Interview with Tomasz Strzalkowski
Hello Tomasz, could you tell us a bit about yourself and your background in CG and are you self-taught or have taken some training?
I work as an art director for Flying Wild Hog. In the past, I worked as a senior 3d Artist, then as a Lead Asset Artist for People Can Fly. I also had some working experience in advertising agencies and I was an editor and tester in 3d graphics magazines – I was testing various devices and software applications, which gave me the possibility to work with many advanced CG tools. When it comes to fine arts, I graduated from artistic higher education institution and I hold a Master's Degree.
However, I had chosen CG before I applied for a university. I was learning to use the CG applications by laborious testing, checking and playing the tutorials from books and graphic magazines, so we can say that I'm self-taught. I was fascinated with computers and the possibilities they were given as far as the graphics were concerned. Next, I discovered 3D applications and I was flabbergasted with them. The opportunity to create a virtual world, places and objects, at which you could look from different perspectives – it was totally remarkable for me. What I've got to like the most was that you could create things that are impossible to exist in a real world; however, they look as if they were real! The possibility to create those virtual worlds and in a way to enter them is just incredible. It gives you the chance to put your ideas into life. And I've always been interested in fine arts.
Please tell us about your past and current jobs. How you end up with the current job?
The previous company I worked for was People Can Fly where I took part in the production process of such games as Painkiller, Painkiller: Battle out of hell, Painkiller: Hell Wars (Xbox) as a senior 3d artist. Next, there was a project in which I worked as a Lead texture artist but, unfortunately, it was cancelled. Then I worked on Bulletstorm as a Lead environment asset artist. I was also partially responsible for the conversion of Gears of War for a PC. At the moment I'm an Art Director for Flying Wild Hog and we're currently working on a new project.
How does your typical workflow look like?
First, I come up with an idea and then I try to make a sketch on paper about it as soon as possible. It's like a note for me. Then, I create initial 3d models. During that process I always try to develop my first idea until I decide that it's quite satisfying for me. I do the rendering of what I've already completed and I make sketches on it to get the best effect. All this process is really about discovering something that exists in my head and when I'm starting to see it I feel really excited. Some solutions are often obvious at first, but in practice they are not always the right ones so I start again until I feel that this particular work is what I wanted to achieve.
Your work is totally different from other artists may be "trees", "branches", from where you got such inspiration and reason for such concepts
I like trees a lot, their shapes and fabric – there is a lot of inspiration there. When you look closely at the trees, every time you can find something new, something remarkable and mysterious. A quite uncontrollable technology is very inspirational as well. The combination of trees and technology and searching for a symbiosis between them is, in my opinion, very interesting and a little bit frightening, too. It's difficult to say what is emulating what – is it the nature that thanks to evolution tries to adjust to new conditions and it wants to take on the shape of uncontrollable technological objects? Or maybe the other way round, maybe it's the technology, living its own, independent life, which tries to emulate the nature and takes on its shapes, regarding them as more advanced? Maybe the technology wants to become nature and tries to create similar, or even better environment for itself or to substitute natural environment altogether. It might also be the case that technology wants to create its own perfected world with a more advanced evolution, the technology which considers nature to be the best example and reaching the conclusion that nature is in fact superior to it. I really don't know! Of course, it doesn't happen in all my works, but each and every work has its own story which can be read in hundreds of ways. Whenever I create something like this, I always have at least a few explanations of what is really going on there. And even if there is the one main explanation, it's all about everybody finding their own stories there. That's why I like when there always remains something unsaid.