If you like architecture, beer and pretty girls, come to the Czech Republic! Just don’t come here for the concept art.
Jakub Javora is a Czech concept artist with a degree in fine arts. In spite of that, he always wanted to work in concept art, and after working as a matte painter for a couple of years, he built a portfolio and moved to Canada. This was Javora’s first opportunity to work on AAA titles at Volta, a renowned concept art studio that has delivered a number projects to companies like Capcom, Riot Games and Ubisoft. In the interview, he said that, “I felt humbled because the artists who are working there are so skilled.” He also said that, “I’ll try to come back to the fine art side of things, just to keep the balance.” So it’s clear that he wants to keep both of his skill-sets sharpened for the for the foreseeable future.
Now, when it comes to having a wide array of skills, Jakub is quite a standout. The experimental parallaxes he creates using Maya allow him to make 5-10 second GIFs, so the stellar presentation really makes his work pop. When we saw the “Knight Fight” artwork on ArtStation’s best of 2017 showcase, we knew exactly who we were going to interview next. We’re happy to see that his newer experiments are even better, and we’ve included a few of those in this post.
Jakub is also highly proficient with industry standard software like Maya and ZBrush, using it to create new workflows for himself each time. It’s interesting to note that his personal pieces are all fundamentally different when it comes to technique. So, in the end, experimentation seems to be the most surefire way to making great digital art. If you want to learn more about his process, you can read this interview’s 7th question, or you can visit his blog where he walks you through each and every step. In the meantime, we hope you learn something new by reading this exclusive interview!
Tell us about your journey so far.
I’ve always loved the entertainment industry. You know, films, games, VFX… but my formal education was focused on fine-art, so I would say that I am somewhat of a hybrid of these two worlds.
I was working as a matte painter in a VFX house, mostly for advertisements, but I always wanted to try concept art. This is why I made a portfolio and traveled to Canada to work on some AAA titles.
You studied at the Academy of Fine Arts. Do you think that formal training is still better than self-teaching?
From my experience, not really, but only if your goal is becoming a professional concept artist. School is basically a place where you go to meet new people, not to learn a special skill. The Internet is far more powerful when you’re looking for knowledge in this field of work. This can still change, though. After all, concept art is relatively young.
Canada is a beautiful country, and I’m sure that its vast landscapes inspire you. Do you go out looking for inspiration often?
Yes it is! It’s got beautiful nature, but the people are amazing as well! Perhaps I should travel more often. I love museums, so I am getting some inspiration there, like in nature. Honestly, I’m almost always surrounded by inspiration, so I don’t need to go out looking for it.
You were living in Prague before you moved to Canada, right? Recently, I’ve been seeing more and more artists from the Czech Republic, but I don’t know a great deal about the Czech art scene. What’s the atmosphere like over there?
Yes, and now I am back in Prague to develop something new here. Surprisingly, there aren’t many people here who are interested in concept art. I don’t know why, it’s still a mystery for me. I’ve loved all of this ever since I was a child, but I’ve only just met the same kinds of people a few years ago. That was one of the main reasons to move to Canada, a place where everybody dreams of having a game company! But hey, if you like architecture, beer and pretty girls, come to the Czech Republic! Just don’t come here for the concept art.
You’ve been working as a concept artist at Volta for a while now. What’s it like?
It was an amazing experience. I felt humbled because the artists who are working there are so skilled. There were many different nationalities and approaches all in the same place, but all of them were focused on making art and design. That was so inspirational. Of course, the projects were fun to work on, too! In overview, I would readily recommend that place to anyone.
Mariusz Kozik is a Polish Illustrator with 25 years’ worth of experience. He focuses on creating high-end marketing illustrations for some of the most acclaimed franchises in the strategy genre—Sid Meier’s Civilization and Total War—with as much historical accuracy as possible.
His isn’t a famous artist, but if you’re an active member of the PC gaming community, you would have seen his work on the Steam Store before. It’s unmissable.
Kozik is currently living in Lublin, where he works for Creative Assembly, SEGA. And so long as he continues to work there, you can expect to see more of his amazingly detailed promotional art with every (?) new Total War release!
Our exclusive interview with Mariusz Kozik is coming soon. Stay tuned if you’re a fan of historical settings!
What kind of projects are you wanting to do in the future?
Well, I’ve done a lot of “entertainment” stuff already, and I’ll continue to do so because that’s my job. But at the same time, I’ll try to come back to fine art side of things, just to keep the balance. I think that a combination of both would be best. Also, I would like to develop some tools and tutorials, there really is a lot of ideas in my head!
Walk us through the processes you used when creating your favorite portfolio artwork.
When I am doing something for myself, I always want to try and or develop some new technique. I want to try and use the tools I’ve never used before. A good of example of this would be the “Dancing Bones Cave” artwork. I tried photogrammetry, and used it to make model of a rock from a Canadian island. Next, I assembled a simple environment using this asset and (virtually) walked around it, kind of like a photographer, looking for a good composition. I guess I’ve been trying to utilize ‘happy accidents’ more and more in my work-flow.
Anyway, after a little bit of exploration, I found the cave and I knew that this is it. The rest is a bit boring—rendering, over-painting…
what language you speak. The team at Vox Groovy will make it so that everyone can hear your interview on the radio.
Our new programme Art Relax (EN) will be launching soon.
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What’s the best piece of advice for someone who wants to work for Volta?
The best way would be to build a solid portfolio and contact them directly. They’re really trying to do a whole spectrum of styles, so almost anything that’s good quality could work.
What’s next for Jakub Javora?
Working, learning and working again! In the meantime, I’ll probably be hoping to see if something amazing shows up!
By Vox Groovy staff writer;
All images used with permission by the artist.
© Jakub Javora or respective copyright holders.
Article in Slovak language;