Advanced Game Concept Artist
What is the weirdest job you’ve ever held?
True story – I worked a couple summers at a gun club in the “Trap House.” It’s basically a tiny bunker that sits in front of the line of shooters. My job was to sit beside the super powerful robot throwing arm, place a claybird (or 2) onto the little platform at the end, and yank my hand back before the machine shot forward to fire the “birds” and ripped my arm off. And this “near ripping” happened over and over again. Oh yeah, good times!
What is your favorite all-time game?
Yikes!, Do I have to pick just ONE?! Honestly, it’s gotta be a tie between the originalEarthworm Jim, Epic Mickey, Portal 2, Twilight Princess, Wind Waker, Tomb Raider Legend . . . I’m sure I forgot some favorites in there. Actually, my wife and I played and beat some of these together, which just makes the memories of playing them all the more fun. :)
What games are you playing right now?
Skylanders Swap Force and Disney Infinity – action figures that DOUBLE as playable in-game characters?!?! You CANNOT go wrong with that. I’m also playing the Amazing Spider Man (love the web swinging) and the hilarious Lego: Lord of the Rings. You can use a piano to block the Orc armies from storming the castle!
What motivated you to begin working in the game industry?
I grew up playing video games, but looking at the art on the box and instruction book was just as awesome to me as playing the game itself! And there were times I may not even like the game my friend was playing, but if the art in the book was cool, I would pour through that while they played. As a kid, I had NO idea people got paid just to make that art. Man was I stoked when I found out years later that there are actually people called Concept Artists who get paid to make art! I was absolutely hooked and immediately began my research and portfolio, reworking it to get into the game industry.
What inspires you?
My wife’s awesome fantasy/fiction writing (check out her site if you like!), surprising artistic detail in nature (like water frozen mid-cascade on a hillside or texture on a leaf), great comic book writing like J. Michael Straczynski, and my favorite robotic comic art by Dan Norton called Black Ops, Clayton Crain’s Ghost Rider art, art from theLord of the Rings movies, Donato Giancola, Todd Lockwood, William O’Connor, Ray Villafane’s sweet pumpkin carvings (He’s usually on Food Network’s Halloween challenges), art of games like Metroid Prime . . . ahhhh so many things, so little time.
What is your proudest achievement?
Honestly, I still can’t believe the awesomely creative wife I have (she’s a gamer to boot!), so getting to spend every day with her makes me pretty darn proud.
What piques your curiosity?
Machines, robots, clouds, intricate architecture, and muscle movement. Vast expansive environments, Gothic filigree, and hands. In high school I could not stop drawing all kinds of hands. I have camera at the ready at all times.
What is your hidden talent?
It’s hidden for a reason. If I told you, then it wouldn’t be a hidden talent! :)
What is the best thing about working at Schell Games?
This is a company that truly understands the nature of how to be creative. They encourage you to try things and even if you “fail” that’s ok because it’s really just another step in the process to success. Schell Games has helped me learn from experimentation and I have grown here more than any other company I’ve worked at. They get that there is fear in being creative, but they allow you to try and try again. Constructive, positive criticism isn’t feared because that’s just a normal encouraging part of the overall process to getting an amazing result.
Another very important thing that I love is their commitment to keeping a good work/life balance. Yes, there are crunch times, but they try to keep them few and far between. They even have available a flexible work from home option for when an employee has a serious family or emergency need. This is a company that will help you through the tough times and because of that good work/life commitment, employees feel a huge sense of loyalty and work even harder to make a project shine!
What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I’m a diehard guy from the boondocks of Ohio. I wanted to impress my best friend (later to become my wife) and decided to try swing dance once I found out she was going, too. After four agonizing hours, let’s just say my dancing attempt wasn’t pretty. Still I must have impressed her with my persistence!
For more about Zach, check out his website at www.zdcoe.com.