I’ve known Marco for over 3 years now and did a road trip from Seattle to Atlanta with him… I don’t remember there really being many dull moments during that trip. He lives in Atlanta now and works for CCP and ever improving. You may recognize his work from various web art community activities or even from some of the work he’s done with me on CthulhuTech, Dog Fight (WWII Air Combat), and recently on Chthonian Stars. He’s easy to work with, always goes above and beyond the call of duty, and you know that no matter what the subject material is, he’s having a blast. He largely lets his art do the talking for him so his answers are straight and too the point. If you have any specific questions for him you can drop him a line or ask me and I’ll grill him!;) Without further ado, Mmmmmmarco Mazzoni!
When did you first figure out that you wanted to work in the game industry?
Probably around ’96-’97 when I first started playing around with Quake mods. I had a minor obsession with re-skinning the models in the game. I would sit in the back of class and come up with new designs in my notebook complete with orthographic views. I had a lot of fun doing this for a while, but eventually my focus drifted towards other interests which put me off course for illustration and concept art for a few years.
What’s your favorite thing to draw/paint?
Well, mentally I’m still 14 years old, so I always default to monsters and robots. Lately though I’ve been slightly obsessed with near future deep space exploration and really thinking about the technology and emotions that come with it.
When did you get your first professional job as an artist and what was it working on?
My first paying gig was doing wildlife illustration for Arizona Game and Fish. There was nothing glamorous about it, but it really taught me how to appreciate the subtle relationships in physiology between different species.
Not that much to be honest. I think it all comes down to whether or not you gain a deep sense of satisfaction from creating something and if you have the motivation to make that happen. There seems to be a misconception that you need to be born with “talent” to be a great artist, but what does that even mean really? A superior understanding of spacial relationships, color harmony, design sense? Those can all be learned, it just depends on how much of yourself you’re willing to put into it.
You’ve heard it before, but there really is too many to list. I would have to say I’ve been more influenced by film than anything else, particularly sci-fi and horror classics.
You seem to do really well with organic shapes, especially when it comes to creature design. Where do you look for design ideas?
Well, nature has done a pretty good job of making things functional and cool to look at, so of course that’s my first stop. One of the main things I try to do though, is stay away from obvious design choices. Say I wanted to use some elements from a crab, for example; I would probably avoid the first two things I notice, the claw and the distinct body shape. Instead I might focus on how the legs transition into the body, or maybe the surface texture. If I’m designing something more outlandish, I’ll think about the environment it evolved in and what features I can exaggerate to emphasize that.
What’s your favorite game?
I don’t really have a single favorite, but a few recent games that I could probably play forever if there was enough content would be Half Life 2, Red Dead Redemption, Dead Space, and the Mass Effect series.
If you could have lunch with anyone in the world, who would it be?
No one, I only eat brunch.
Even if you’re already getting work, make sure you’re still dedicated to improving yourself. There’s nothing better than watching a decent artist grow into something amazing over the years.
Thank you Marco for taking time out of your schedule to answer a few questions for me. Always a pleasure! For everyone out there reading, here’s a link to Marco’s CGHub gallery. Go swing by and let him know how he’s doing, or as per the usual, you can add a comment here by clicking in the little word balloons on the upper right portion of the post. If you have any questions, suggestions, requests, please don’t hesitate to send them my way!
Next up: Graphic design!:)