Hi Maciej, it is a pleasure to speak to you. Thanks for finding space in your schedule to let us know what you are up to. When doing some research I found a list of fantastic titles that you have worked on, but I couldn't find out much about you. Could you tell us a little about where you came from and how you ended up working in the games industry?
I come from Poland where I spent most of my life until I became a video games professional. I had never thought of art as a way of making a living and I kept thinking that way until 2003, when I first became interested in CG art. At first I mainly focused on learning 3D, although I quickly figured out that it's much easier to model interesting creatures or environments from my own concepts. Every single minute outside of school time was spent in front of my CRT screen and tablet. I used forums as a catalyst for all the personal work I had been doing and I finally decided to drop 3D and focus on concept work. This is when I got my first freelance job for a German table top game in early 2004. From that moment on everything started slowly coming together. After finishing university I kept getting small projects, doing mostly 2D artwork for online games and table top games etc. In June 2004 I got my first real job at People Can Fly. That was the breaking moment, I think, that ignited my career.
I have noticed that there are a lot of really talented artists coming out of Poland at the moment. Why do you think it is that so many talented artists come from your homeland, and is the education system over there set up to promote this kind of skill?
This is an interesting question and I don't think I could give a definitive answer to it. The artists' community has definitely been growing in Poland for the last couple of years, and it's great to see so many talented artists finding their spot in the industry.
However, I don't think it has anything to do with the education system. Most of the art-based universities still follow a very academic path that doesn't have much to do with entertainment or industrial design. There is only one animation school that was only opened recently, but that's just a ripple in a big ocean considering the needs of the people in the country.
I have been flicking through the piles of your fantastic work (whilst my jaw was dropping on the desk) and I noticed that you have a large variety of styles in your portfolio, from matte painting to speed painting and everywhere in between. Is this because of a desire to try new things, or just that the way you paint has developed over time?
I love to experiment and try things out. From almost every single technique I have tried so far I have taken away a few tricks and experiences that vastly benefit me and help me perform in my job. Apart from obvious things like Photoshop tricks, or using a mix of tools in concept creation, each painting style has brought its own challenges in terms of color, composition or detail. Making concepts for games usually follows a fairly straightforward pattern; you either work on the game ideas during pre-production or layout objects, scenes and characters for 3D artists – typical production art. I spend a little extra time outside of work experimenting to keep my daily work fresh, as the tricks I learn in my free time are the tricks I use later at work as an extra push to improve the quality of my studio's products.
It sounds like you paint during the day then come home to do some more painting. What else do you like to do in your spare time, and do you find that those things you do in your spare time inspire your art work?
There is a life/work/passion balance I usually try to maintain and I try to devote all the out-of-work time to my family. Obviously my wife doesn't much appreciate the times when I come back from work just to work more! So I limit myself so I won't burn both my personal relations and energy to work.
Apart from stuff like movies, games or going out once in a while, we love to travel and see cool places whenever there is time and the opportunity to do that. Seeing the wonders of nature helps to relax and fuel your imagination.
I also spend a lot of time with my wife doing exercise like running, hiking etc. California is a beautiful place for things like that. Over the last year I have found that regular exercise and generally keeping myself healthy and fit gives me much more energy than any amount of sleep I ever had.