Ep.2: On running art studio and living frugal lifestyle with Trent Kaniuga from Aquatic Moon

By Iva Mikles •  Updated: Sep 01, 2017 •  Interviews

Trent Kaniuga is the owner of Aquatic Moon, a boutique Atelier/Art House providing contract art services for industry leading video games.  With his team, he creates an excellent illustration and concept art for the worlds leading AAA software. They also develop their own IPs and are always looking for new opportunities to bring them to market.

Over the past 12 years, Trent has been a key contributing character and environment concept designer on World of Warcraft, Diablo 3, and League of Legends. Before that, he created comic books from Indies such as CreeD, and The Fuzz, to penciling Marvel projects like Ghost Rider.

In his free time, Trent is developing his own universe called Twilight Monk.

Get in touch with Trent

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Key Takeaways

“If you gonna do an interview on Art Side of Life, then do an interview on Art Side of Life with some freaking passion, maaan!, yeaaaah!”

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Special thanks to Trent for joining me today. See you next time!

All artworks by Trent Kaniuga, used with permission

Episode Transcript

Announcer  

Creative, artistic, happy! That’s you. There are endless possibilities for living a creative life. So let’s inspire each other. Art Side of Life interviews with Iva.

Iva Mikles  

Hello everyone and welcome to the next episode of Art Side of Life, where it’s all about how you can turn your creative patient into a profession. My name is Iva, and my guest today is highly accomplished concept artists, author and director from Orange County, California. When he was just 17 He started his own comic book company, publishing indie comics like creed, the first and working for Marvel on Ghost Rider. Over the past 12 years, he has been a key contributing character and environment concept designer on World of Warcraft, Diablo three and League of Legends. He’s an owner of a boutique art house called aquatic moon that provides contract art services for industry leading videogames. In his free time he’s developing his own universe called Twilight monk. So please welcome Trent Kanuga. And let’s get to the interview. Welcome everyone to the next episode of Art Side of Life. And I’m super excited to have trend here with us. So please, welcome. Hi. I would like to start with a background how you maybe go to art and if you remember, maybe first thing you drew as a kid.

Trent Kaniuga  

Oh, first thing I ever drew. Yeah.

Iva Mikles  

First thing you remember?

Trent Kaniuga  

Yeah. Okay. Okay. When I knew I wanted to do art. Yeah, I guess. So when I was a little kid, my brother and I were very competitive. And he, my grandmother gave us a book about how to draw cars. And so like it would teach you like, draw a cube. And then you kind of like, you imagine the 3d space and you draw a little car in there. And my brothers were awful. And I was like, determined, this is the one thing that I’m going to be better than my brother at. And so it was still awful, but at least like it showed a sense of depth, you know, and, and like, I think the next day at school, the teacher had asked us this is like third grade, the teacher had asked us like, hey, you know, draw a cowboy or something like that. And I had drawn the feet, a lot of other kids were drawing them like Flintstone style, the amount of talking about with the feet out, and I drew them like this. And the teacher was like, all the other kids laughed. Basically, they’re like, Oh, he’s got like, cliffs for feet or something. And, and all the elderly kids were laughing, but the teacher was like, what? Whoa, now? transactionally got something here, you see, because when the foot turns, you know, it for shortens. And so like, ever since then, I was like, Ah, you see? Yeah, like, I’ve got some insight into being an artist these other kids don’t have. And it was it just became sort of like my unique little thing. I guess. You know what I mean?

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. And so what was the this was on purpose, or something would happen kind of by accident was

Trent Kaniuga  

very intentional. It was sort of like I had set out to it was mostly out of competition with my brother, who was good at everything. And I just wanted to be like, I wanted to have my thing that made me if I couldn’t be stronger. He was my older brothers bigger than me. And, you know, we’re always competitive. And if I couldn’t be stronger, or faster, or you know, like, cooler or whatever, then at least I could have my thing. You know, the thing that made me different, you know what I mean? Yes, yeah. And I also was a rapper for a period of time, but anyway, we won’t go into that. Maybe you can. If they’re great. Yeah. No, I

Iva Mikles  

won’t hear it. No, no, no. So maybe what was the first conversation with you had with your parents where you kind of decided you want to do this, like professionally?

