At the age of 16, they told that you shouldn’t draw cause you have no talent. At the age of 19, you were rejected by Architecture/design, due to them saying you have no talent. Today, based on your career, we can say they were wrong. What’s your attitude on this? Are you grateful for having refused?
To have exact info, about what happened – I will need to take you back 15 years in the past. Universities in Belgrade ( Europe also) still think that you only need to draw to be good in Arts, they still don’t realize that problem-solving capacities are the biggest tool in art. So, to be honest, I didn’t know how to draw, I draw stickmen. But people always said I have a brilliant mind.
What universities are now realizing is that drawing is 10% of the design process, there are many things happening besides drawing as we design anything, and guess what?
It can be learned.
I am very grateful for all the events in my life, no matter how painful they were. It just sparked a fire in me to prove them all wrong.
In your portfolio, we can see weapons, characters, vehicles… Do you have the favorite type and why?
I am a hard surface designer, vehicles and functional design do stay my favorite thing to work on. As a person I am attracted to things that are hard to do, I don’t like easy wins.
Now I enjoy designing functional 3d designs, that have multiple moveable joints ( ie mech walkers, or props) and have some kind of new function that people have never imagined.
What’s your favorite project you worked on and why?
I really liked working on all client projects so far, I really love anything creative.
But Inside 44 book, is still my favorite thing I ever worked on, and it’s MINE (laugh).
What is your choice of software?
For a long time I used Autodesk Maya, then I added Zbrush and Fusion 360 in the mix.
But Since last year I completely switched to Blender. It is 0$, and I am working on one big project now using only Blender because I have all the tools in it.
Blender + Zbrush are my no1, Photoshop of course but that goes without saying.
What kind of knowledge and qualities should the concept artist have to be successful?
Curiosity is the main ingredient for successful concept artist, and respecting other people opinion – not feeling attacked when someone critics your work. When those two get together, you are on your way to become really good at what you do.
Can you tell us more about your personal project Inside 44? Why is number 44 important to you?
Inside 44 book started a long time ago in my head, probably around age 13, when I got diabetes.
I guess I was injured and needed something to keep me alive and positive about life because I was different than other people, diabetes can be horrible at any age, but especially when you are young. I needed a hero that I couldn’t have, so I made imaginary one in my head – and started developing stories.
In 2015, when my career crashed due to political reasons, and I was left alone to die I started working on Inside 44.
There were no friends, girls, money – and health was really bad from everything I pushed myself trough. People decided to leave me, cause water all of a sudden got very cold.
Very grateful to them for that moment.
That noise I had in my head from all “advices” I was getting was gone.
I was alone, scared and I had to tell myself that I always wanted to do Inside 44 book.
During those 3 years, while I was recovering from tragic in my life, 44 number always appeared when I was questioning myself where should I go. I would see it on car plates, busses, bills, etc.
So I said to myself, I will call this book “Inside 44” – cause Inside that 44 number were all answers I needed.
Recovery was slow and painful, but I recovered completely – most of the stuff I was doing I had my hands tied, guess what I did when they were free? I became not good but great at what I did. Cause all of sudden I had a real pen and not rock for drawing.
Book has now 325 A4 colored pages, and 70% of it is designed in full 3D. Whole universe with maps, races, vehicles, characters, story, props, etc.
To be honest I can’t wait to finish it cause a lot of elements are taken from my real life.
Along with everything you do full time, you’re also a lecturer. What would you recommend to those who are yet to enter the industry?
Being different is hard, but rewarding. Don’t ever be afraid to do different stuff than society tells you to do. Be yourself, its the only way.
Do what you love, it will always end well.
This year at the GameUp conference you held your first lecture in Belgrade. People were blown away by your lecture, cause it turned out to be motivational. Is it surprising that you have held your first domestic lecture since you are from Belgrade? Did you have more nervous in front of a home crowd, or when you lectured abroad?
When I get on stage, I get energy movement in my body that makes me feel like a superhero. There was no nervousness for me, as a matter of fact, I feel best on the stage.
I wanted to do a motivational speech for a home crowd, cause here they always tell “You can’t” – so I wanted to tell people “You can”.
People reactions were great after the lecture.
I am sad a lot that Belgrade doesn’t invite me at all to be a lecturer. I am Belgradian and would love to speak more in the city where I was born in – but that is not happening.
Maybe it will change in the future, I certainly hope it will.
How much is social media presence important for a freelance artist and what would be your rules/guides of internet existence?
For anyone who is not positioned good on a world map ( i.e Serbia) it is insanely important.
Rules are, to be “cool” on social media you need to know who you are. Until you don`t know that nobody will hear you. I see people trying to be someone else, cause it feels like “they did it well” – and they fail.
Ask yourself who you are – and start presenting yourself 24/7. It is demanding, but payback is great.
Releasing a concept art book must be a substantially long process? How did you manage your time between your daily activities as a freelancer and work on your book?
Easy – I love what I do, and organize every hour of my day. People who know me, say that I look very young and fresh for how much I work ( 3 years without vacation day and working 14-15 hours a day). It is cause I do it with my soul, and how can anyone get tired from doing what they love?
Every day is organized whole, and I told myself – and I have removed myself from social circles that I used to be in – until I finish the book.
What are your main go-to websites and social media accounts?
Firestarter is getting bigger and bigger, I love it – Spiridon is a great man (not because he has a beard but because of what he does).
I always look at Artstation and Instagram. They are the main thing that I need.
I know it’s difficult to select one but can you select your favorite artist and make a short summary of why you love his/her work?
Oh man, so many talents out there. But I love Fausto di Martini work, cause I remember seeing his work and asking myself “How do I get there” – those designs are sick. Functional, and cool looking – with his persona in them.
Daniel Simon – of course – brilliant design style and courage to leave car design at the peak of his career. I mean when you look at his designs it is what design should be “Form follows function”
Paul Chadeisson work is mesmerizing, all that huge spaceships/environments spin me in different feelings.
And many more.
You are frequently visiting CG and concept art conferences around the world. What can one learn and benefit from one of these visits and why are they important for you?
Conferences are great since you are surrounded by people who do the same thing as you. My friends don`t do anything that is connected with my profession, so I need conferences for that – to breathe that air.
It can help you promote for sure, and that is great cause a lot of different connections are there.
Friends are a must, I am a social creature and can’t live without people and their energies.
We’ve spent some time together with you at the CGA conference last November. Can you share your experiences from the conference and what would you like to see this year at the CGA?
I really loved CGA. It was organized on a very professional level and to the detail. Manny interesting talks, and great food that I ate all (laughing). There was a lot happening, besides lectures – and people were bonding in many ways.
I think CGA has great potential to become a leader in the region when it comes to the festival.
I will only mention to readers so they know – that it was the only festival in the world that was completely FREE to enter. Think about those people.
It is always nice to see Balkan people gather in one place, we should do it more often.
There are rumors about you starting your own design podcast? If it’s not a top-secret project, can you tell us more about it?
Yeah it has started – http://www.youtube.com/itsadarmar
I will be bringing many talented professional artists from different fields to talk with me. And I will be posting a video of me working on some projects.
It should be fun. Rest I will keep for myself.