Simon Kopp – “Make illustrations, and more importantly, show them to everybody!”
The Creative Chair talks to Simon Kopp, a talented illustrator and concept artist from Germany.
Simon Kopp has produced some amazing work and has been involved with a number of high profile projects. We caught up with him to find our more…
Tell us a little bit about yourself and the work that you do?
I am an illustrator / concept artist and am currently working as an art director on an unannounced feature film. I started working around 4 years ago during my studies here in Nuremberg, Germany – where I still live. My studies ended February 2014 and led me into freelancing for games, film and advertising right away. May 2014 started the biggest project I’ve yet worked on – Ori and the Blind Forest. Ori was released in March 2015 and I kind of worked on it until the last minute. I did lots of different jobs after Ori had been released, from illustrations to concept art or finding a technical solution for different approaches. Clients like to book my work especially for background related tasks and illustrations with a focus on the environment.
What/who are some of the inspirations behind your visual style?
My style is just a mix of whatever techniques and looks I liked from different artists. Once I found out that your own style is just the merging of whatever styles you like, it was very easy to not worry about it anymore! My style is a mix of John Singer Sargent, Craig Mullins, Thomas Scholes and John Wallin Liberto – that is for the technical side of my style.
My design language and skill has grown a lot since I met Johannes Figlhuber. He showed me a lot of different things and what ‘Design’ actually is. I wouldn’t be able to pin it down to more persons or things – that would be waytoo much. Each Design itself is influenced by so many different factors. Nature is always a big one here.
You were part of the team that made Ori and The Blind Forrest. How did that project come about and what was your involvement?
Ori and the Blind Forest started 4 or 5 years before release in 2015. I got in contact with Ori first 2011.
Maximilian Degen and I were both asked if we might want to join Moon Studios to help find the style of the game. Max got the job – rightly so! It kind of bummed me out back then, but looking back it was the best thing that could have happened to Max and myself. Max had the chance to establish the amazing, price-winning look it has now and I had the chance to finish my studies and work on my own skills independently.
I joined the project May 2014. My job was polishing the game, adding another level of ‘awesome’ – like one of the leaders said. My first task back then was building up and set dressing Mount Horu. It’s the last part of the game, thus the hardest in the whole game. Testing it was a nightmare! I am really bad at games in general, especially platformer titles. Kaja Reinki and Herdis Jakobsen joined the team. Kaja’s first task was to make the whole game continuous and Herdis helped with random stuff. Yes, the game wasn’t planned like it is today. It was actually planned as a good old
Metroidvania with rooms. But that kind of looked silly – I’m happy Gennadiy convinced everybody that it’s worth delaying the game for this.
So, polish was one of my main tasks. Kaja, Herdis and I polished over 230 different scenes in the game. Added plants, added small points of interests and developed more elaborate themes for some parts of the game. I also worked with the tech team in order to animate the flowers and shrubs and make them react to the player when walking by. I set up every flower, every mushroom or root in the game. Tech provided some very nice solutions to work smoothly on this. Great work, tech team – they don’t get praised enough to be honest.
I didn’t have as much impact on the Definitive Edition that released earlier this year. I only had two weeks to work on this. I had mostly just been giving feedback on setting up the environment animations and reactions again.
What advice would you give to people who want to pursue a career in illustration?
I don’t really know. There is not much I can say that everybody wouldn’t know, but I think the most important thing is: Make illustrations! And more importantly, show them to everybody! Connect with people you don’t know, but look up to. That is how I got my first jobs. I’ve always been pestering people I looked up to in order to get feedback and tips. It’s the best I could do – some of them are very good friends now, some of them are art directors giving me jobs.
Finally, if you died and got reincarnated as a song, what would that song be?
That is the hardest question ever asked. I have no idea. I don’t listen to music much. I can’t listen to music while working or doing anything on my PC, nor when I’m out. If I do it’s when rendering something or other cases, it’s music without any vocals. Vocals noticeable block parts of my brain and become too distracting. I don’t have that one best song of my life, music never really guided or accompanied me in my life.