Trent Kaniuga  

Oh, man. So when I was in high school, I picked up my first comic book when I was 13 years old. And it was like old Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, comics and old Todd McFarlane, Spider Man comics. And, and I was I just loved it, you know, like, I could stay up all night. And I just, I would trace it or like, you know, copy it, and just try to emulate what I was seeing. And then about two years later, you know, I started hanging out with other comic kids and high school and an art class and stuff. And we just started like, we were always drawing Hey, man, I got a new comic idea. You know, it’s like, it was just some derived like copy of our favorite comics. And my mom, I went to my mom, I was about 1415 years old. I went to my mom, I was like, I think I want to do art, like for a job. And like, this is what I want to do. And she’s like, No, no, no, you don’t want to be an artist. You want to be like a TV repairman or something because people will always have TVs you got to think like what will people want? That makes stance, right, yeah. But I’m glad I did that route. I took route. My friends and I, we, we, we went to a local comic book store and we asked the guy running the shop, like how do you order your comics? You know, we were 15 years old. And we were like, how do you order your comics because we wanted to make comics. And he was like, well, we order him from these distributor magazines. And, and, and this was before the internet. So we were like, can you? Could you help us to publish a comic? And he’s like, Sure. So we started an indie comic book company when I was 15 years old. By the time I was, yeah, so by the time I was 17 years old, I was making a living, I was still in high school drawing comic books professionally. I did a an indie comic called creed, which, like, that’s one of the last copies that I still have in mint condition. Books, okay. Sign, okay. No, but so like I was, I was still in high school drawn pages, and my teachers would like, sometimes I’d get busted, and my teachers would crinkle up my, my pages, and I’m like, This is my work. This is my job, you know, and they’d be like, comics aren’t a real art form. Comics aren’t a job. I had a cool art teacher, though, who encouraged me, but ever all of my other teachers really didn’t. And then a wizard, wizard magazine, which was a very prominent comic book magazine in 1993. They did a write up on me about and they sent it film crew to my high school. So you can imagine like, overnight, I was kind of like this cool kid draw for comics, which was a weird thing. It’s like, I don’t know. So everybody knew who I was, I think at that time in my school, and life suddenly got a lot cooler. And it was, for me, it was very, like, my comics were very kind of, I was an emo kid, you know, got us a lot of like, kind of sappy poetry. And, and a lot of people wrote to me and told me, like, they really relate it to this, you know what I mean? So, for the first time in my life, I felt like, I connect with people doing something that’s expressive and uniquely me remember that thing about like, my brother like, this is the way that I was stood out as a unique individual. And so it was very gratifying. And it solidified that, like, I’m going to be doing comics. And then of course, there was like licensing deals, we had a toy deal and trading cards. And it was like, on the phone with Disney representatives, like talking about licensing opportunities. I was like, at 17, say, oh, like, I’m doing, I’m doing art for a living. Like, there’s no question at that point. It was like, This is what I’m going to do.

Iva Mikles  

And so how did you kind of handle that? Because you were really young. And there was also like, a lot of pressure. And so what was going through your head at that time?

Trent Kaniuga  

Well, I think when you’re like 17, you just feel invincible, right? Like, you feel like, what kind of messed with me, and I’m glad it didn’t last, that kind of attention. Because, like you get, like recognized when you go around town or something, because it was like a local, well known artists, it was in the newspaper all the time, and TV and stuff. And so like, I think it was, it was good for me to like, lose that, because I was starting to get really cocky about my ideas, just thinking, my ideas. It’s my brain, I’m special. You’re not I mean, you’re 17. And you start to like, believe that. No, like, I’m really so unique, that people are finally recognizing how unique and special I am. And so I kind of got a little bit of an ego even though it’s really socially awkward. So it’s always dancing between being overly cocky and confident and being like, feeling like, I suck, I’m terrible. And you know, and then the comic book industry just collapsed around 9697. And it was a real wake up call for me to, like, you know, try to be I guess, a real person and try to be like, I don’t know, it really helped me like, it was tough times, I tend to look back on the toughest times in my life and realize, now that was really good for me to develop. And when I started working in games, and much later, it was I’m going to jump around a little bit here. But it was, it was much better for me to be a part of a team and learn a little bit of like, playing my special role in a bigger picture, rather than it being about me and actually prefer to generally not have it about me, you know, when I started a team, a studio.

