Meet Brennan Massicotte, Art Director & Concept Artist
I’ve been an avid Homeworld fan art fanboy/nerd/dork since playing the demo back in ’99, so I’ve been stalking professionally reaching out to Brennan Massicotte for a few months now, and I’m super stoked to be bring you all this interview. I’m not going to lie – the reason I made this site is for an excuse to reach out to the people who’s work I love and respect, so I’m honored that Brennan took the time to respond and answer my questions over the holidays for this interview. [note: best viewed on a desktop in fullscreen – I used lots of large images to give Brennan’s art it’s due, and mobile or low res viewing just won’t do it justice]
For those of you who don’t already know, Brennan Massicotte is the Art Director at Blackbird Interactive, who recently launched a Homeworld prequel by the name of Deserts of Kharak. Now, to the Q&A!
Hi Brennan, thanks a lot for doing this interview with us – we’re all a big fan of your art (and Homeworld art in general) here at FoH. Can you tell us a bit about your history – how you got into art, how long you’ve been an artist, and what keeps you passionate about art and space art?
Thanks Mike, it’s really awesome to connect with you and the fans. It’s that mutual love of sci-fi that got me into drawing in the first place. I used to fill sketchbooks with endless doodles of tie fighters until one day my dad did an isometric blueprint drawing of an AT-AT walker for me; the magic stuck. Around 15 I got my hands on Homeworld for the first time and knew that I wanted to make something like it with my career. Around that time Deviantart had this incredible, thriving space art community which fostered my passion for celestial scenes and learning the digital medium. I took the game design course at VFS so I could pick up industry skills and get noticed with the art I’d been teaching myself.
I understand you’re currently an illustrator at Blackbird Interactive – what’s a ‘day in the life’ on the job like?
It’s pretty exciting in the office. We’ve got an incredible group of talented creatives who all bring something different to the table, so there’s a lot of respect there. It’s a very passionate group, so nothing is really done until we think it’s awesome. Typically I’ll spend a few hours a day making pictures for the cinematics or direction for the art team. Working with Rob is awesome, he’s a super inspired guy so we jam a lot on where we should be taking things direction-wise. I also work closely with Aaron Kambeitz on the concepting side, so we brainstorm ideas and and share painting mojo.
How were you introduced to Homeworld, and what’s drawn you to making a career out of illustrating for the Homeworld universe? Tell me a bit about how all that got started.
When I was a teenager I used to steal my friend’s computer to boot up HW 1. Half-way through that first adagio I said “hey dude, you gotta come check this out.” I think most of us can relate to the trance of that first mothership launch. The magic of Ruskays score, the mind-blowing ship designs, the unique and raw animatics….yeah. Once I found out it was being developed in Vancouver it felt like destiny. Through some turn of fate I landed a gig with Aaron Kambeitz at a studio called United Front Games here in Vancouver that was just forming. Our values and style really clicked in a way that’s carried forward to Blackbird. When the time was right I jumped on board and haven’t looked back! There are so many cool things we could do with Homeworld.
What are your tools of the trade (software, paintbrush, etc)? Do you tend to prefer digital art or physical art?
I work almost entirely in Photoshop. The breadth of techniques and tools is pretty bottomless. I like to keep up with quick marker sketches to stay in touch with the lines and basics. I’m excited to pick up 3d pre-visualization tools like 3d Coat though. I think that’s the way to push the ship designs.
Are Canadians really as nice as everyone thinks they are?
Hah! I think that’s sort of a misconception. Canadians are incredibly polite, but we can also be withdrawn and keep to ourselves. That said I’m super proud to be Canadian and where we’re trying to take things.
Any tips for aspiring artists?
Have fun with your work and don’t get too sucked into the competition or pressure to make toil out of it. Keep trying new things and embrace the things that you like instead of trying to look like someone else. If you’re looking for work you’ll generally get a job because you do something different than the 10 other folks down the hall. You want the clients that dig what you do!
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