Hi Nacho, I feel like we have known each other for a while now as we have worked together so many times, but for those who don't know you can you tell us a little about yourself and how you got into the CG industry?
My name is Ignacio Bazán Lazcano and I live in Argentina. I have been working as a concept artist in the video game industry for five years.
My first contact with the world of digital art was just by chance. Thirteen years ago, a friend of mine told me that someone was looking for a sketcher for a PC game. It was a "no money-at-all” project, but we had dreams and wanted to make them reality. The PC game was finally finished and we could eventually sell some copies. I felt very proud to have been able to do the drawings (scenery, backgrounds and so forth), using crayons! At that point I was neither a professional sketcher nor did I have any idea about computers and digital art.
After having obtained a university degree in Publicity in 2005, I soon realized that being a publicist didn't suit me at all. I didn't know what to do or where to go. I had been drawing since childhood, but it was still just a hobby.
I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to turn my hobby into a career when I was hired by a small
company dedicated to video game development. At that time I had not had the chance to buy my own personal computer, so I didn't have any idea about using a computer to create art and did everything in the traditional way instead. Step by step, I became accustomed to the way the industry worked.
Nowadays I work as a freelance illustrator, and develop concept art for AAA video games. I have experience in advertising media, animation, pixelart, etc. I've worked for several companies, such as Gameloft, Global Fun, Sarabasa, and, lately, for Timegate. As for the future, I really want to be able to learn from the best artists of the world.
What are the opportunities like for a digital painter in Argentina? Do you find that you do a lot of work for foreign clients? Do you ever think of moving nearer to the huge projects?
In Argentina, lamentably, there are neither many opportunities for concept artists, nor any chance for other kinds of artists to work. My country has a high level of education and a very rich cultural history, nevertheless, many Argentine artists who have excelled because of their artistic talent have had to work abroad to win professional recognition. I think that in my country we haven't yet learnt the worth of this kind of talent; if an artist hasn't been recognized abroad first then he won't be recognized.
Argentina is a contradictory country. While everybody can study art, once you have been trained there are no working opportunities available to earn enough money to live well and meet your basic needs. Sometimes artists accept underpaid work to earn their living.
My income comes mostly from foreign clients. They appreciate my work and give me the opportunity to reach a professional level. My dream is to work for a foreign company and be taught by the best artists in the world, then to bring all this experience back to my country and teach other artist. I would like Argentina to have a greater presence in the art world and become one of the best countries to work in.
It seems like your route into the industry was a peculiar one. What advice would you give someone who had the ambition to be a concept artist?
I would say that the best thing to do is to work on any project you like, regardless of the payment you get for it. The most important thing is to have a good
portfolio. Nobody will hire you if you only have one drawing to display. The point is to work on anything you can (comics, cartoons, etc). Exhibit your drawings on blogs, Facebook, Photolog, Deviantart – anything. The world has to see what you are doing. Someone, somewhere, is going to find you.
Better work will come with effort; it's like going up stairs, step by step, climbing up from one job to another. Luckily the entertainment industry is large and constantly growing, and as a consequence needs qualified people. One can be a concept artist for advertising, movies, video games, etc. There's a lot of work to do.
I understand that you are a fan of music and you list drums as one of your interests – do you play? Also do you find that choosing the right music to listen to whilst painting influences your art and your mood?
I have always loved music and yes, I play drums. I like the drums a lot! I have been a drummer for twelve years, performing with several local rock bands. Nowadays, it is only a hobby, because I realized that I love drawing and painting more.
When it is time to draw or paint I put on music to help my creativity; the music choice is dictated by what idea or subject I have to illustrate. Generally I prefer British music; I love English rock bands, especially Queen, Supergrass, Blur, Morrissey, Arctic Monkeys etc.