Iva Mikles  

And so when you were talking about the difficult time and challenging moments, what was maybe the biggest takeaway you kind of learned from this area, or time

Trent Kaniuga  

Oh, like when, when the comic book thing collapsed?

Iva Mikles  

Or maybe what was your most difficult time of your career? If this is the

Trent Kaniuga  

I would say that was probably it? Yeah, long before I even started working in games was when the comic book industry collapsed. And, and it was interesting because I was working on I had gone to work at Marvel for a period of time and I had done a series called ghost writer. And it was like right before the whole collapse happened and I had done I had done This six or seven issues on ghostwriter. I was like in the wizard top 10 artists and it was like the height of my career. And then like six months later, I had gone to like I had stopped doing that series and I tried to do an indie thing. And about six months later, I gone to a Comic Con. And I was like, I was still doing comics. And I remember going up to like a couple of booths and showing my new artwork. And they’re like, Have you ever drawn a comic book before? And it was like, I just spent like eight years building a whole career just like it reached the pinnacle of my career. And then six months later, completely forgotten. And, and it crushed me. And what it taught me to answer your question, what it taught me is to diversify dramatically. So I don’t just like art is just one of the things that I do. So concept art for games, one of the things that I do, I am an aspiring, I’m not saying I’m any good at writing books, but I write many novels, you know, I try to tell stories, you know, with characters always constantly creating characters. I’m an amateur programmer, like I’m making a bunch of different little indie game projects, I’m diversifying with like, you know, learning 3d skills and working with just all different tools all the time. And I tend to be very spread thin because of that, but I’ll never have a day that I’m unemployable. Do you know what I mean? Yeah, I can do so many things. I could do particle effects that can do 3d models. I can, you know, texture render, like, set up lighting. I’m not particularly amazing at any of these things. I wouldn’t even say as an artist, like, that’s, it’s probably the thing I get paid to do. But it’s it’s not the thing that I feel is like my greatest strength. You know, yeah, the greatest strength is, is probably my greatest strength is probably more along the lines of interfacing with artists, management type stuff, managing projects.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, yeah, definitely. Because so if you think about your brand, or the vision, you’re trying to communicate through your work, how do you keep the consistent branding through all of your projects? Or how do you approach this?

Trent Kaniuga  

I don’t. I know that sounds like a weird answer. But I like my YouTube channel is really just like a peek into my art studio. It’s like one week, I might be making models. The next you know, one of my some of my videos, I’m just playing my favorite game from a few years back and kind of talking about how it inspires me. It’s like, I guess in terms of like, what my brand is, I guess is sort of like this kind of streetfighter come through character kind of thing. That’s just what I’m doing right now. You know, it’s always going to change. I mean, I’m already kind of thinking about my next IP and how I want to develop that and, but for everything for for Twilight monk really kind of goes along those lines, very light art heavy. And I think that I’m always sort of trying different things. It’s like 80%, of what I know, people kind of want to see from me, and about 20% of something new and different that I’m challenging myself with trying to achieve.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. And so you mentioned like, when you are creating your new IP, how is the thinking process? Or what is maybe something you can share? Like, maybe you do brainstorm, or you have this vision, and then you sit with your team, and how does this look like?

Trent Kaniuga  

It happens completely naturally. It’s like, I I don’t set out with the intention to create a new IP, it’s like something happens and it’s like, like a I guess like with Twilight monk, I finally feel like I’m getting to really know these characters. And I finally have that that like the beat points of like, the characters progression and what his character story arc is. And it’s finally coming to a close and I’ve already sort of just become inspired by something else that I want. So it’s always in the back of my mind of like, oh, no, those those story ideas are for this other character. And these story ideas are for this character. And a lot of what Twilight monk was for a long time was just everything smashed together. But now it’s become a lot more cohesive, especially with the release of the world of Twilight monk art book, and it’s like, it’s a digital art book, but it’s a it’s a cohesive kind of a compendium, you know, and it’s got a lot more of like all of the ideas that work for that universe in this one self contained, kind of a collection and the new stuff if it doesn’t fit into that if I have like a character idea or something like that. It goes into like the might you know, the Notes app on an iPhone. I don’t know if you have an iPhone, but like there’s a Notes app. It’s like 3000 pages of various just like idea for an indie game like it’s like, just like the brief little moments of it. And a lot of times that happens while I’m having dinner with my wife or like, what would just be we go for a lot of walks with my dog, Rambo, which I was telling you about. And like just walking around the neighborhood We’re gonna be talking about like a social thing we talk a lot about, like sociology and psychology. And a lot of my ideas derive from those kinds of studies and those interests, you know, theology, sociology,

Iva Mikles  

that kind of, is it Rambo in one of your games or books?

