are seen like “guinea pigs to slaughter”, in fact it often happens to see them working longer hours than they should, and also acting several “roles” at the same time. This is absolutely wrong and I hope one day this “useless behaviour” towards young people will end!
5. More and more companies are opening their doors to the digital and virtual world. Is our country ready?
I know it may look like a dream, but I’m confident about Italy and I’m convinced it will have its say in a few years, above all in the video gaming industry. Unfortunately, for what regards movies, Italy is still not ready to make the leap to the next level, which other countries have already done decades ago. For the video gaming industry I’m more confident, because there are already strong companies which are growing very fast and have extensive room for improvement! The gaming field is growing exponentially and will substantially overcome, in terms of incomes, the movie field, unless a new super technology will come out and break through just in movies and not video games, but I doubt it!
Thank you for your time, Domenico, and good luck for your future projects!
Guys, it has really been a big pleasure to hear from you! Keep in touch and good luck!