Meet the Artist: Nicolas Bouvier (AKA Sparth)

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  06 June 2005
greynite1: I got a question from a Budding Concept artist here. what do you recommend for Practice just basically take and develop whatever comes to your head as your skills allow? How do you recommend concept artists develop there skills to prepare them for Showing there products for potential jobs.

- if you want to practice without anything commercially related in mind, do whatever you like. choose any subjects that come to your mind. this way you will be able to slowly train your own personality.
- if you need to work on a job related demand, do your best in order to stick to what the client needs. there are many exemples here and there in the concept art world that will provide you with a good approach on where to begin and how to smartly succeed. never forget about diplomacy with a client, it is sometimes as important as the art itself.

- doing both exercices will always help you and give you a proper balance between your creative mind and professional contracts.
sparth construct
  06 June 2005
joebount: Hello my friend !
One thing I'd like to know : What are you dreaming of ? (real dreams, not wishes)

-hi mate. what am i dreaming of?
well, despite my efforts, i cannot remember my last dream really.
however, i have always been amazed by dreams in which you try convincing people all around you that you're not in a dream, and that all the events they're actually living are real.
it happens often, and it's frustrating, but incredibly fun!

and ...... congrats for the future wedding !
sparth construct
  06 June 2005
lunes:-I know and fully understand that videogame and animation companies first look for local talent for employment before considering foreigners, but Im wondering, Do you have any idea hows the situation for foreign talent in Canada? US? Is it that hard to get in the industry?

- first of all, this is a very nice text, and i am happy to receive your comments.
as you may guess, i will not be able to reply with something long, but i'll do my best.
i really feel your passion, being the way you are is courageous, even more in a country not suited for such jobs or profiles. still, never be discouraged by this fact, as things change, very fast most of the time. and i am convinced your portfolio will allow you to find what you are searching for, one day or another.
- i couldn't really reply precisely to this question. i am in a very particular case, being under contract in canada, but not a resident. the only thing i know is that you've got show extreme talent in order to enter in north america as a concept artist, and later on .... succeed.
it is a tuff world, but afterall, is there really a country where it isn't?
there is quite an amount of companies in canada that could need guys. check out bioware in edmonton, or even people from the west coast. the only condition is to be good, ... simple.

lunes: -Could a solid and professional portfolio knock down this sort of been-foreign barrier easier and get me a spot in the group of candidates to consider for the job Im applying for, or as I think, is could be still harder because of my situation?

- i am absolutely convinced that the best portfolios can allow their respective artists to be hired by any company on the planet. companies will never have hesitations in bringing top guys. it's a sure fact.

lunes: -Do you have any quotes, inspirational thoughts, or words of courage to share with the people living the same or similar situation like mine, where its a bit harder to take the first step, where theres a fight to never give up even though when whats around you or the place where you live makes everything more difficult for you?

- i don't think i'd find the right quote for this situation, except for yoda's mythic words: "Do, or do not. There is no try."
what i am convinced of is that being a passionate artist will help you realize your dreams. it's already a fantastic chance that few artists can really enjoy.
sparth construct
  06 June 2005
addiso: 1. - Your armour and vehicle designs seem to draw a lot on natural froms, crabs and other insect like. Do you get alot of inspiration from nature ?

- i don't think i am intentionally trying to grab my inspiration from nature. but i suppose that once again, that process is probably unconscious.
it is a fact that i feel obsessed by shells and carapace that i retranslate in many ways.

addiso: 2. - Do you work in traditional media besides digital ? If so whats your favourite tool ? (chalk, pastel, oil,...

- i haven't the time to do anything traditional, but when i do, i mainly use a pencil. i sometimes use aquarels though.

addiso: 3. - Do you use small thumbnails to get composition and tones right, or do you just jump in and overpaint if something is not in the right place ?

