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Nikodem J. Malec: concept artist interview

Nikodem Malec

Concept Artist

German concept artist Nikodem J. Malec is about to begin his first internship while being enrolled at the Cologne Game Lab, and shares a few insights about the steps to take to get started…

Nikodem's ArtStation

3dtotal

Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you, what do you do, and where are you located?

Nikodem

My name is Nikodem J. Malec, and I’m a Digital Games student based in Cologne, Germany. I’m enrolled at the Cologne Game Lab, where my study focus has been Game Art since 2017. I started doing art back in 2016, after dropping out of university where I studied biology. I focus on environment concept art and illustration.

Bio Mod Shop in forest
Bio-Mod Shop

3dtotal

What was the workflow behind your latest gallery image? Where did the idea come from?

Nikodem

My workflow always starts with intense research and ideation. I spent the majority of my time on this phase to research, combine, and create various ideas. Based on those, I use Blender to build simple 3D blockmeshes to find a good composition, and lastly paint the picture. The idea for my latest piece was sparked by the Atomhawk Solarpunk challenge, which approached an interesting futuristic science-fiction setting similar to Cyberpunk.

death stranding fanart
Death Stranding fan-art

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What challenges did the image present? Did you learn something new?

Nikodem

Coming up with an idea that is not generic is the hardest challenge, but also the reason why I enjoy doing concept art. For this picture itself, the hardest part was combining the old buildings with the futuristic ones, without making it seem unfitting. The research itself was a challenge as well, Solarpunk being a topic that is pretty new and unexplored.

3dtotal

Do you use any other software, either for work or personal projects?

Nikodem

Besides using Photoshop and Blender, I tried other softwares as well. I really love the functionality of 3D-Coat and tried out some MODO, but opted to Blender because it's free and getting regular updates that makes it extremely powerful. Also, seeing the excellent work of Finnian MacManus, I would really love to try out working in VR!

racer desert
Desert Racer

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How do you keep your portfolio up-to-date? Any tips?

Nikodem

I talked to many artists working in the industry who gave me critique and portfolio reviews and one important thing I’ve learned from them is that you should only show your best work. So based on that, I regularly update my portfolio by adding new pieces, as well as deleting older, unfitting work, even if I personally like it or am still attached to it. Also, I’ve often heard that you are judged by your worst piece!

blue mountains scenery
Blue Valley

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What are your artistic ambitions?

Nikodem

The most important step right now is to break into the industry, get my first experiences, and see where I fit into the pipeline. It’s very important to me to meet people who work in the same industry, because I’d love to make new friends that share my own passion and learn from them. To reach this goal, I want to improve and produce my best work on a daily basis, that’s all that matters!

I regularly update my portfolio by adding new pieces, as well as deleting older, unfitting work, even if I personally like it or am still attached to it. Also, I’ve often heard that you are judged by your worst piece!

3dtotal

Who are your favorite artists, traditional or digital, and can you explain why?

Nikodem

I have a lot of favorite artists, too many to name all of them in one post, but the one influencing me the most is Maciej Kuciara. He kind of was my first "passive" mentor, as I learned the most using his tutorials and courses without ever meeting him in person. I really admire his design sense, his versatility and approach to learning everything new that could make his work look even better. My two other inspirations are Darren Bartley and Georgi Simeonov: both of them have a distinct style, which I personally will probably never adapt to, and an unbelievably great imagination and design sense, which I really admire.

forest carved skull
Carved Skull

3dtotal

What can we expect to see from you next?

Nikodem

I’m beginning my first internship soon, which hopefully will be a starting point in my career. What comes after that, only time will tell. The one thing I have control of though is my passion and motivation. I’m constantly trying to learn new things and trying to get to the next level, a habit that probably will never change. For personal art, I have some projects on my mind I want to develop and work on in the future!

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