Trent Kaniuga  

No. Well, I’ve done a couple of paintings of them on my YouTube channel. But no, no, no, he hasn’t worked his way in yet. But it would be it would be I did do one drawing one time I was thinking of doing this story of like this, like Space Pirate guy who cruises around with his dog human. It’s like, he’s like half human half dog. Just cruising through space with his dog, you know, like a dog in a space suit. I did like this doodle of it. And it’s just like backburner. Okay, Sunday. Good. Good. Like, it’s on my mind. I just don’t know exactly like, where to fit him in. Exactly. Yeah. Like I said, I don’t, I don’t try to plan too much like that. And things. I let like, my creative process is very fluid. And it’s probably even a little bit hard to like, keep up with I tend to be a little scattered. And I think that that’s the biggest challenge for people who follow my work is like you were talking about branding? And it’s like, well, people who follow my work probably get a little frustrated sometimes. Because it’s like, okay, so he’s making an indie game about Twilight monk, well, where is it? And it’s like, well, I scrapped it and started over four times, because I have to learn to program and or I start partnering with a different, you know, person to develop it. And then it’s like, well, the direction totally changes. And I tried to not really announce things until they’re like, this is about to come out. But sometimes I just get so excited, I have to share it.

Iva Mikles  

And so how do you actually do the networking? Or, you know, you work on so many cool projects? So maybe like some advice for young people? How can they find new paid projects? Or get to know people?

Trent Kaniuga  

Oh, that’s a? That’s a good question. I think that it’s different depending on where you are in your career. For me, I don’t really try and that works out pretty well. For me, the reason is, because I’ve just kind of worked on so many different things, I would say that, like, my only requirement with that with myself is to try to do the best work that I can do for everyone that I work with. And then word spreads to other people that oh, these you know, working with Aquatic moon, these guys do great work and and they’re timely, professional and communicate well. And if I can always, you know, kind of keep that standard for myself, jobs tend to come around to me, I do, I tend to have more of a shortage of artists than on my team than a shortage of jobs coming in. So usually, a lot of times a lot of the companies that I work with, I mean, I’m working with Blizzard, I’m working with riot, I’m working with Sony PlayStation, like, these are companies that I’ve worked for or worked with in the past, or I go to a lot of one thing that I would definitely recommend to anybody working in this field is like to go to GDC or Pax or E three, go to all of these shows primarily the ones where developers are at and mingle, you have to be sort of fearless. And it’s totally okay to just start a conversation with a stranger at a, you know, at an online at a party or at the coffee shop, Hey, are you in town for GDC? What do you do? You know, oh, I’m like, I’m a artist, whatever I do, you know, and like, oh, you know, if the conversation goes, well, then you know, then you talk about the work that you’ve got and what you do. But you have to be careful to not sell yourself. One of the things I noticed is like if I tried to sell myself, like for a while, I had a friend of mine who was in HR. And he was like, because I was saying I really want to work with don’t want to do contracts on this, like, Mass Effect, or whatever it was. And he’s like, Well, you shouldn’t be emailing them all the time, you should be emailing these guys and emailing those guys. And I was like, Okay, I’ll try that. And I tried it. It was super awkward. And I wrote out these emails that were so like, professional and stuff. And it’s like, we’ve worked on this, this and this. And our philosophy is blah, blah, blah. And we’d love to work with you and talk about rates and blah, blah, blah and like and then of course you just don’t get any call back. And this is like, I mean, I can’t even tell you how many triple A games I’ve shipped and it’s like really huge. But it’s because I’m doing a cold call on to somebody, I’m I’m trying to sell them something is what it kind of comes across like and, and they don’t generally go for that. It’s like the generally like, the best kind of gigs that I found are usually when they’re coming to me anyway. So and for some reason, I don’t know how it’s happened this way. The universe is just sort of unfolded in a fashion whereby as soon as one job ends, I get a call from some new studio that I’ve never worked with before and they’re like, Hey, are you in your team available? And it’s like, well, just so happens that we are, I don’t know, you must have got the university’s phone call too. Because, you know, like, I don’t know how that’s happened. Maybe it’s just because like, ever since I, a few years back, I started taking more of a philosophy of hands off the wheel and like, not trying to shape the world the way I want it to be. I’m not trying to like, work on that one game that I want to work on. But like, just do the do the thing that I love to do put it out on the internet and things like, if I’m doing a lot of Zelda pieces, I’m hoping eventually I shouldn’t even say it out loud. Some some dude who’s making a Zelda light game is gonna call me and he’d be great for this. Yeah, I would love that. So just pursuing my passions, and then the universe sort of like lays out this road along the route of my passions that I don’t, it’s when I try to do something. Like, I guess, like, if I tried to paint photo, realistically, I might do it as an experiment. But that’s not really where my passion is. So it’s, it’s going to be transparent in my work. And ultimately, the universe will not unfold in that direction, it’ll unfold in the direction of where I actually am passionate.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, so basically doing what you love, and then be ready to open the door if there is that opportunity.

