Brandon Liao is a concept artist. He previously worked at Riot Games on concept designs, champions and skins for the hugely popular MOBA League of Legends, having interned at the company while studying at Pasadena’s Art Center College of Design.
We caught up with Brandon to discuss his conversion from aerospace engineering to entertainment work, the inspirations behind his painterly, richly contrasted concept art – and why experiences are like a giant chest of Lego pieces, waiting to be combined into new forms.
Tell us about your journey
Originally drawing and painting were just hobbies: I was pursuing aerospace engineering as a career. It wasn’t until near the end of high school that I realized what I really wanted to do wasn’t just to build flying machines but entire universes.
So I dropped the calculators, picked up an old pen tablet, and somehow managed to make my way into Art Center College of Design. It was during my second year while participating in Entertainment Design’s annual Intern Show that I got a chance to meet an art producer from Riot Games and land an internship. I’ve been working professionally ever since.
How do you want to impact the world?
I want to create a game where we can all sit down with friends and have fun doing random things. I do have an idea for it, but it’s going to be a while before I think about attempting to build it: the amount of resources needed would be insane.
What are you passionate about?
Good stories. A well-told story makes even the simplest sketch more beautiful than the most masterfully crafted piece of art. If you can make the audience believe in what’s being shown – make them feel the movement, embrace the emotion, imagine the history – that is already more successful than an awesome rendering with pretty lights and brush strokes.
As my dad tells me, “If you paint a creek, I should be able to hear it.”
What would be your #1 advice to other artists?
The world is like a giant chest filled with Lego pieces; the more pieces you gather the more you can build. Sometimes you will find the pieces you need; sometimes you will find yourself needing to create a unique piece to get things to fit in a certain way. When people see what you did, they will praise you for it and quite possibly be inspired to build unique pieces of their own. But none of this would have happened if you had never tried looking at what the world already had to offer.
So don’t let trends, personal tastes, or the fear that your portfolio won’t have what your dream studio is looking for keep you from digging deeper into the chest. And keep building: it only adds more to an already gigantic world of ideas.