Join Rob Garrott for an in-depth discussion in this video Part 2: How it all started, part of Artists and Their Work: Conversations about Mograph, VFX, and Digital Art.
- So, how did you get started? - Oh, it was maybe not an accident, but I was in Poland, like, 13 years ago, where I grew up and... I'm originally from Poland. And then one day we decided with a friend of mine to leave the country and do something else. So (laughs), we decided to send resumes all around. Yeah, my first choice was Australia, but it was super hard to get the visa to Australia. I never wanted to do anything illegal, and go work in bartending and then do my moonshining with the graphics.
So, I wanted to go legally with no problems, whatsoever. I found a company in the States, and we did the visa thing. I end up being in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and from there, there was an old agency that doesn't exist anymore, called Seininger advertising. - Yeah, I remember that place. - Oh yeah, so that's the Seininger school, so they found my website, and they literally asked me, "Hey! So, you want to do posters, maybe?" I was like, "Yeah, sure, why not?" - So, in Poland, were you already doing posters and creating illustrations, there? - No, I was actually working on flyers for supermarkets and stuff like that, but on the side, it's also my passion.
That's why I feel so good with it, because my passion was graphics. I was always doing something, and tutorials as well, and Photoshop. Before I came here, when I was in Poland, I became an Adobe-Certified Expert, as well. So, I was really deeply into this, but not strictly posters. - All right. - And then, when I had this opportunity of doing posters, I was like, "Hm, Okay, cool. "It doesn't sound bad, let's see what it's about." And so, they flew me to Beverley Hills and they tested me for a week, and after a week I was like, "Yeah, "Let's do it. Let's do the visa thing and let's start." And then, over the years, the one company collapsed, the other, you go from one place to another, and after 13 years, I'm still here, happy, and it's pretty cool.
I love what I do. - That's the interesting thing, that companies do tend to come and go, but the artists are always floating around the industry and they show up in different places. - Yeah, yeah it's one big family, actually. It's a few, maybe 10 or 15 agencies, and you know literally everybody because you used to work with this person here, or met him here, and we know each other, but it's, by no means, a closed community.
It's really an open community, they welcome almost everybody who likes posters, who likes to do this, because it takes a certain talent to do the poster. You have to find this metaphor. You have to think about it. You can't be just good with the Photoshop. Because then, you're not creating posters. You're just retouching stuff. - So is there anything about what the poster has become? I mean it's really your medium. When you look at your website, and that kind of stuff... Maybe we should switch over and take a look at that stuff. The work that you're doing on your website, I mean, you're fully devoted to the idea of the poster.
- I have some of the posters here. - Ah, that's beautiful. - Here, as well. That's some wonderful framing. So, let's talk about this for a second. For the concept for this, obviously, it's a movie about a guy on a planet, desolation in the future, and I would imagine at this point, when you made the poster, the movie's not done yet, and you don't have this shot to pull from, so where do you start? - Exactly. Here is the full story about this poster. I'm not sure if you saw the movie, but in the movie the bridge stands still, straight like this.
And so the idea was that, of course, we didn't have much to work with, because it was not yet rendered and yet done in CG. That's the challenge we are facing in the poster industry, that by the time we have to advertise the movie... special effects are not yet done. So that's why I'm using 3D to create this on the spot, and start promoting from, I don't know, a year before it premieres. This is the perfect example for that. The reason why the bridge on the poster is slightly tilted, is just to suggest that something is off with this world.
We're trying to avoid the I Am Legend kind of problem that everything is destroyed and ruined and stuff like that. This world is pretty calm, and you have nice weather there. But something is off. You see Tom Cruise walking straight, so subliminally you think that he's okay, he's not sick, he can kick some butts right now, but what you see behind him, subliminally, you know that something is off, and this is the idea. That without thinking too much, without talking about it, okay, something is off about this world.
You don't know exactly what happened but something is off. And that triggers your thinking about the movie and this is what I want. - So, at what point in the process, like, did they walk to you with the script or did they have sort of an elevator pitch for the movie, itself? - That was pitch, it was a combination of everything, we had a synopsis for this, we knew a little bit about the movie, we had some photos. So we're already exploring stuff. We were in the progress of exploring different posters. Different approaches with Tom Cruise closer, further, and with the different elements.
Of course there were different posters for this movie being created by few other agencies as well. But this, for us, was a challenge because we had a challenge and actually something really cool that we could actually use the 3D. Use it there, not just as a tiny, little thing somewhere. But it was the main, main, main piece, and we could actually make it big. It was actually printed later on, on billboards and stuff like that. So that looked okay. But the challenge with this was just how to convey the idea, so the idea was the main thing, and the execution was the second thing.
We had a few rounds with the studio, with the background because it adds a mood, of course, clouds are adding the mood to it. You don't want certain clouds and certain skies, and stuff like that. I can show you the 3D model. This is the 3D model we were starting with. - Excellent, now where did that model come from? This is from, partially, TurboSquid. Later on, in the finishing stage for the poster, it was slightly rebuilt. Because, I'm not sure if we can show this here, but this is kind of low pulley, and these lines are not perfectly-- - Yeah, you can see their vertex.
