Darek Zabrocki is a concept artist and illustrator. Currently living in Gdansk, Poland, he has just accepted a job at Guerrilla Games‘ UK studio. His client list includes companies like Sega, Creative Assembly, Axis, Bigpoint, Firaxis Games, 20th Century Fox, Radical Entertainment, ISOTX, and Fantasy Flight Games, 3DTotal, ZBrushWorkshops. Along with Wojtek Fus and Jonas De Ro, he runs a free online concept art teaching program called Level Up!. We caught up with Darek to talk about about his inspirations, his switch from traditional media to digital painting, and why he believes facing new challenges gives him extra energy as an artist.
Tell us about your journey
Art has always been a very important part of my life: practising art, at least – I’ve never been a fan of theory. I’ve been painting since I was three, but it was just a hobby until 2008, when I got my first commissions.
Switching from traditional media to digital painting, which I had done the previous year, had helped me a lot. I felt that I needed more focus, analysis and understanding of what I do. When I started painting on a tablet, I realised that I needed to start painting from nature, analysing the surrounding world, and being more aware of what was happening around me. I learned to understand the role of things that could help improve my skills as a concept artist.
From 2008 to 2011, I did mostly illustration work: pictures for board games, book covers, comics, cards and so on. But my willingness to explore my own ideas pushed me to start working on my own projects and build a portfolio with which I could attract clients I had always wanted to work with.
Then in 2013, my old fan art image, Nazgul, won a prize in an international contest for science-fiction and fantasy work and I was invited to participate in Long Beach Comic Con. Visiting the States opened my eyes to many things. I met a lot of new people, I was very inspired by other artists, and I started free educational program called Level Up! with my buddy Wojtek Fus, which continues to this day, with the addition of the super-cool Jonas De Ro.
The last year has been the most productive and successful period in my life, and it really inspires me to create more and more pictures. Now I specialise in environment, character and mechanical design, including marketing pieces, production paintings and pitch works for games and movies. I always strive to be as versatile as I can. I feel very happy, and find it very fulfilling when I have a chance to come up with unique designs rather than repeating existing ones.
How do you want to impact the world?
I bet a few people already know my feelings regarding this, but I’d love to work on a Star Wars movie some day.
What are you passionate about?
I’m inspired by nature, people around me and actually, our life on the earth: as well as movies, I love watching documentaries like Cosmos. It all has an impact on my ideas, which form in my head immediately, very often unexpectedly.
What would be your #1 advice to other artists?
The thing I tell everyone who asks me for advice on how to get started in art is: “If you’re really passionate about it, and know it’s your whole life, you don’t need anyone or anything to force you to do it. You just sit down and do what you love.”