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Old 09-24-2013, 02:27 AM   #1
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Meet the Artist :: David Lesperance



David Lesperance is an Environment Artist working in games, CG and Arch Viz for the last eight years. His career at BLIZZARD, 343 INDUSTRIES and VALVE so far makes him an incredibly exciting choice for this week's Meet the Artist thread on CGSociety.

"I have a massive passion for Environments and learning as much as I can. I grew up in the Midwest in Michigan, and I went to school in Chicago which is where I got my start early on. After about three years of college and working for various companies in the area I was recruited by the cinematics team at Blizzard. There I was lucky enough to work with some incredible people including Seth Thompson, Vitaly Bulgarov, and about 180 other equally talented people who where kind enough to school the crap out of me in the ways of CG," says Lesperance.

"After about three and half years at Blizzard, I left to go take a stab at the Halo franchise up in Washington. After Halo wrapped, I was lucky enough to interview at Valve, after surviving the interview they offered me a spot on the team. Currently I am working with a group of rocket scientist on several really cool things. I've also been teaching which has been a blast as well. On the personal art side of things, I am going to be starting to try to evolve the story telling in my images by trying to add some more humanistic elements into them. One of the best environment guys around, Toni Bratincevic, has been giving me some truly great feedback. So in a nut shell I'm totally in love with environment art. Oh and I'm a huge heavy metal head."

Swing David some questions. He wont bite.
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Last edited by PaulHellard : 09-25-2013 at 01:37 AM.
 
Old 09-24-2013, 01:07 PM   #2
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Hi Dave,
while working for various companies as u mentioned. Each of them must have it's own system and working flow . which you found to be the most appropriate for you to have a personal life beside your work?
or in other way, tell us about those big boys and how they manage the working hours for their employees.


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Old 09-24-2013, 07:53 PM   #3
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Hi Dave,

I am currently in school for game art and I was wondering if you had some advice for someone that is looking to get into this industry. Is there things I should focus on more than others?
 
Old 09-25-2013, 06:00 AM   #4
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Hi David,

Love the work you do. I'm actually in the process of modeling out a Hawken robot for CGFeedback and (as with most sci-fi hard surface models) I've come across a bit of a dilemma.

How do you control how much detail your placing in the model? Do you strictly base it on the camera? Do you model out something until you feel it has enough detail to feel believable? Or do you compare it to other things in your scene? (some might have high detail but some area's might be just simple smooth surfaces) I feel like the more detail I place in the more composition opportunities I could potentially have. But I can also tell when there's a deadline you can't model out every screw.

Thank's for taking the time to answer a few questions.

Craig
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Old 09-25-2013, 05:46 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ecleposs
Hi Dave,
while working for various companies as u mentioned. Each of them must have it's own system and working flow . which you found to be the most appropriate for you to have a personal life beside your work?
or in other way, tell us about those big boys and how they manage the working hours for their employees.




Most of the time that really depends on the culture of the studio. Each studio I've worked at has its pros and cons. For me a work life balance is vital. There are far too many studios that don't allow you to live a well rounded life. Because of that the industry and the employees suffer.
I don't really talk specifically about any one studio but I can say studios that I've worked at in the past that pay well, allow for a normal working week, and treat there teams well have the best retention rate, work environment, and are the most profitable. That correlation exists and I haven't really found an exception to that. Pipelines play a huge roll in that kind of healthy development environment. Each companies has its own way of working but those that are the best allow for each group of people (artist, programmers, management, ect) to interface and do their jobs well. The second the pipeline becomes the biggest issue you tend to spend more money, which moves up the deadlines, forces people to more with less. It then becomes unsustainable. I personally see for the future of both games and film the truly successful companies will be the ones that are sustainable. Sustainability is the thing that I am most interested in my career. Its not a race its a marathon. And often times when it becomes a race, the race tends to lead to the bottom.
Currently for a work life balance I think alot of that has to be handled by the people doing the work. There are times when you have to push a little bit, having said that pushing a little bit is not crunching for six months to a year unpaided. Most people don't realize how bad it actually gets and in the states its often can turn illegal. Because people tend to be scared or told its the way it is they accept it. I dont really believe that and I dont really understand how burning yourself out for one project is great for your career long term. I am very aware of huge bonuses that can happen at the end of some projects but rarely is that the norm nowadays and most of that money doesn't go to the team, especially if you look at an equivalent pay for overtime worked. I find that the artists and teams that force themselves to work 40 hours a week tend to make better choices and make more impact overall on the projects. It makes senses that you can make better choices if your not fighting exhaustion.
Sorry but I dont want to go into to much specifics on company pipelines. I will be back in a few to answer the rest of the questions

