You’re at one of those yearly family gatherings and the conversation turns to work.
“What do you do again, my dear?” they ask. A sea of curious faces turn to look at you. “Isn’t it something to do with computers?”
Beads of sweat begin to form on your forehead as you struggle, once again, to find the words to explain what a “Concept Artist” is to Grandma, who still doesn’t have access to Wi-Fi.
Don’t worry. We’ve all been there. That’s why we delved into the minds of our team to get their insight into that all-important question: how do you explain concept art to your Gran?
Mattia Rangoni - Concept Artist
“It is quite hard to get people (or a grandma) to understand what my job is, so I usually just say “Illustrator” for simplicity. But even this can lead to misunderstanding. In fact, once someone heard "illustrator" which, in Italian sounds like shoeshiner. So at this point, you can give up or find a more creative way to explain it!
In a more romantic way, you could say: “I'm an artist who brings to life the amazing characters you see in movies and games”.
In a more pragmatic way, you could say: “I draw ideas for characters or other elements that will be used later for illustrations, 3D models or animation etc.”
Joris Dewolf - Art Director
“We concept artists are like architects. Assuming everyone knows what an architect does! But instead of creating sketches and plans for a house, we create sketches for the characters and the environments which you see in a video game or movie. These sketches will be later passed on to 3D artists, who are like the builders.”
Alex Alexandrov - Lead Illustrator and Concept Artist
"Visualisation of ideas, in a nutshell. Turning descriptions into pictures.”
Rafael De Guzman - Illustrator and Concept Artist
“For me, concept art is a visual interpretation (the art) of an idea (the concept) that is used mostly for films, games and animation.”
Ewelina Bielska - Intern
“Think fashion design or product design. Before anything is produced, someone with a big imagination creates a variety of drawings such as sketches of clothes for the newest Prada collection or tables at IKEA. There is a lot of trial and error, and most of the ideas will never see the light of day. That’s what concept art mostly comes down to draw, discard, repeat, draw, repeat until the character, weapon or environment matches your and your client’s expectations.”
Lewis Cranfield - Project Manager
“I guess to put it simply, Concept Art is all the pretty drawings that are made to help present an idea for a game or movie, things like the location its set in or a character for it”
Maria Smirnova - Concept Artist
“What would you picture at first if I said, "a bird that brings eggs"? A chicken, right? But what if instead I showed you a Phoenix with a golden egg? That's what concept art is: representing some simple and well-known things in a much more incredible and powerful way!”
Emrah Elmasli - Founder and Creative Director
“I used to say “I paint pictures for a living”, but then the first thing they would say is, “Oh, life must be hard for you, being an artist is tough! Can you even sell your paintings? You poor thing!”. I got that a lot. Then I refined it a bit and started to say, “I draw and paint pictures for films and games”, but again, that wasn’t clear enough as I can see the raised eyebrows and faces looking at me in confusion. Where I ended up was “I turn dreams and ideas into beautiful pictures”. I think that's what we do at its core, isn’t it?”
So there you have it, the professional’s take on how to explain concept art to your gran. Hopefully, this blog will help you the next time you find yourself at one of those family gatherings. And if not, perhaps this will simply make you feel less alone.
Fancy being a part of a community of concept artists and illustrators who know exactly how you feel? Or need a place where you can share industry advice, refine skills, and grow your career?