- i indeed use thunbnails first, exactly for the reasons you explained. i tend to work on small formats first, around 600 or 800 pixels. i then resize the canvas when satisfied with the sketch.
however, if i feel there is something wrong with the composition, and this even if i have already added a lot of details, i will have no hesitations moving entire areas of the image in order to improve it. idealistically, the best approach would be to get everything right in the first ten minutes, but it just doesn't always happen that way unfortunately.
the size of my final pieces will often be around 2500 pixels.

addiso: 4. - I read an interview with you, on another CG site, where you talk about balancing work and family life. Could you give any advice for freelance artist, what to look out for, if they want to remain freelance, but still have a family ?

- there are many way to maintain a good balance between both.
first of all, we artists always have difficulties escaping from our inner worlds. for my personal case, my brain is always producing new concepts, dreaming and escaping from reality.
i did make a lot of efforts in order to divide both worls more distinctively. i force myself not to think about art related stuff when i have a few moments with my family and kids. i ask my brain to remain on earth, and REALLY be there, and not elsewhere.
the other way is to strictly respect your schedule. peeps having kids are always forced to do this anyway, as having kids take so much time, it's crazy!
however, there is no way to escape from one fact: no matter the job you have, the birth of a baby will always put your inner world upside down for a while.

thanx addiso
sparth construct
  06 June 2005
vincent walhem: Hi!, Im a fan of prince of persia 2, mainly because the scenarios and the dark mood of the game.
As a concept designer of the game, I assume that those mood its a creation of yours, but have you asked about those specific look? Why in your opinion is so radical the difference of the ambients between POP1 and POP2?

- the players always expect to see the prince of persia universe evolve. we would have been criticized if we had not done so.
- as for the look of the game, the fact of going into something more dark and gothic was something decided by several people. i have been one of the concept artists working on this project, but there's also michael labat (our artistic director), patrick lambert, and bruno gentile, just to name a few, that have been doing extraordinary materials for the designs.
- it was a way to prepare the prince for the future transformations he'll live, surrounded by a more realistic universe.
sparth construct
  06 June 2005
Smile thank you Sparth!

I just wanted to say thanks so much for your time and words. Priceless.
I had to translate all that (from english to spanish) to my mom, so then I could explain my joy, haha, but it was worthy.
Please, keep your creative world alive and lots of success in the projects to come.

  06 June 2005
Hello Sparth. I'm like your biggest fan!!

I would like to ask you, how old were you when you've started to do art, and when have you reached the profesional level?

  06 June 2005
okay sparth here's a question. it may have been asked.

1. Are you the concept artist in the team that is developing pop III?
  06 June 2005
thanks for answering the questions,

i got another one. Will it soemday be possible to order prints of your works?
I'd love to have a big print of one of your works on my wall.
  06 June 2005
Hi Sparth! First thanks for taking the time to do this. I know it takes a good chunk of time to do.

I have a couple questions.

1. How important do you think traditional skills are for getting into the gaming industry.

2. What would you say are the best Gaming educational programs in Ontario? I know there are several in Toronto. Do you know of them? Also if you know of a good one elsewhere in Canada i'd be happy to hear that to.

3. Any ideas how to go about getting an internship? Seems nobody does them anymore. Seems the free work isn't a big pull anymore.

Thanks a lot!
  06 June 2005
Thank you for the detailed reply :) !

I'm really glad to have read your reply, it means a lot to me !

Looking forward to your new pieces ! Keep 'em coming !
  06 June 2005
dimmur: How do you make such a good contrast? I alwas sucked at making contrast in digital paintings. All my colors are unsaturated and pale. I must adjust the contrast and color balance in photoshop to get it wright, but it's unpleasant.

- try starting from a white canvas and slowly add darker areas to your composition. it may work better for your own case than starting from a painted background.
however, even though it's a fact that getting the right tones without the help of any adjustments is better than messing around afterwards. but there is not rule really. only the result counts.

dimmur: I have that art tutorial of yours, in pdf format, but that only explains illumination & color stuff, wich I mainly knew about. What I was searching for was your brushing technique. Could you share that with us mortals? If it's your professional secret, forget that you read this.

