Interview with Mariano Steiner
Apart from the fact that you are from Brazil and that you use ZBrush, I know very little about you. Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you got into the CG industry?
Well, I've been a CG artist for about four years now, but I've been connected to art since I was a little kid. I started by drawing from comics such as Spiderman and X-Men. I also drew the characters from TV cartoons like DragonBall Z and Yuyu Hakusho etc. I have always been into movies and video games, so for me it's a dream come true to work in the CG industry.
Can you remember what it was that made you decide to become a 3D artist rather than 2D? Was it a film, a particular artist or something else?
That is a good question. I think that video games made me prefer 3D. When I was choosing career paths I didn't know how a 2D artist would fit into game or film production. But 3D was obviously involved. So it was kind of a natural choice. I've never really seen it as a decision between 2D and 3D.
I notice that you have been a ZBrush beta tester a few times. Can you tell me what your favorite advances in the software have been and what being a beta tester entails?
That is right, this has been my third year as a ZBrush beta tester and I must say I feel really honored to be involved. ZBrush is a hugely important piece of software, which has drastically changed the film and games industry and so it is a privilege to be involved in the testing of it. The Pixologic team are always a few steps ahead. They always release impressive new tools and they are a great bunch of people. I really can't say what I like the most, because I like it all!
Being a beta tester is fun actually. We chat a lot with the other beta testers and the Pixologic team,
searching for bugs or errors to prevent problems with the final release. And of course, we get to see every new feature before everyone else.
You have a brilliant portfolio of work, but the image that stands out to me the most is Showtime. Can you tell me a little bit about the image and what it was that made you decide to sculpt it?
Thanks! Showtime is a tribute to the amazing artist Richard Macdonald. I'm very inspired by his work, and I was fortunate enough to visit one of his galleries in Las Vegas last year. To be honest it made me feel like a little bee in a large forest. His work is impressive in every way, so I decided to reproduce one of his works (or die trying).
Is traditional sculpting something that you have tried before?
I have tried it before, but it's very different to using 3D so I need to practice it more to develop my skills. Right now I'm focusing on my 3D art, but I'll definitely give it more attention in the future.
You seem to have a fantastic understanding of human anatomy. Did you study specifically to achieve this or is it something that has developed over time through observation?
Understanding anatomy requires pure, hard work. I study anatomy every day and I try to pay as much attention as I can to it. It's the most important aspect of a well-built character.
What are the opportunities like for a CG artist in Brazil? Do you find that you do a lot of work for international clients?
Here in Brazil the games and film market is a little baby compared to the USA. The industry is starting to grow here, but most of the CG industry in Brazil is focused on advertising. As a freelancer the opportunities for a Brazilian artist are growing a lot. We have some amazing 3D and 2D artists here and I'm sure they have plenty of work.
I have to admit that I speak to a lot of artists, both 3D and 2D, who come from South America. Is there something in the culture that encourages the growth of artists?
Yes! The fact that we have no encouragement at all! In Brazil people still have that preconception that art is not a real profession and a lot of people don't even know that you can make a living out of it. It's getting better now, with several new talented artists having emerged recently, but the art industry here is still very poor.
I always like to ask CG artists what they like to do when they get some time off. What do you do when you get chance to tear yourself away from the computer screen?
Honestly that doesn't happen very often. But when it does I have my family, my girlfriend and my friends to hang out with. And I'm also a musician.
You must have reached a lot of your goals already, but do you still have some targets you would like to reach or any projects you would like to work on?
Sure! I used to have very low level aspirations and I don't make plans like, "I want to be working at Disney in 15 years time." I always think one year at the time. Currently there are a few companies I would love to work with, like The Aaron Sims Company, Digital Domain, Digic, Blur... maybe Pixar and DreamWorks.
It has been a pleasure catching up with you. I look forward to seeing more of your work in the future.
Thanks a lot for the interview! It was fun and a great pleasure.
To see more by Mariano Steiner, check out ZBrush Characters & Creatures
Digital Art Masters: Volume 8
and Prime - The Definitive Digital Art Collection