- Precisely, so for a comping, that was perfect. Okay, here is the idea, Tom is walking this way. - Right. - Let's do it or not. Yes, it was selected, so then came finishing stage for it, where, you literally take whatever we had and reillustrate this, and add details so it looks somewhat natural. Not CG, not fake. - Now, are you going back in, and using a similar technique to what you shows us in the Batman, where you're rendering this out flat and then coming back and painting in the details and the texture on, and with all the corrosion and stuff? - Yeah, that too.
That was covered with the default texture of rusty sort of thing, nothing crazy, but then details were created in the post-production, later on and then in Photoshop. It was easier for us because, just in case of the revisions, for example, there was too much rust, or, there was not enough rust. It would be easier for us to change it, turn off and on layers, the opacity, or masking, unmasking, and that would be a two minute job instead of re-rending it. - Yes (laughs). - To, some point I have to render files in the default lighting, nothing aggressive.
Not too much lighting, here. No harsh lights, no harsh shadows. - And then paint that all that in. - Precisely. Yeah, so that's Oblivion. What else, I have so many files, here. I also do my custom posters, my own commercial posters. These are posters I'm creating, maybe not for myself, but these are posters that are in my head and, as an artist, I want to just make them, make them real. So, I want to see them, I want to touch them. I print them on canvas and-- - Fantastic! - They have a second life literally on that.
Because, what we see, we get used to digital stuff that we can't touch. Actually, we can maybe swipe your fingers across. - Yeah, make marks on the monitor. - Yeah, yeah, precisely. But then, when you get this digital artwork, but it's printed on canvas with archival inks, it's something totally different. - Now, are you selling those? - Yeah, I'm selling those, too, as well. - What is the median rate, is it through a place like Etsy? - Yes, I'm selling through Etsy and through my website. It makes me happy, and it makes people that like my artwork happy, as well, and it also helps paying for my car.
(laughs together) This is my hobby, so whatever I make, it goes into car payments. It's like, "Okay, cool. Awesome." This is awesome, so I... Every few weeks, I have this idea that I can't get rid of, and I have to visualize that. I have quite a few unfinished posters of mine, but slowly, whenever I have time, maybe I will finish some of them. They'll pop onto my website, or on Etsy, or something. - Do you find that...
Do you ever get to the point that with the commerical work that you do, where you experience any kind of burn-out with the personal work, or do the two keep themselves in balance? - The reason why I'm doing this, as well, is to keep this balanced, to keep myself sane. I never actually, lucky for me, knocking on wood, I never had the moment where I was burned-out. I never had this moment happen in my life. It's a curse, in a way, because you keep thinking about it.
You can't think about something else-- - You never switch-off? - Precisely. It is a problem, I acknowledge that. It is a problem because you keep thinking, "Oh, maybe this will work, or this will work." There are other things in your life that you have to do. But you keep thinking about Tron, it's like, "Hm, What should I do... "Maybe there's a huge face made of something," and it never leaves you. In a way, I'm blessed with this, and in a way I'm cursed. Some time ago, I decided to divide my artistic life into two or three ways. One would be artistic life, commercial.
- Okay. - Where I do purely for commercial purposes. Marketing, for theatrical, video games, and stuff like that. This is commercial work that keeps me alive. Then, the other part is that keeps me sane. It's my personal work, like this, or my digital graffiti, where I can do whatever I want. It's whatever I feel like it should be, I can do it. It's self-challenging this way-- - You own it. - Yes, precisely, I'm self-challenging myself.
Like, can I do it in this 3D program, or maybe I can illustrate, maybe I can paint, maybe I can mix media. It's, for me, a way to experiment, and I'm not saying that in the commercial world, I can't experiment, I can, but the exploration there and experimentation is limited. There is only so much you can show on the street. You can't over-complicate commercial posters, because no one will ever-- - It has to be accessible, still. - Precisely, people will have to rely. You have to catch eyes, and people will have to figure this out in a split second.
For a poster like this-- - It can be subtle. - Precisely, for a poster like this, you can spend two hours in a gallary and gaze at it. It's like, "Okay, what is it?" But when it comes to commercial stuff, you can't. People drive by or walk by, and it has to hit them in the eyes, right there. These are my two lives, seperate, but some how together. They are connected, in a way, but it keeps me sane, I think. So I come home from work and I keep doing this. My wife is always, I'm amazed, like, (laughs) (mimicks wife) "What're you doing?" "I just had this idea, I have to do it.
"Just a second, two hours, three hours," and I end up sitting with a computer at four in the morning. (mimicks wife) "Okay, are you coming?" "Yeah, just a second, I have to finish this stuff." (laughs)
- Nick Campbell, motion graphics artist, photographer, and entrepreneur
- Marc Potocnik, designer and 3d artist
- Tim Clapham, VFX artist and educator
- Alan Torres and Stephen Morton (Cantina Creative), design and visual effects artists
- Aaron Limonick, concept artist
- Mike Lowes, 3D animator and technical director
- Lorcan O'Shanahan, motion graphics artist
- Scott Keating, 3D artist and illustrator
- Clear Menser, visual effects artist
- John Robson, motion graphics artist and filmmaker
- Grant Miller, VFX supervisor
- Tomasz Opasinski, creative director and movie poster artist
Watch for fresh insights into the careers and creative processes of these working professionals.