- i really don't have a lot to hide. i might do dvds in times to come. i need time, but there will probably be a way to put time into this.

dimmur: You once made this tutorial, but I can't see any images besides the final image. Do you happen to have the illustrations for the other steps?

- this tutorial has been published in two books. for this same reason, you will understand that i cannot leave the entire tuts on the web, it would not be fair towards the publisher which deserves the priority concerning this work and explanation.
sparth construct
  06 June 2005
igor: - I've read Ubisoft is about to be sold to another company (at least part of it) or a partnership. (The name of Electronic Arts has been heard.) Maybe you're not the best person to answer that, but do you think it will have an impact on the choices (design, style of games, etc)Ubisoft makes? I love Ubisoft because of the originality of their games and the great designs. They take risks, the dare to try things and I like them for that. Do you think it will change?

- first of all, hi igor! i am extremely honored by what you said here. and of course i perfectly remember you and your posts on cafesale.
- even though i am indeed not really in the position of giving you definite answers, i do think ubisoft will keep its originality on the short term. i can't really imagine what could happen in a longer future though, but i will of course be extremely disappointed if ubisoft looses its actual soul as well as its dedication to doing amazing games.
for now there have been no negatives signs of bad directions or events that could alter our work, but mister guillemot himself has been very active in keeping everybody informed since december 2004.
sparth construct
  06 June 2005
Lord Dubu: When I looked over the section of your site devoted to discussing your process, it seems as if you can turn out a piece at breakneck speed. How long does it take you to do a "finished" piece on average?

- i probably need a minimum of three hours in order to consider an illustration achieved. however, it can change, mood and dedication can differ a lot from one piece to another.

Lord Dubu: Your compositions are breathtaking... but the process section of your site gives the impression that you just miraculously pull those amazing compositions from throwing color of varying darkness down onto your canvass. What is your process for coming up with those amazing compositions.

- i benefit from the things i've learned in the past. many elements like perspective or composition come naturally now, with just a minimum of concentration. a bit like when you learn alphabet before being able to make sentences.... all the artists will feel this pleasure after a few years of hardwork.

Lord Dubu: What I love most about your art is the impressionism feel to it. It amazes me how much information your pieces communicate despite the broad and often vague brush strokes. Try as hard as I can, I have been unable to create such wonderful implied detail. Can you give a young (well digitally young anyway) painter some tips on how you accomplish this?
- never show all the details at once, leave a door opened to imagination, it will stimulate the viewer who will built the rest of the image to his own taste. the way to do this would take ages to explain. if it is ever explainable.

Do you really just throw down color and shade and effortlessly throw down patches of color without first sketching out your composition.

- no, there is always a minimum of composition before throwing out any colors at all. if you throw everything in your image at the same time, you might end up looking at a marvelous but useless BLOB.
sparth construct
  06 June 2005
arctis: Thanks Sparth,
The "theorical syndrome" was still present in ENSAD in 2002, be confident about it !
i agree with you about the need of looking beyond our native country's frontier. I'm not sure about it, but I have sometimes the feeling that in France, gifted people that don't work (but talk a lot) are better considered that guys who are doing the job on time, (and let their work speak for themselves). At the contrary, I have the impression (on english-speaking web forums) that american artists are proud to have worked hard to become what they are : They prize a lot hard work, while in EnSAD (in France ?), for ex, hard work is depised because it means you are laborious.(for them, laborious=heavy mind=non intellectual=crap for masses)
Do you have similar feeling ?

- don't worry too much about this detail. it is mainly a student thing.
in the industry, there is no way to lie on what you can do and not do.
the philosophy is not the same, but you do know which one i prefer and respect the most
intellectual concepts have to be put to the service of the image. not the other way around

thanx again arctis
sparth construct
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