Trent Kaniuga  

Yeah, yeah. And it just kind of keeps happening pretty well, in that way. So yeah, and

Iva Mikles  

I really like also the how you mentioned the networking, because like, also, if you meet someone as a relationship, right, you don’t ask them right away to marry you. So you kind of try to get to know them. And

Unknown Speaker  

yeah, sometimes it can, like some people can be very awkward about it. Like, they’ll walk up and kind of like they’re like trying to, you know, like, here, here, here’s my portfolio, like, look at look at my portfolio like, and it’s like, Dude, you first of all, you’re on your phone. That’s not the best way to present your portfolio. Second of all, it’s a you know, it’s rude. It’s like, yeah, it’s like literally going up to somebody and saying, Hey, you want to get married? Or something? Like, you know, wine and dine me first? You know? Yeah, exactly.

Iva Mikles  

Just

Trent Kaniuga  

at least take me out for coffee. Yeah, and so sometimes, I think that’s, that’s kind of a key thing. For people that are kind of just starting out. I think it’s the most kind of going back to your question. Because you’re asking like for your audience, the thing that they would probably want to know the most is like, you know, do get a job at any studio, indie studio, mobile studio, any studio where you can kind of do the role that you’re passionate about. And that will lead to the next stepping stone. I mean, I had applied to Blizzard maybe eight times. And it wasn’t until I had shipped a PS two game at Capcom, which wasn’t a huge studio, it was kind of a, a small studio, maybe 20 or 30. Developers. And it was after we had shipped a game, it was like, Oh, you’re a professional. We’ll write right this way, sir. Let’s let’s take a look at your portfolio. And it wasn’t it wasn’t that easy. But you understand what I mean? Yeah, and the doors will open. If you just take the smaller opportunities. I know a lot of artists that will just go for Blizzard or just go for Riot, and they won’t settle for anything less. And it’s like, dude, maybe you get some chops first, maybe show that you know what you’re doing before you go and try to, you know, like, jump on this. You know, this this? I mean, it’s a massive machine now. Yeah, both of those.

Iva Mikles  

Because also just to learn how to work professionally, in a time frame deadlines in a team and teamwork and all of these things.

Trent Kaniuga  

Yeah, it’s a kind of a requirement with artists that I hire, they have to have, they got to have some in house experience, even if it’s only like, you worked for six months, and it didn’t work out for whatever reason, at least, because then there’s also the understanding the true real life understanding of the professional expectations that are going to be required of you.

