Jeff Merghart

ImagineFX - - Carbine Studios -

The in­dus­try veteran tells us how to be a suc­cess­ful artist

What did you do be­fore your started work­ing for Car­bine?

Be­sides a lot less driv­ing, I was a se­nior con­cept artist and se­nior an­i­ma­tor for Sony in San Diego. Be­fore that I started as an an­i­ma­tor on An Amer­i­can Tail [an an­i­mated film re­leased in 1986]. I did var­i­ous character de­sign, an­i­ma­tion and sto­ry­board and lay­out jobs, work­ing both full time and free­lance, un­til I landed at SCEA (Sony Com­puter En­ter­tain­ment of Amer­ica) and we made The Mark of Kri for the PlaySta­tion 2. Since then I’ve launched nine more games.

Who do you count as key in­flu­ences on your work?

The ear­li­est mem­ory I have of some­thing be­ing im­printed on my mind was see­ing Dis­ney’s The Jun­gle Book. Ever since then I’ve been fas­ci­nated and ob­sessed with character an­i­ma­tion and character de­sign, specif­i­cally the work of Milt Kahl, John Louns­bery, Marc Davis, Ken An­der­son and Bill Peet, as well as Ed Bene­dict. I was also greatly in­flu­enced by Euro­pean comic artist Al­bert Uderzo of Astérix and Obe­lix fame, and Nor­man Rock­well. And thanks to the in­ter­net I’ve dis­cov­ered so many other great in­flu­ences it’s ridicu­lous!

What’s your best tip for artists who want to get into the in­dus­try?

Be flex­i­ble ar­tis­ti­cally. If you want to be a visual de­vel­op­ment artist, in any field, then you need to be able to con­vey many dif­fer­ent ideas vis­ually. If some­thing’s not work­ing you’ve got to try some­thing else. Suc­cess­ful artists are able to adapt to dif­fer­ent medi­ums, styles and gen­res. As visual de­vel­op­ment artists, if we want to stay vi­tal then we need to be able to evolve while keep­ing our work ap­peal­ing and con­vinc­ing.

How do you find liv­ing and work­ing in Aliso Viejo?

I only work here – I still live in San Diego (and south San Diego at that) and com­mute ev­ery day. Not try­ing to sound kiss-assy or fake, but do­ing what I do with the team I work with at Car­bine Stu­dios is worth the 160-plus mile drive. That’s three to five hours driv­ing a day. My car isn’t very happy and I wish I was closer to my wife and kids, but it’s not so bad. I just keep the gas tank and iPod loaded.

What are you work­ing on next?

Right now I’ve just got Wild­Star and its po­ten­tial in­car­na­tions in my sights, and it’s go­ing to look ab­so­lutely awe­some!

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