We recently had a chance to catch up with Ognyan Zahariev an aspiring games artist and Escape Studios graduate. Ognyan is heading to Codemasters to start his career next month and has taken some time to share his thoughts on life after Escape Studios and joining the workforce in the games industry.
1. So Ognyan, how did Escape Studios compare to your other educational pursuits?
In terms of quality I cannot compare Escape to any other course, workshop or university. The Games Course was really intensive and it is amazing how much one can learn in just three months. I believe that it is the experience of the tutors and the constant upgrading of the courses that makes the difference.
2. What was the most memorable thing you’ve taken away from Escape Studios?
That would be the long nights spent in the studio or at home working on the projects and the never ending inspiration. For the last part I give credit to Simon – our tutor and the way he designed the course. The topics for our projects provided both freedom and guidance in terms of what will be expected from us in the industry. I also made a few good friends that made the experience even more fun. Greetings to my Brazilian buddies!
3. Tell us about your upcoming new job and why you are excited about it.
I am really happy to say that I signed with one of my favorite studios - Codemasters. After the interview I tried to avoid keeping my expectations too high as I didn’t want to be disappointed in case they didn’t hire me. Inevitably I kept dreaming about it and in the end all the hard work through the years paid off. I will have the chance to work on some amazing projects and have the luxury of working with some of the best in the industry. What more could I ask for?
4. What is your new job title? What does it entail?
My job title is “Experienced artist”. I have to design art assets, model, texture and render. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do and what makes me happy. Having a chance to do this in such a place and one day have a published title with my name in the credits is a dream come true.
5. What inspired you to become a games artist and what advice would you give to an aspiring one?
I have always been fascinated by art. I used to draw all the time while growing up. As a teenager I used to play games for fun and it always amazed me how much imagination was put into a certain project and how much potential this industry has. At university I studied Computer science but I chose only design and art courses as there were no appropriate games art courses in Bulgaria back then. I learned everything I couldn’t get from the university by myself but Escape definitely took me to the next level. I am equally amazed by VFX and I think that both industries offer different challenges but nowadays there are more similarities between them.
My advice to the aspiring artists is to never give up because of frustration as persistence is the key to success no matter how cliché it may sound. All the times that your machine crashed and you lost your work or the times when you didn’t like the result but you kept on working hard will pay off in the end and you will find yourself getting paid for having fun while producing some amazing art!
6. Who is the most inspirational person you’ve dealt with in building your career to this point? Why?
I cannot think of a single person. There are many people that influenced me and I am inspired by numerous things on a daily basis. I have been inspired by the Old Masters like millions of other artists before me. I love the work of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. I grew up with all the Disney movies and I am grateful to my parents for this. I have also had the pleasure of working with some great artists in Bulgaria and I learned a lot from them. More recently I definitely have to point out the influence of Simon – my Escape tutor. His attitude and the way he spoke of the industry during the course was very motivating. The time we spent with Lee Danskin was amazing as well!