Dimitri Sirenko

I have been involved in visual art in one form or another my entire life.

When my parents introduced me to pen and paper it created a certain positively charged obsession.  There were many things that inspired me throughout this journey.

In the early stages of my life I was definitely inspired by the surroundings including my family members.  But also, as any kid of that age, cartoons and animation played a big role in shaping my own preferences.

Towards the late nineties the emergence of video games in my life definitely gave me a new surge of inspiration.  It definitely helped that my father was just as interested in playing video games.  During this time I was drawing countless fantasy and sci-fi weapons and items that I imagined to be in my own video games. 

In 1999 and through to 2002 my parents decided to seek a better life in Canada.  The process of immigrating from Ukraine was a grueling one that put forth many challenges for our family.

Throughout this journey to Vancouver art still remained a big part of my life.

I was introduced to new mediums in highschool such as acrylic paint and drafting and 3D software.  I became so interested in this new digital technology that I decided to pursue a career in animation and video games.

I ended up going to Emily Carr University of Art and Design and graduating with a major in Media Arts (particularly 3D animation).

The problem was that I graduated right around the time of the recession.  The same month I received my diploma, Electronic Arts had just laid off some 200 employees.  What a great time to come out of school and look for a job.

For nearly two subsequent years I worked random jobs in sales and customer service while painting digitally fantasy related pictures most of which were entries to weekly challenges and contests on a concept art forum.

My parents were extremely worried that I was beginning to fall into the starving artist category.  I agreed with them and at some point we made a mutual decision that if by the time two years passed since graduating I did not have an industry job, I would reconsider my profession.

Thankfully, the same concept art forum saved me and someone from a local studio found me and hired me to do some contract work for a video game, Halo! 

This was my necessary first foot in the door of the industry.

For the next ten years I worked in numerous studios and on numerous projects – some more indie and some quite famous.

My ambitions were to keep getting promoted to higher positions of leadership.  I became senior concept artist, then lead artist and finally, acquired my dream jobs as an Art Director.

But as I gained more experience as an art director, I realized that I had a false understanding shaped by rose colored glasses.

My job was becoming more and more of a job and not a means of artistic expression.  Unfortunately money is a weird beast that of which both promotes, yet stagnates progress.  But worst of all, it can take away the creativity from one’s soul.

I started seeking new adventures while still working in the studio.  I was craving for a better creative outlet. Thankfully I discovered several traditional art competitive live events.  After deciding to try my hand at them I finally started painting traditionally as practice after almost 10 years of not touching any tangible media.

I was able to win many such events including Art Battle National Championship of 2018.  This really let me believe that there was a potential in fine arts as a career in the future. 

But never would I have suspected that even after getting promoted and given ‘Best Employee of the Year’ at my then full time job as an art director, would I run into political workplace dramas and ambitious people trying to conspire to get me out of my position.

That alone disgusted me so much that I could no longer continue working there and decided to try doing fine art for living for at least 2-3 months to see where I could take it.