Iva Mikles  

And what yeah, sorry,

Unknown Speaker  

I was gonna say, because a lot of people come into this industry thinking that you do, like, you draw whatever the heck you want. And then the art director just goes, Oh, everybody just gathers around and gives you the slow clap because you did this cool painting, and then it goes in the game. And then when the interview team comes around for the DVD, behind the scenes, whatever, like you’re right there front and center, and it ain’t really like that man, like you go through a lot of I don’t want to go into it, it’s a long thing. But working in house can be very, very, very hard work. A lot of reworking your designs, a lot of getting your designs shot down a lot of you go through a lot of internal emotional things with personal value. When when you’re working especially on a triple A game, something that’s like highly anticipated like Diablo three was for example, you know, there’s a lot of stresses and pressures and you have to have a strong inner game to be able to handle those situations. And you get thrown into that as a young guy who’s never or lady who’s never worked in the industry before and it’s gonna you might just quit and go screw this. I can’t handle it, you know, and then there’s the politics of things and You’re dealing with some ego sometimes and you’re dealing with people who are hotshot, you know, celebrity game developers and things like that. Yeah.

Iva Mikles  

And what do you think? Like how how people should learn to take feedback? Because that’s also part of that.

Trent Kaniuga  

Yeah. Well, I think that there’s there’s a, I It’s funny is that I just did a video about it for my channel. But just about portfolio rejections specifically, but like when you’re when you’re, when your work is being evaluated by an art director. First of all, you have to ask yourself, you know, what are his What’s that person’s his or her values, like if they’re really into anime art, and you’re giving them like Brom photo, or photo but like painterly, oil painted looking fantasy are, they’re gonna judge it differently than somebody who loves what you’re doing, you know what I mean. And so it’s important to not attach your personal worth, to how your work is being received, you know, some people are just going to love peanut butter, ice cream, and other people are going to hate peanut butter ice cream, you know what I mean? Some people are going to love your your flavor, other people are not going to love your flavor. So it really matters. what the situation is, if you’re in house, and it’s an art director, you really have to try to understand and embrace what the goals of the team are, and what the direction of the team is with the team and the art director or feeling you want to really try to vibe with your group. So you can make a team effort. Think of yourself as a player on a sports team, you know, if you’ve got that role to play, they got to know they can count on you to do your part, you know? And if you’re not, then you might have to really challenge yourself to grasp it. And if you really ask yourself like, I just don’t love that I can’t do this role, then you got to consider a different job. Yeah, I know, tough decision to make. I’ve been in that situation.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. Because how would you decide what is maybe the best for you when you are like because you’ve worked for big studios, you’ve worked on your own and now we are running your own? Maybe what are the advantages and disadvantages? What you can mention?

Trent Kaniuga  

Well, I mean, I have absolute freedom. I work from anywhere in the world. I did three weeks in Thailand last year. And I would work during the hottest hours of the day from my hotel room. And then we got a motorcycle and we cruise around on the beach, out in Thailand and like go up to the Giant Buddha statues and like, check out all the monasteries and things like that. And like that was really cool. So working as a contractor working as a freelancer, all of my my artists have this kind of level of freedom, you know, all the people that I work with have this level of freedom is the only thing that’s required is that we’re self reliant enough to be responsible for the NDA of the which is like the secrecy of the privacy of the client. I don’t work on things that are sensitive materials and public places, you know, for example, but if I’m doing like, I’m sponsored by Sketchbook Pro. So I do these paintings for Sketchbook Pro, I think they would appreciate me being out in coffee shops showing off their software people come up to me, Hey, what are you doing? Let me tell you about, you know, but if it’s something for like, for instance, we also do a lot of like sprays for Overwatch or, you know, some concept art for Overwatch, we don’t work on that in public places, because it’s highly sensitive. The other advantages are setting our own schedule, so any one of my artists at any time they can go, hey, you know, I’ve got a personal thing next week, I can’t work. You know, as long as I know about it in advance, I only ever asked that people do what they say they’re going to do. So you know, you’re telling me you’re going to be working next week, I expect that tell me you can’t be you know, for some reason, and it’s not last minute, then you know, it’s fine, I just need to be responsible. And we sort of have that level, I make sure that the guys that I’m working with are at that level. And there’s a lot of times when I gotta fill in, you know, some sometimes that can be a downside, you know, is like, I guarantee that that work will be delivered on time, to the quality that the the client expects, how it gets done really doesn’t matter. And if my artists are happier, and they have a greater sense of personal satisfaction in their work, they’re burned out, they take a little break, it’s fine, I got another artist that can help out. Do you know what I mean? So it’s very rewarding in the sense that I’m I’m rewarded, and my team is rewarded based on what how much hard work we’re putting into what we’re doing for doing great work. You know, I’ll give my artists bonuses, you know, almost every time if they’re, if they’re, if the clients happy, make sure that they’re, you know, treated well. And, and that’s, that’s probably the biggest advantage of working independently, you know, and it’s also why I don’t really necessarily want to have a centralized location or grow it too big, or have this big conglomerate. We don’t want to be massive black or we don’t want to be, you know, one of these art houses that has a singular location even though we don’t have opportunities with companies like EA A for instance, because of that, we have a lot of security requirements. But we’re, we have a lot of independence and a lot of freedom. And ultimately, that makes us I think, more creative. And it keeps our quality up. And it keeps all the team feeling a greater sense of satisfaction that I got, you know, guys that live in, in Europe, I have guys living all over the world that I work with. And we have a lot of Skype calls and a lot of panning over each other’s work and, and everything is labeled as aquatic moon, they can do their personal work, I do my personal work, but everything’s labeled as the team, because it’s a team effort. That’s what we’re working on together.