Dave \m/
 
Old 09-26-2013, 09:29 AM   #6
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Thanks. it's more than enough for me
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Old 09-26-2013, 10:23 AM   #7
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Time for it all?

Hi David,

I'm an environment and FX artist in the games industry. I used to work in product, design, and arch viz. I like to glance over other industry artists' work, as I think it's important to be familiar with what others are achieving in the industry, which is how I'm familiar with some of your work.

That being said, I tend to burn out at work, usually because of tight deadlines, lack of staff, having to wear multiple hats, etc.- I'm sure you know what I mean. So this leads me to my only question for you, how in the world do you find time to create personal art works?
I mean, with your fulltime job, your personal life, and now you're even doing workshops with Ryan Kingslein, how in the world do you find the time to pump out personal art and at the fast rate at which you do it? It seems like every couple of weeks or so you are posting some new personal artwork on CG Society, or is it just me? How are you finding the time for it all?

That's my only question lol- but it's actually a serious one.
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Old 09-27-2013, 12:42 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xemnaskh
Hi Dave,

I am currently in school for game art and I was wondering if you had some advice for someone that is looking to get into this industry. Is there things I should focus on more than others?

For me honestly it was finding others that are way better then me and trying to do what they do. Its honestly the coolest thing ever. I'm always learning because of the talent of others. Hopefully that helps. Also a huge thing is to never ever give up, art is about learning and we are always learning and hopefully we always will be
 
Old 09-27-2013, 07:33 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mrguy
Hi David,

Love the work you do. I'm actually in the process of modeling out a Hawken robot for CGFeedback and (as with most sci-fi hard surface models) I've come across a bit of a dilemma.

How do you control how much detail your placing in the model? Do you strictly base it on the camera? Do you model out something until you feel it has enough detail to feel believable? Or do you compare it to other things in your scene? (some might have high detail but some area's might be just simple smooth surfaces) I feel like the more detail I place in the more composition opportunities I could potentially have. But I can also tell when there's a deadline you can't model out every screw.

Thank's for taking the time to answer a few questions.

Craig


Honestly thats something I totally struggle with. I try to give areas of rest for the eye. And I hear ya on the deadlines. Trying to think of things functionally helps as well. I also try to look at the shot rather then an asset. Its easy to get lost in one thing but viewing it as a scene helps. I really struggle with that. I had a epic Art Director that told me one time that is Rythem not Repetition. That helps me alot when I struggle with the detail thing.
 
Old 09-27-2013, 07:38 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JakCarver
Hi David,

I'm an environment and FX artist in the games industry. I used to work in product, design, and arch viz. I like to glance over other industry artists' work, as I think it's important to be familiar with what others are achieving in the industry, which is how I'm familiar with some of your work.

That being said, I tend to burn out at work, usually because of tight deadlines, lack of staff, having to wear multiple hats, etc.- I'm sure you know what I mean. So this leads me to my only question for you, how in the world do you find time to create personal art works?
I mean, with your fulltime job, your personal life, and now you're even doing workshops with Ryan Kingslein, how in the world do you find the time to pump out personal art and at the fast rate at which you do it? It seems like every couple of weeks or so you are posting some new personal artwork on CG Society, or is it just me? How are you finding the time for it all?

That's my only question lol- but it's actually a serious one.


