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We’ve the pleasure to Interview Mark Molnar, who’s currently creating his art book, Behind The Pixels,  and he’s working as  senior concept artist at Ninja Theory on Hellblade

IT’S ART : Can you give us a brief overview of your carrier path?

Mark Molnar – I was born and raised in a smaller town in the Northern-East part of Hungary. I was always drawing as far as I can remember and was lucky enough to get into a fine art class in high school, thanks to the support and push of my parents. After that I went to the Hungarian University of Art and Design (MOME) to learn Visual Communication, where I graduated with a Masters degree focus on illustration and graphic design.

As I am not from a really wealthy family I already had to work during my uni years to support myself, thats when started doing various freelance works. First I was doing mainly graphic design jobs, but I soon realized that I like to just draw and paint more, so I started to go more towards that direction. When I graduated I already had a small client base as a freelance illustrator / concept artist and I slowly started to build my career from there. Since then I worked for numerous companies, lived on 3 continents and met and worked together with loads of awesome likeminded people. It wasn’t an easy ride with lots of failures, but I still feel myself really fortunate that I can do professionally what I love.

IT’S ART : Can you speak about your role at Ninja Theory and how you’ve started to work on Hellblade ?

Mark Molnar : I work at Ninja Theory as a Senior Concept artist, my job is to help my art director and different stages of the production with visual ideas and guides. Originally I was hired for a different project which unfortunately didn’t go into production and then I joined the Hellblade team at the very early stages of development.

In the first months my main task was to experiment with the general theme and back story of the game and to come up with as many creative ideas as I can. We created hundreds of concept arts about moods, environments and characters / creatures of the game, what are still the base of our visual inspiration for the project.

It’S ART : How have you worked to create the universe using inspiration and exchanging ideas with the team ?

Mark Molnar : As every project, Hellblade also started with a massive research. We collected references and inspiration about all aspects of the game starting from historical viking heritage through pagan and celtic roots to the more spiritual side of the story.

Beside our company archive we are using private Pinterest boards to collect and organize our reference and inspiration libraries, as this way any team member can access everything online easily. We are also doing daily and weekly meetings with the team to follow the progress of each sections of the game and to help collaboration.

IT’S ART : You were also working as a freelancer for lots of different clients. What are in your opinion the differences between the work as freelancer and in a studio ?

Mark Molnar : Both have its positive and negative sides. I think the biggest difference is the way of interaction with the client. I really like to work in a team, collaborate with others to solve a certain tasks and get instant feedback on the artworks. On the other hand it was great to work on various projects in the same time as a freelancer, it helped to keep my mind fresh. All-in-all the actual work is very similar, but being a freelancer could be really isolated sometimes.

IT’S ART  : Do you think you’ve a different way to define your workflow or style when working on a long term project as Hellblade ?

Mark Molnar : A long term project is always a team work and there is always much more time / room to experiment with various things to find the best visual solution. In case of a short term project, like a movie pitch or a set of marketing illustrations, the work is much more focused and usually the direction is more defined.

IT’S ART : What was the hardest part in this job ? why ?

Mark Molnar : The hardest part for me to get used to the crazy long Non Disclosure Agreements of some projects. As an artist I would love to show / share what I am doing, but usually this could only happen after 2-3 years of the actual work. I really like the new approach of open development what we were started with Hellblade, because I can also share my process and artworks much earlier than before.

IT’S ART :  What do you think you’ve learn from this project ?

Mark Molnar : I always loved the unique visual style of the games of Ninja Theory, because they never really followed any mainstream trends. I already learned a lot about the company’s approach from other teammates working in the studio and I hope I can continue to do so. As we are just a small team working on Hellblade, we naturally have to help out each other on various areas, so I can also learn a lot about teamwork during the development.

IT’S ART :  What would be your advice to a young artist that would like to work for the game industry ?

Mark Molnar : No matter what area are you interested in, but learn the basics first. Most of the young artist are relying to softwares too much and trying to skip learning the fundamentals of art, like perspective, color theory, anatomy or composition. Photoshop or the 3d packages are just tools, but without a solid knowledge in art they are worthless.

IT’S ART :  What’s your own definition of art ?

Mark Molnar : Oh thats really hard… If you think about concept art, from my point of view most of the concept ‘art’ is not really art, but more concept ‘design’. I am not saying concept artists are not artists, but they are more designers and creative problem solvers than artists in the classical terms. As for art itself – I think anything is art what can inspire me and evoke new feeling or thoughts.

 

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