DAREK ZABROCKI IS A PROFESSIONAL CONCEPT ARTIST AND ILLUSTRATOR WITH OVER A DECADE OF EXPERIENCE WORKING IN THE VIDEO GAMES INDUSTRY.
Darek Zabrocki’s current portfolio examples
HOW OLD WERE YOU WHEN YOU DECIDED TO COMMIT TO BEING AN ARTIST? WHAT WERE YOUR MOTIVATIONS/ INSPIRATIONS?
I always loved drawing and have done it for as long as I can remember. There was always a voice inside me saying that it would be absolutely amazing to work on some sci-fi movie or game one day,although I never took it too seriously. The breakthrough didn’t take place for me until 2007 when I bought my first tablet. After I got my first small commission, I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else. I decided to dedicate my soul to being an artist. In 2012, I founded Level Up! Educational platform with my buddy Wojtek Fus and since then I felt everything went like on the roller coaster. I was more motivated to not only share the knowledge but mostly educate myself on many fields, work harder and practice more than ever. It paid off and I landed in my first in-house job at Sony Guerrilla Games in 2014. Working on improving myself (outside of work) and putting a lot of effort to evolve as a concept artist, has lead me to many other opportunities- like working on Assassin’s Creed for instance.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB? WHAT DO YOU FEEL ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES?
I love the creative process. It’s such a pleasure coming up with something you have in your mind, and then sharing it with others. Sometimes you have to follow many rules, which is a challenge since your artistic freedom is a bit limited, but it can still be fun. The biggest challenge is definitely coming up with something fresh and interesting, as everything these days is somehow a “remix”. Another part of the job that’s a challenge is making designs not only believable, but also functional. This requires a lot of knowledge and research if you aren’t familiar with the subject matter, which is very exciting to me since I like exploring new subjects and playing in unknown areas!
ARE THERE ANY MISCONCEPTIONS YOU THINK STUDENTS TEND TO HAVE ABOUT CONCEPT ART AND ILLUSTRATION, THE JOB AND/ OR THE CAREER THAT YOU WISH TO SET STRAIGHT?
There is a lot of beautiful pictures and illustrations online at places like on Artstation or Facebook. So many young concept artists think that’s the work that they will be doing in a studio, when in fact, all those beautiful pictures you find are the ones you would rarely do in the studio.
From my experience we were focused mostly on assets in the studio and proper function of designs instead of doing nice looking pictures. I am not saying those are not important because concepting the mood or overall feel is also important. But the production pipeline looks quite different than many people imagine. It also depend somehow on the studio/project you work on. My work for Sony, for instance, was quite different than my work for Ubisoft (which is much more artistic and what I call: “Online gallery” friendly). A good concept artist will be able to prepare props as well as nice pictures and images.
CAN YOU SHARE A PERSONAL STORY, ABOUT A HARD LESSON THAT YOU LEARNED (ON THE BUSINESS OR ARTISTIC SIDE OF THINGS), THAT COULD HAVE BEEN AVOIDED, HAD YOU BEEN BETTER INFORMED?
I wish I had taken better care of my back and health in general from the beginnings of my professional career. We are not machines and I would recommend everyone to take care of themselves and treat their body well so you stay fresh and in a good shape.
This concludes Part 1 of our interview with Darek Zabrocki. In Part two, we discuss with Darek his Dos and DONTs of portfolio building, how he branded and marketed himself in the beginning, and much more. All images used with permission by the artist. ©Darek Zabrocki.