1. Hi Nicholas, how are you? Let’s talk about your path, how did you start your digital artist career?
Hey, nice to meet you!
I grew up on a healthy dose of movies and video games like plenty of other kids and fell in love with the storytelling aspect of it all.
Drawing just happened to be the most accessible form of storytelling for me at that point and it kept me interested long enough to eventually make a career out of it.
Being from Singapore, I chose to apply and got into Artcenter around 6 years ago. From that point on, most jobs i’ve gotten were through the people I knew there or people I met through my graduation show.
2. As a concept designer who has worked on theme parks, what would you say is the biggest difference between designing for theme parks compared to movies and videogames?
Every form of entertainment has its own sets of challenges.
When it comes to theme parks, designing an immersive experience means having to design set pieces with a level of detail that can hold up even upon close inspection.
There are also a bunch of real world safety standards we have to adhere to.
For instance making sure nothing you design is low enough for someone to grab onto or climb on.
3. What is the most difficult part to work on as Concept Artist?
While it does not happen often, sometimes you get handed other people’s visions that you really don’t believe in.
Those are the moments where you really gotta put on your thinking cap and figure out workarounds to find something good in what may be an inherently flawed concept to you. It is important to remember that no one is bigger than the project and everything you do should be geared towards making that project the best version of itself not what you think it should be.
4. As a Concept Artist do you need a deep knowledge of CG or it may be just a plus?
On one hand, I don’t think you “need” any one particular form of skillset to become a concept artist.
We’ve all seen everything from a tiny pencil sketch to a fully rendered zbrush sculpt used as concept art for film and video games to great effect.
That being said, having a larger skillset is only going to help improve the quality of your work. Having an understanding of how the other department works will only make you a better collaborator within the pipeline specially as you move up to a more senior position.
5. What’s the indispensable to create a character?
My goal for anything I design is really simply to create some form of emotional resonance for the people seeing it.
Stuff like costume designs, poses, expressions are really just there to serve the purpose of making people feel something about your characters.
My approach to character design is always first asking myself what is the impression I want the character to leave and then working backwards from there.
Same goes for environments.
6. What are the projects you are currently engaged in?
I was fortunate enough to get to work on a couple of Universal Studio projects recently. On the personal side, I’ve been exploring 3d printing and hope to eventually release some of my own sculpts in the near future!