posted on Apr 30, 2020
Interview: Furio Tedeschi
From the far, far away land of South Africa hails an artist whose name should be already familiar to any 3D artist out there: Furio Tedeschi. He`s a veteran of the industry with many titles under his belt, and just looking at his LinkedIn profile had me scrolling down for a while. Let's see what he has to say.
Hey man, greetings from cold and dark Germany; how's winter in Johannesburg?
Greetings from down south; well it’s now summer down here, so bright and cooking.
I was doing my homework prior to this interview, and there's precious little about you on the internet. Just your CV and some galleries on different platforms. Is this intended?
Not sure what were you looking to find? Dunno, maybe try a Google search hehe… :)
Speaking of your personal career, it seems you have been active in the industry since 1998, even before you finished your studies. How was it at the start?
Things were a little different, less saturated and many artists’ success was based on skill as opposed to some of the methods employed today. Being a smaller industry, it was a lot harder to get work so unless you were a sought-after artist it was hard to get work (especially freelance). I for one landed up doing many different roles in many companies, as an artist in a small company had to wear many hats.
You've gone a long way since then, and you have played a variety of roles in different projects, from concept artist to lead modeler. My favourite one of the list is “robot advisor.” Do you feel more at home in one particular role? Which one made you feel the most fulfilled?
Yeah, took me a while to figure out what I wanted to do and kinda landed up focusing more on concept and design; I find this work a lot more suited to me as I really enjoy coming up with characters and creatures for films or games. Even though I have worked in different positions in the industry from modeler to a lead artist managing a team, I find doing the concepts the most enjoyable for me. Regardless, all the other work has helped contribute to work I do today...lol, well robot advisor was due to union issues, name changes...position and work is the same. :)
I see a strong fascination for organic shapes in your work. Where do you get your inspiration from?
Suppose I was always influenced by anime mechs like Goldrake and Mazinger as a kid…not a massive fan of DARPA-looking bots, very bolts and screw mechs with block shapes, although there are designs in this area I like. I tend to focus on more fluid organic shapes.
When it comes to hard surface designs such as robots, do you take much from living organisms and animal anatomy?
Yes...I do not see much difference in hard surface to organic, just a different treatment of the surfaces.
In that regard, what would be your advice to artists struggling to learn anatomy? Which method would you consider most efficient?
Learn the fundamentals, practice and try new things; don’t get stuck in loops. Sculpt in real life with clay, allowing your hands to feel the shapes will translate to digital work you do. Then look at much reference and don’t just look at static T-poses, look at the anatomy of humans or animals in motion as muscles completely change form when moving. There are many books for anyone that is interested in the subject.
About your own art education, did you study any European old masters, like Bernini or Donatello?
Yeah, I studied many old masters – seeing Michelangelo’s Pietà in the Vatican when I was young made a huge impression on me, as there two types of artists for me – technique-based and craftsmen, and some blend between the two.
Artists that have had a huge influence in what I do are Frazetta, HR Giger, Moebius, Crash McCreery, Steve Wang, Simon Bisley, Marc Silvestri, Jim Lee, Phil Tippett, Peter König, and Chris Cunningham to name a few, and also Kenneth Scott’s work from early 2001 still inspires me out today.
How do you like teaching?
What about public speaking at workshops and events?
Yeah, I really enjoy spending time with other like-minded individuals, sharing knowledge and getting drunk. :) I don’t regard sharing knowledge as teaching, just to clarify the previous comment.
We were both invited to Promised Land this year, and there were some nice topics thrown on the table during our group discussion. One of them was related to how the place of residence of an artist might affect his/her career. What is your experience in that sense?
Very true, depending on where you reside and some unions today, it can make it harder to work on some projects abroad. This is mostly film, though.
Any words of wisdom for aspiring artists living in countries without a strong connection with the industry?
If you’re serious about this, practice it as often as you can and share your work online...and if it doesn’t burn outta you, just wait or do something else. :)
Also, mandatory question: which project would you consider as your personal turning point, the one that made you feel you had made it to a next level (of skill, or professionally speaking).
I have had a few but nothing I can single out; suppose they have all assisted each other.
When it comes to getting your hands dirty with traditional sculpting, what is your weapon of choice?
