Aaron Limonick was born and raised in Los Angeles. The son of a studio musician in the film industry and a custom jewelry designer, he was surrounded by creative people from an early age, going on to study at Art Center College of Design, where he found the competitive nature of successful artists to be “both inspiring and highly intimidating”. In 2004, he began his first job in the games industry, as a concept artist for Neversoft Entertainment, going on to work on games, film and TV projects for studios like High Moon Studios, Rhythm & Hues and M2Film. He currently works as a concept artist at Naughty Dog, on projects including The Last of Us.
Tell us about your journey
Honestly, sometimes I wonder how I got here. I think it just started out with doing art my entire life and then realizing that I never wanted to do anything else. My parents made sure I did really well in school, but deep down I knew this was the only thing that would make me happy. The real breakthrough was when I started at Art Center and met so many talented individuals who both inspired me and frightened me. Those are the people I’m closest with, even to this day. I owe it all to them – and of course, to my mom and dad for showing me what it takes to develop skills to a high level.
How would you like to impact the world?
I’m not sure I consciously try to impact the world. If I manage to impact a few people here and there, I’m okay with that.
What are you passionate about?
I just do the kind of art that makes me happy and I hope people can appreciate what I’m interested in. I really enjoy doing art outside of concept work in my spare time – illustration and art without a specific purpose – since that’s where I can let go of the rules for once and come up with some crazy ideas. Even when concept art pretends to be crazy, it still has certain requirements that make it concept art, and that’s restrictive. I paint traditionally whenever I can, and that gives me a feeling that digital just will never satisfy. I also really enjoy teaching, where I get to share some of the philosophies I’ve picked up over the years. It makes me really happy to help people break through barriers and grow artistically.
What would be your #1 advice to other artists?
The absolute best advice I can give an aspiring artists is: make sure you keep up to date with technology that lets you do your job well – but if that technology is responsible for your success, you’re doing something wrong. You should be offering more than just solid technical skills or understanding of a 3D program. You can learn that stuff really quickly; I’ve seen people start concepting in ZBrush after a month or two of using it. But does that mean that their design is good? I can’t stress enough how important it is to learn good design and focus on individuality.
Aaron Limonick’s website