Marek Okon is a freelance concept artist currently working for Marvel Entertainment and Infinity Ward. His past clients include Thunder Road Pictures, Capcom, Warner Bros. Pictures, Naughty Dog and Legendary Pictures, and he has created illustrations for Games Workshop, Applibot and Solaris Books. He designs environments and characters, and creates promotional illustrations and high-quality development assets. Outside of art, he loves cooking, travel, spending time with family and playing cards with friends. And in his rare moments of free time, he’s working on his own “secret IP”. We asked Marek to tell us more.
Tell us about your journey
I always liked to draw, but I didn’t think seriously about painting until pretty late in life – the end of my college years. But I was determined, and I spent countless hours working in Photoshop with a tablet. Fortunately, thanks to the internet, I had access to amazing tutorials, and tons of information about painting. To my surprise, it didn’t take long before I was paid for my illustrations: first for some book covers for a local publisher, then album illustrations for Privateer Press.
My big breakthrough was when I started working for Crytek on Crysis 2. It was my first big videogame title and my first chance to work with the amazing Maciej Kuciara. It was a start of a friendship that has lasted until today.
My illustrations for Crysis 2 ended up being displayed all over the net, which led to a rollercoaster of awesome clients and projects. I started working for movie studios and spent a year in-house at Naughty Dog, which was one of the best experiences of my life. Now I’m trying to enjoy my family a little bit more, especially my two-year-old son, who is picking up painting himself … mostly on walls and tables, but it’s a start!
How do you want to impact the world?
I don’t think there is anything better than inspiring other people. I got a tremendous amount of positive feedback from my tutorial series, Illustration Unchained, and it really got me pumped to do something similar in the future. I know it’s a cliché, but it’s really great feeling when you get the chance to impact other peoples’ lives in a good way.
What are you passionate about?
Storytelling. I always tried to let the story show through in my illustrations, but recently I kicked things up a notch and I’m trying to create my own story and my own IP around it.
It’s a very frustrating process, especially since I suck at writing, but I think I’m getting closer to something that can be shown to a broader audience – that is, somebody else beside my wife and son, who seems to really like my silly stories.
What would be your #1 advice to other artists?
Aside from “practise more” and “work harder”, I have to emphasise the value of knowing how to use 3D software, even at a basic level. Working in 3D will open your eyes at many things related to creating volumes and shapes, light and shadow, and how different surfaces react to light. It’s a game-changer for anyone interested in being a professional artist. Also, practise more! And work harder!