Sculpty and I have been enjoying working with 3D printed molds and resins; it’s really good to play with your hands and step away from the PC.
Do you think it is important for 3D modelers to learn to work with their hands, as well?
Yes, nothing can relay the tactile feedback you get from feeling; as mentioned before this will assist your 3D work immensely, I believe.
Most of what I have seen of your work is 3D, although you have pretty decent 2D skills. Do you draw or paint for your own pleasure sometimes?
Thx. Yes, and will generally play with many techniques, as I get bored quickly. It’s fun for me to try new techniques and methods and think it’s important to try to stay motivated in your work.
Since you have worked for both fields, what do you find different between the games and the film industries? Do you feel more at home in either one of them?
Well, in games I have had a much larger career and I have done a variety of roles from concepts to the more technical game models and textures, which I enjoy (maybe not as much as just concepts), but it has helped me in designing better characters as I have a better understanding of the restrictions artists further in the pipeline will face.
In terms of portfolio building, what would you advise to artists willing to give the film industry a try?
Not sure you can just give it a try but I would focus on your own work and using established artist’s work as a benchmark to see what art directors in film expect within a tight timeframe, as most art directors want to see concepts ASAP…
What would you say to little Young Furio if you could speak to your younger self?
Done well at ignoring a lot of negative people, little dude, and don’t take things to personally. :)
You have been to many international events over the years. Have you appreciated any evolution in the community?
Yes, it’s good to see like-minded people all getting together over the years. I think it’s always good to meet people face to face and all these events have created a good platform for this.
Speaking of community, what's the situation in South Africa? Do you know much about it in other African countries? Mama Africa is a huge place, with an equally big potential for talent.
Yes, I get emails from many dudes around Africa wanting to work in film and asking for advice. Unfortunately for its size, many people don’t have access to the tools required or an industry to promote growth, which causes many capable artists to leave and find work abroad, which in turn does not help locally developing artists/companies or the situation in the country.
If it were up to you, what could be done to improve the situation and give emerging talent and young professionals over there a better chance?
Dunno, think the country has bigger issues to sort out before it can take building a CG industry seriously; although some big projects are filmed here, the studios tend to bring a lot of their own crew to work on projects.
On the other hand, competition and skill level in Europe and the US is getting increasingly higher. How does it affect established professionals, such as yourself?
I think it helps keep established artists on their toes and not allowing some to stagnate; having said that, many young artists who are good have bypassed many steps or might have little understanding of other processes/techniques required making them less efficient. Some things come with experience and time and are not easy to just learn.
That same increase in skill level and competition might feel imposing to younger artists still trying to land their first stable job. What would you say to them?
All it should do is show you it’s achievable if you want this bad enough but if you focus on negatives...negative you will be.
What do you think about the new digital sculpting tools, like Oculus? Even in their infancy, they already seem to be a game changer for many artists.
Yes, still feels like shaving cream to me but it’s hard to not see the future potential. For now, it’s hard for me to spend the same time with headgear as opposed to sitting for hours on Wacom but when hardware and software catch up, it will be hard to not move into that realm –like most things, it won’t make you a better artist though. :)
During that debate at Promised Land I thought, “Uh, this guy argues like a boxer!” You seem to have a strong personality and clear opinions about things; has this ever gotten you into conflict with someone you worked with?
All the time haha – it has its pros and cons but it’s my nature – being Italian and South African also adds to the mix. I have never been scared to share my opinions or thoughts, and I think I am willing to change ideas if proven wrong. Basically, if I have something to say I will say it to your face (I am not a yes man). Some of my bosses have really appreciated this no BS approach as it gives them a good idea of what’s happening in the trenches, for others I can see how it can come across abrasive – but just have a drink/smoke with me and we can sort it out. :)
Will you be attending any events next year? It'd be a nice chance to meet again.
Promised Land for sure – all those dudes have a special place in my heart, from their work ethic to the passion and professionalism they display in their games and at the event. Promised Land Art Festival 2019 is 1000% unless life gets in the way.
I think I have pestered you enough. It's been great, and hope to see you soon!
Not at all...thank you dude, appreciate the interview, say hello to the team and Happy New Year! :)
Portrait by Nikola Matkovic