Marko Djurdjevic is Creative Director and CEO of SIXMOREVODKA, a boutique concept art studio with headquarters in Berlin. A self-taught artist, Marko established himself producing outstanding illustration work for companies including Massive Black and Marvel before founding his own studio. SIXMOREVODKA continues to develop its first IP project, which started with the release of Degenesis: Rebirth Edition, a sprawling two-volume RPG with some of the most impressive art in the genre. We recently talked to Marko about his work.
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From Working in a Bubble to Building an Amazing Team
Tell me about yourself
I’ve been an illustrator for the past twenty years. I actually started back in ‘96 as an old-school ink and watercolour illustrator for role-playing games, then as a concept artist, and from there I went into the comic book industry. Six years ago, I decided to open my own company here in Berlin.
SIXMOREVODKA basically grew out of the necessity for me to not work in a bubble at home any more, which had started to drive me insane. I wanted to be surrounded by good artists and people who can inspire me on a daily basis to do my own job at a better pace, with more quality control and without being too content and lazy in the work I produce.
One of the greatest things about having a team around you is that you can measure yourself against what the best people on your team produce, and if you hire amazing talent, obviously that puts you under fire and makes you hold yourself accountable in a completely different way.
Ten Years Later, A Passion Project Revisited
Where did Degenesis come from?
When Degenesis first started, in March of 2003, it came out of an idea that me and my friend Chris bred up on a rainy afternoon. We decided we wanted to do an RPG together. We were green behind the ears, putting our ideas together to produce something meaningful to us. We didn’t understand anything about publishing, international contexts, translation, or anything.
We were happy with the mediocre success that we had, but we were brought back to the project ten years later when I stumbled across the old forums that we used to host. People were still playing the game, and that affected me really strongly. I had abandoned this child but I came back a decade later and people were still enjoying it and having fun in that world.
So we decided to find out what would happen if we took what we did back when we were twenty-four and tried to reboot it with all the knowledge that we have as people and professionals today, with more international context. We wanted to see what we could do with the property in terms of foresight, marketing, etc.
And the Rebirth Edition is the first major IP project for SIXMOREVODKA, right?
We are predominantly an outsourcing studio, so what we do on a day-to-day basis is serve clients across the planet with good ideas and conceptual work. We’ve done that for a very long time, working on dozens of different projects. So at a certain point we felt like, Why aren’t we doing this for ourselves? At the end of the day, if this is our expertise, and this is the thing we do best, and this is the reason we’re getting hired, why aren’t we producing something we own completely by ourselves?
Going Beyond the RPG
After watching the Degenesis trailer, it’s very exciting to see there’s a live action project, where do you see things going from here?
Where the story goes from here is pretty much open. We’ve been pitching it to Hollywood and playing around with ideas for video games, etc. We see the RPG as the basis of the whole IP, but it’s also something we can go back to and explore franchises that could come out of it, to see where the story could be taken from there.
Words of Wisdom
Do you have any advice for other artists?
I think the most important part is authenticity and believing in your product. I’ve seen a lot of people dreaming of doing something for themselves but all they do is dream about it and never do it. Sometimes just the action is much more important than the dream. The dream is not a tangible thing, and you’re only going to feel invested in your own product or idea if you actually invest time in it. The more you put in, the easier it’s going to be for you to actually profit from it.
So no regrets about starting on Degenesis without knowing exactly what it was.
None. I would have done it even if we didn’t sell a single copy. I felt very happy about creating things. I think that’s one of the major motivators to work in this industry in the first place, to be able to create things, not just forecast them.