Telling Great Stories through Art
How did you first get into art, and what encouraged you to chase art as a career?
Kipling-Bassil: I’ve been an artist since birth, but I was always afraid of a potentially unstable career as an artist until I discovered the world of digital artists after graduating from high school. I immediately began using my traditional art skills and enrolling in classes at the Concept Design Academy in Pasadena to launch my career as a digital artist.
Could you share any milestones from your life that marked your journey from budding artist to professional concept artist?
Kipling-Bassil: When I was 19, I moved to Pasadena, California to attend CDA. It was a big step for me because I’d never lived on my own before, but I quickly immersed myself in the world where I wanted to work and made many connections through school and the internet.
Going to the first Lightbox expo was also a significant milestone for me because it gave me the opportunity to meet some of my heroes in person, such as Greg Manchess, Crash McCreary, Mike Mignola, and finally, a portfolio review from Iain Mccaig, who truly blew my mind!
Stylistically, your portfolio has an amazing range from whimsical to more photoreal. What guides the look of a specific piece for you? Is it who/what you are designing for, or more of what you are inspired by at the moment?
Kipling-Bassil: My goal for my work stems from a passion for creating living beings with stories, emotions, and personalities in my art that I have had since I was a child. Style varies depending on the project or inspiration, but in truth, I could design a photorealistic character with a blob of slime as a sidekick, and the level of depth I’d want to incorporate into who they are would be the same.
Are you able to make time for personal pieces? If so, what is your reasoning for doing so, and how do your personal projects differ from your professional ones in both style and approach?
Kipling-Bassil: Always. I always make time for personal projects because I believe it is essential in this world of long hours and grind culture. That is why I believe my personal work does not differ significantly from my professional work in terms of workflow or content, as I truly enjoy what I do and want to ensure that people hire me for what I enjoy doing.
How do you feel your background living in LA has affected your creativity, artistic expression, or just your path in general?
Kipling-Bassil: Living in Los Angeles has allowed me to meet people from all over the world who share a common determination and desire to succeed. It did feel like a bubble at times, but there was always something or someone new to discover at the same time.
When entering the concept art space, many artists say to specialize others say to generalize between characters/props/etc. Which do you think is the best move for someone just starting and why?
Kipling-Bassil: I would advise someone just starting to be as free with their artwork as the wind. Look within to discover what you truly enjoy making, and then do it. Because there’s no point in forcing yourself into a career as an artist that could last for years if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing. Generalizing can be useful and important for jobs and work, but I believe that is a skill that should be developed after discovering your true artistic voice.
How important is drawing from life vs drawing from imagination for this type of work?
Kipling-Bassil: When designing with imagination and reference, it is critical to strike a balance between the two worlds. There is a danger in relying too heavily on the physical, just as there is a danger in relying too heavily on the spiritual. However, both are necessary tools in design.
Concept art seems to be moving towards 3D nowadays. Is it important for an artist to learn both 2D & 3D? Or is it still possible to land a job specializing in just one area?
Kipling-Bassil: There are many different aspects of concept art, with some still primarily using 2D, but it’s about NOT attempting to work on AAA games, and instead focusing on smaller companies and projects that use style and graphical approaches other than photorealistic. To be honest, I believe that companies that think outside the box are far more enjoyable to work with.
What has been your favorite project and why?
Kipling-Bassil: For almost a year, I’ve been working on a fantasy-tabletop-styled indie game project that has been nothing but a joy to work on. Although it pays less than most of the jobs I take, the content and freedom my art director give me as a creator make it far more valuable as a project than anything else I’ve ever worked on.
Do you think someone can learn concept art later in life? Or is it something you need to have practiced since an early age?
Kipling-Bassil: I believe that anyone, regardless of age, can design anything at any time, but it is how much of yourself, imagination, and believability you put into something that truly matters.