As part of a new “Streamline Spotlight” series that will introduce key team members and invite them to share their industry experiences, we interviewed Korosh Ghanbarzadeh, a Senior Artist at Streamline Games.
Korosh, you’ve been an artist for 14 years and worked on multiple AAA titles, including Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War and Street Fighter V. How did your artist journey begin and why?
I’ve been passionate about art since forever! Honestly, it’s the only thing that I’m truly interested in. For me, it made perfect sense to pursue a career in art. It was tough in the beginning because there weren’t many game studios when I started out. I had to be open to anything that would grow my portfolio and worked on anything from advertisements to illustrating children’s books. I had to learn how to balance jumping between projects, taking care of my family, and keep up with my education. It’s history now that I found Streamline, but all that hard work paid off.
Do you remember your first art commission?
Of course, I remember my first paying job. It was an indie studio that needed some character concept art for their short film. The work itself was very rewarding, but when I look back now, I had no idea what I was doing! Even my first assignments at Streamline were concept art before I transitioned to 3D and Characters, so it’s a reminder of where I started.
You’ve had the chance to work on multiple titles, but what projects really hold a special place in your heart?
Oddly enough, it’s the people, not the projects, that leave a lasting impression in my heart. We work and learn so much from one another and not just from other artists. Some of the most valuable feedback has come from people with no formal training because it offers me a new perspective with fresh eyes.
On the topic of learning, what is something you’d share with a younger self before you became an artist?
I wish I could share my current perspective and vision as an artist. It’s easy to get lost when you can’t see the forest for the trees, and self-doubt can easily lead you into a downward spiral. I was stuck trying to make ends meets, all the while still unsure of where this road could lead. Honestly, it’s a luxury if you’re starting a career and have time to figure it out. Having perspective would’ve given me time to think.
You mentioned “vision as an artist.” What exactly does that mean?
I’ve always been passionate about art and knew I wanted to create characters. The mediums I was exposed to were limited, and it wasn’t until I work on multiple projects before I realized how expansive art could be. It wasn’t limited to children’s books, museums, and video games. Had I explored different mediums early on, then I could’ve pushed my technical skills and career further. These are the things you learn as you go.
What is your creative process? Are there any differences between your personal projects and professional projects?
For me, the creative process is all about logic and understanding human nature. All the visual elements that I create are based on logic of form, shaped in consideration to how the audience is going to perceive it. We often say art is subjective and personal, which may be true in terms of the desired style you’re trying to create, but regardless of style, the idea of “appeal” is grounded in logic, which is quite rigid. This applies to both my personal and work-related projects.
Something unique to work that I love is how dynamic the projects can be, the different processes I’m exposed to, and the creative teams I get to collaborate with. Using Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War as an example, I really enjoyed how fearless their team was about changes, even in the later stages of production. It showed me that they really cared about the visual appearance of the game.
Do you have any advice for industry break-ins trying to grow their artistic eye?
I would advise anyone to look past the barrier of technicality as quickly as possible. It’s easy to lose focus of the craft when learning toolsets. Remember, there will always be something new and exciting coming up in our industry. Technology advances, but art as a foundation never goes away. It’s important you become fluent with the tools so that the mechanics of “how do I achieve this image” doesn’t limit you.
Once you get past that, spend time studying how things work in this world – mechanism of things – building the basis of logic for you to be creative is important. Lighting is also an important part of storytelling and how an audience perceives your work.