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.