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Interview with Marcin Jakubowski

By Simon Morse

Web: http://www.balloontree.com/ (will open in new window)
Email: moc.eertnoollab@nicram

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Date Added: 11th January 2012
Hi Marcin, it is a pleasure to speak to you, I am a big fan of your work. We will start with a nice easy one: can you tell us a little about yourself and about your life in the CG industry so far?

Hi, thank you very much. I'm a constant dreamer, always thinking of other worlds. But as I can't send the vision directly into people's heads I use my painting skills to visualise ideas. I'm a painter and concept artist who has been working digitally since 2002. To start with I was a layout designer and a flash illustrator for a company making educational software, but after three years I chose a freelancer's path.

I understand that you are currently living and working in Poland. What are the opportunities like there for talented artists? And do you find that you do a lot of work for foreign clients?

The Polish CG industry is many years behind Western Europe and, of course, USA. The CG studios are rather small and made up of self-taught individuals, because there are still no schools offering valuable CG courses. The industry is focused on the TV commercial market, which is financially tempting. There are occasionally jobs in special effects for films, but we still haven't produced any full-length 3D animation movies. So it's sad to say, but currently it's not a good place for people looking for world class projects.

Fortunately the situation is gradually changing. There are so many talented people helping to develop the industry with dedication and passion. For example, our artists are among the winners in lots of internet CG challenges, and Polish shorts from Platige Image studio win many prizes at prestigious festivals. Working on local projects can be interesting but I wish I could work more for big foreign studios.

It seems like you started in a fairly graphics-based environment. How did you make the transition to concept art? Also you mention that there are no good CG schools in Poland; does that mean that you are self-taught?

Yes, I'm self-taught, not only because there were no CG schools, but because I just wasn't aware of my talent and career possibilities. I could have gone to some academy of fine art, but I had heard too many stories about starving artists who only became rich after their death, and I wasn't interested in such a fate! (Laughs). I noticed of course that I drew better than others, but nobody ever encouraged me to think about it seriously. I went to university and chose computer sciences and economics, but soon lost my interest and started to learn about computer graphics on my own. One day I discovered a concept art gallery from Star Wars on the internet and it was like someone had turned a light on. Suddenly I realized that it was possible to do art for a living, which hadn't been obvious to me before. Soon I found a job as a layout designer and I got an opportunity to look at good cartoon illustrators. I tried to learn from them and designed ultra cute, sweet, smart and happy characters (children's productions mainly), and developed a darker and
more painterly style just to keep the mental balance. This way when I decided to go freelance I was prepared for both a cartoon and dark style. This flexibility resulted in a variety of projects.

You have featured in a few different books over the past few years - congratulations! Do you think that this is an important way of getting some well-deserved attention, and what is it like to receive that sort of worldwide recognition?

Being featured in an art book is very satisfying, especially when I consider the fact that my art has been chosen from a number of images submitted by some of the best artists in the world. Besides, it's nice to see the image printed professionally; since I'm a digital painter viewing my work happens mainly on a monitor screen. I have no idea how much being in the books influences the general recognition I receive. I think that the internet galleries are more efficient, but paper books are grand for sure, and generate a kind of aura around the artist.

I have to agree with the importance of showing your work in the various galleries and forums, as that is where I find a lot of the artists that we use. Do you do most of your self-marketing online? Are there any other ways that you make people aware of your work?

Marketing online is extremely important nowadays. People believe that if they can't find something on the internet then it doesn't exist. I publish my works in popular online galleries, but I obviously could be more active. It seems that I'm just not a fan of the all social stuff popular today. Besides 90% of my work is under the NDA and I'm not allowed to show anything for months. I think that I should focus on precise searching for connections in the industry.

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