Well honestly its killing me lol. I love what I do and there is so much I want to learn. In fact thats all my personal work is, is me trying to learn so I can keep paying the mortgage. I really am hoping to slow down in a few years, i have a feeling my body is going to make me. Another thing I try to do is really really try to work an 8 hour day for my full time job, Sleep for about 6 hours and try to do 2-3 hrs of personal work at night the rest is for the family. My girlfriend helps out a ton and is super supportive as well. I'm also crazy paroniod about not learning enough to be effective at my job so that helps too lol.
 
Old 09-27-2013, 08:06 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by metalman123456123
Well honestly its killing me lol. I love what I do and there is so much I want to learn. In fact thats all my personal work is, is me trying to learn so I can keep paying the mortgage. I really am hoping to slow down in a few years, i have a feeling my body is going to make me. Another thing I try to do is really really try to work an 8 hour day for my full time job, Sleep for about 6 hours and try to do 2-3 hrs of personal work at night the rest is for the family. My girlfriend helps out a ton and is super supportive as well. I'm also crazy paroniod about not learning enough to be effective at my job so that helps too lol.


Ok, this makes sense and puts me at ease lol- That pretty much describes me, minus the mortgage. I'm also constantly working on improving my work by analyzing work from other top artists in the industry; you never stop learning and growing in this industry, which is rewarding in many ways, but very nerve racking in others.

I recently decided to make the jump from environment art to games FX. There is less competition and it is harder for studios to find those people who have artistic skill and the highlevel technical knowledge to create good and optimized particle systems for game engines, shaders, etc. There are just too many env artists, it's totally over saturated right now, especially in the LA area.

Thanks for sharing that info about your work/life schedule, good to know I'm not the only one constantly trying to balance career and personal life. Keep up the awesome work.
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Old 09-27-2013, 03:45 PM   #12
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Hey all just wanted to point something out, I got the dates wrong on my time at Blizzard, i was there from May 09' to December 11' So that's 2 years and 9 months, sorry about that confusion Thats what happens when I actually read my linked in lol
 
Old 09-27-2013, 04:44 PM   #13
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Hi David,

Iím an environment artist as well and Iím a big fan of your work. I find that one of the most challenging things in this industry isnít just making great art, but doing it within a narrow timeframe. Have you ever run into a situation where your concept art or art direction is very vague? How did you handle that and how much cushion do you give yourself in regards to estimating your time in a situation like that? Also, have you ever run into a situation when you know you need more time to hit your standards or the clientís standard? How do you handle situations where the client says they canít give you more time? I would think with the big studios youíve worked for that have deep pockets that time isnít as much of an issue, but in other places, Iíve seen and experienced some pretty unrealistic time estimates on tasks as well as some substandard art direction.

Thanks,
Jason
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Old 09-27-2013, 05:18 PM   #14
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Hi David,

Congrats for your amazing work Iīm a big fan.


I would like to ask you how much does reference/research plays a important role on the environments you create, in the sense that you stay legit to the style your referencing or you mix up multiple references in to one building. Do you think an architectural background could help some how in environment art? How important is drawing/sketching your ideas/projects before you jump into 3d, do you have time for that or concept art delivers the ideas and you give them life? The goal is this question is to understand how much personal input can you give when you are developing environment in a studio, from start to finish?


Thank's,
Pedro

Last edited by pedrojomaia : 10-02-2013 at 09:19 AM.
 
Old 09-27-2013, 06:04 PM   #15
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Hi David,

I'm a fan of your work and I feel I should use this oportunity to ask you technical stuff, but instead I'm gonna ask you a personal question.
I'm from Argentina and about to graduate from college. I hope to gather some work experience and in a not too distant future move to a country where I have a better chance of working in what I love. Here what's most common is that you'll live all your life wherever you're born, many times even in the same neighborhood. But I see that all the people who work in the videogames industry (or maybe it's something common for everybody in the States?) moves every now and then. I wanted to ask you how do you and your family adapt to this? Is there any place where you feel truly at home?

Thanks for answering all these questions,
Sofia
 
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