I've been playing Alien: Isolation for the last few weeks and it is scary as hell.
Brad Wright, longtime deviant in the dA community, steps into the shoes (space boots) of Giger and Moebius as a concept designer for the Alien Isolation videogame. The game reportedly marks a return to the terror of the original “Alien” film in which scaring the audience to death was the goal, rather than the uncorking escalating levels of defensive firepower that defined the sequels. As Ripley’s daughter, players must survive with superior evasion tactics, not gun skills. A new concept to revive the series. Just the job for deviant Brad Wright.
Q: At what point did you realize you wanted to be a concept artist?
I had no formal art education, or any real introduction into the world of entertainment design. I took up drawing very late in life during University, probably due to the boredom of studying Graphic design and Advertising. Visiting older concept art communities online was the only source of educating myself. That and just grinding at teaching myself how to draw, then paint, then design. I was fortunate in getting a job relatively quick after that decision making period. Ten years later and I’m still grinding at learning this stuff.”
Q: What advice do you have for the designers in the community in getting work as a videogame concept designer?
Firstly to give up the notion that there is a shortcut, trick, or magic brush that will let you create master pieces or get that dream job. Instead do work. Lots, and lots of work. Every day we should all be drawing, and designing. Collecting sketchbooks filled with compositions, shapes, mechanics, and ideas. The harder you work, the more reward you will get. It’s getting tougher and tougher to work in this field, so you need to give yourself this edge.”
Q: How intimidating was it to take on a project that HR Giger, Moebuis, Ridley Scott and James Cameron, and David Fincher had worked on before?
Surprisingly, not at all. The source material laid out by these creatives is so solid and clear, that it’s rather a joy. The restrictions mean we were free from a lot of “umming” and “ahhing”, and instead could focus on creating beautiful art.”
Q: What do you feel was the most brilliantly conceived videogame?
I would have to say Deus Ex Human Revolution. The art direction resonated well with everything I enjoy. Cyberpunk, Neo classical Sci–fi. It was consistent, very clear and coherent.”
Does any videogame eventually get a bit boring because of the emphasis on mastery of the gameplay, especially the shooting skills?
What’s the scariest, as opposed to most exciting, videogame you’ve ever played?
Is there a videogame you won’t play by yourself, all alone in your place of residence, in the dark after midnight? Have you ever stopped in the middle of a game that became too “intense” for your nerves?
Duchamp finds a discarded urinal. He alters it (by signing a name to it not even his own, but obviously “the artist’s”)
and names it “The Fountain”. The most mundane, even off-putting, of objects is transformed by Duchamp into art. He submits
it for exhibition and it is rejected. You might say the judges “pissed on” his idea. But the idea was born and persisted.
Duchamp insisted the object was art because he as an artist presented it as such. “Conceptual Art” was born.
Artists following Duchamp sought to really get at what art is all about by diminishing the compositional and aesthetic
element of an artwork and concentrating on what “art says about it itself” – the commentary a piece of art makes on artist
and viewer, on the very nature of art, on why we make art and look at it and what the experience means.
Michelangelo spent six years painting the Sistine Chapel ceiling and another six adding “The Final Judgment”. He especially
resented the ceiling job, considering it the Pope’s “vanity” project. Now his genius is recognized, but at the time he felt like he was doing slave labor, rather than making his own statement in art.
Conceptualists take the “idea” in art and posit that artistic skill is not the point.
“The Concept” is the whole message, the whole point of the message, the expression, the human exchange.
Yoko Ono "published" as art her notes on how to go about having an aesthetic experience with art.
Alfred Hitchcock meticulously crafted screenplays and fully “storyboarded” (made scene by scene drawings exactly as the camera would
frame each scene) before rolling film on his movies. He complained that the real moviemaking, the real artistry, came in the creation of
the storyboards. After that, he felt, his movie was “done.” He found the actual filming redundant and boring.
Check out Rauschenberg’s 300 early paintings before “his” “Erased De Kooniong Drawing”.
Check out Miro’s early representational work from before the sculptures and mobiles.
Check out Julian Schnabel’s early paintings from before he started gluing broken plates to walls.
There’s quite a body of evidence that “conceptual art” isn’t a con. Real artists go where their muse takes them – even if it’s to “the thought” that births the art becoming the art itself.
Worrying about artists’ motives brings up the question of “artist’s intention”.Conception and intention are different. A traditional
artist “intends” to achieve expressing something for him/herself and/or to an audience through an artwork. The artist’s intent may be to
capture and invoke sadness, apathy, ecstasy, whimsy, etc. When DuChamp did his Urinal he was only talking about the meaning of art itself, he was not trying to convey any other idea.
At the end of it all, can we ever really know an artist’s intention or fully understand his/her big concept? We often think we can and do.
Like we think we know the heart of our beloved. That little leap of faith is what art – and life – is all about. And all the affirmations and
disillusionments that follow in the wake of each momentous jump into the unknown we kind of think we know is a part of that Big Concept.
Questions for the Reader: