In Mar of 2023,Ji Zhu,Brand manager of Mecrob Team,decided to interview one of our favorite artist, Alexander Trufanov,Art Director at Owlcat Games, Concept artist on Artstation and clarkesworldmagazine and teacher at the Smirnov School.
Neil:Hi Alex,How did you start as an artist, and what led you to become a concept artist and teacher?
Alex:I have started drawing seriously, when I was at university. It was IT university and it was supposed that i would be an IT engineer. But After I have received my diploma, I started looking for a job in the gaming industry. I liked coming up with new ideas and so I decided to try myself as a concept artist.
When I studied at the university, I taught computer science to students, that is, I had experience. Therefore, when I was offered to teach concept art - I agreed, I saw 2 big advantages in this for myself - I will understand the material better, and I will help others.
Ji:What are some of your favorite projects or artworks that you have worked on, and why?
Alex:I worked on many projects, but the one I liked the most, was the one that unfortunately never came out.
I liked to come up with unusual creatures, the appearance of characters, locations. The project was not based on any IP, so we had complete freedom of creativity. It was that i liked very much.
Ji:How do you balance your creative work with teaching at the Smirnov School?
Alex:I'm definitely not a good example in this matter.
I'm constantly running out of time.
A good advice is - to rest and take breaks, no matter how hard you work.
Ji:What inspired you to create the SMOG project, and how did you develop the concept?
Alex:I had went to this project for 3 years before I came to what I have now.
This project consists of things that are close to me - technology, science fiction, retro, post-apocalyptic. All those things that were around me when I was growing up and developing as a person. At a certain stage, I decided that I would combine everything that I love in the project. This is my personal ground of experiments.
I try to look for inspiration everywhere - movies, games, books.
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne had greatly influenced on the project.
Many ideas went through a large number of iterations. There were many unsuccessful jobs. I came to ideas gradually through trial and error, it took months.
Ji:Can you tell us your favorite characters or designs from SMOG and Why?
Alex:I really like underwater tribes. You definitely saw them. These are guys in gas masks and suits reminiscent of a nautical theme with some influences from Indian fashion. It seems to me that they turned out to be really original, at least I have not seen anything like this anywhere. (By the way, I didn’t get the result that I like right away, but after half a year of various attempts and ideas. Unlike robots - animals. I got what i have now at the first try. In general, I never had problems with drawing mechanical parts probably it is the reason.
Ji:What is your thought about Chat GPT? Is it dangerous to the future of Artists?
Alex:Complex issue. It is possible that many will disagree with my opinion. I think it's great technology. I love new technologies.
But what scares me is how they are likely to be used.
Rogues are looking for easy ways to make money and deceive people, corporations are looking for new ways in order to minimize production costs and maximize profits. I don't want to go deep, I want to think that I'm just a pessimist and everything will be fine in the future.
Ji:What are your thoughts on Cyberpunk nowadays?
Alex:I think we are already in it. And we are moving towards it quite quickly. In my opinion.
Ji:Our Cyberpunk spider lamp takes inspiration from your SMOG project, and We use the art of remaking to turn it into an Assembled toy. How's your feeling about it, and What do you think about this combination?
Alex:I really like it. I think it is amazing work ! You managed to transfer the main idea and atmosphere of this creature! It's very cool. It's great that you transfer the color contrast between the main lamp and the eyes.
The realization that my work has influenced people and helped to make something interesting is the best reward for me. Drawing something is difenatly easier than assembling it in real life.
I'd be very happy to put such a reat lamp on my table =)
Ji:Steve Jobs said technology alone is not enough. It's technology married with liberal arts married with humanity that makes our heart sings,What do you think of this concept?.
Alex:I've always thought that good design, (I mean now characters for a game) is always a good balance between function and aesthetics.
When you create new technologies, you should think not only about what unusual thing you invented, but also about who will use it and how, etc. In the end, everything we do we do not for ourselves, but for people to make them life, more convenient, happier, encourage to develop as a person. Technology cannot simply exist in isolation from all this. They must be useful. So yes, I agree with Steve Jobs.
Ji:Is inspiration necessary in creating art? Why or why not?
Alex:What is "inspiration"?
I haven't really defined this for myself. Sometimes I look at something and immediately an idea or thought comes to me, how I can adapt it to my project, or how to process this idea into something that I think will be interesting. Can this be considered inspiration?
Or, for example, the state of flow, a special state of a person, which is characterized by high productivity, a huge upsurge and concentration of forces, when you are so passionate about work and do not notice how the hours fly by. Can this be called inspiration?
I can say for sure that 70% of my works are the results of long and hard work. I think the most important thing is to do what you like, to immerse yourself in the work with your head and with all your heart, and then inspiration will be with you for as long as you want.
From my own experience I can say that in order for inspiration to visit you more often, you need to rest, give your brain a break.
A tired brain and inspiration are incompatible things.