Iva Mikles  

And so how do you manage to pull all of this together? Do you have like specific tools you use? Like some software or something? Maybe you purchased? You know, or did you develop it by yourself? Which simplifies your life?

Trent Kaniuga  

I’ve created an AI that tells me it reminds me when to eat? No, it’s really not that it’s not as complex as most people. Some people will overcomplicated. Some people will use Trello. Or, like, I work with different guys who weren’t want to work with different software. And if a client specifically says we want to work with that software, okay, no problem will adapt to that. But meanwhile, I can’t commit to any one of those. I just have like a, I literally have a calendar on my MacBook. And it says what’s what’s on the list? What’s on the schedule? Who’s working on what, when it’s due? And And if something is falling behind? I work out that schedule and early enough in advance that I can take care of it. Yeah. So I mean, it’s really not any more complex than the Calendar app on the Mac. It could be but it isn’t.

Iva Mikles  

And what about like, if, then someone is like, Oh, wow, this sounds so great. And they would love to work with you what they should do and how they should start maybe?

Trent Kaniuga  

Yeah, all that information is up on the, on my website. It’s aquatic hyphen, noon.com. And every now and then we’re looking for different people, you know, different for different roles, you know? But yeah, there’s, there’s more information on exactly what those requirements are on the on the website.

Iva Mikles  

Perfect. So we’ll put the link into the show notes so people can check it out. That’d be great. Yeah. And what about maybe some some books or something people should read what you would recommend, like, maybe learning or it can be also like business related is like a book you give to people as a gift.

Trent Kaniuga  

Oh, yeah. My favorite book. It was given to me actually by the Art Manager on Hearthstone. But my favorite book is called The Untethered Soul. And it’s, it’s more of a spiritual book. But it’s, it’s really about letting go, you know, earlier I was talking about, you know, not trying to define my expectations for what the future will hold and how that’s actually freed me, it’s liberated me in so many ways, from expectations and stresses and frustrations. And, you know, because it’s really, it’s not that, oh, I didn’t get that job at that, at that studio. I wanted that can be frustrating. It’s the idea that it’s the wanting, or the expectation that I would if I follow all these steps, if I follow all these things, then I am supposed to get that, that thing, right. And then you get frustrated or disappointed and quit or you, you just you live in a state of being angry that the world didn’t deliver to you something that you expected. And ultimately, that’s the enemy. It’s sort of like our ego, it’s our it’s our desire for this expectation, or it’s even the pursuit of happiness sometimes, which is a challenge. And so this book is really about that. It’s from an author named Michael singer. I do highly recommend this particular book. I have different recommendations for different things. You know, if you’re getting into writing recently, I’ve been reading a lot of Robert McKee Blake Snyder type of stuff, you know, four story structure and it’s interesting I wrote like 40 Comics without ever reading a single book about how to write a story. And now now that I’m not really doing books, like comics anymore, I’m reading a lot more about story structure and finding that there’s actual liberation and finding some some structure and some system to creating an emotional reaction from an audience. Yeah,

Iva Mikles  

yeah. And do you do maybe something daily which contributes to your success, maybe like meditation or something?

Trent Kaniuga  

No, I My artwork is my meditation. I’m most at peace when I can just take like two or three hours to shut off everything else. Turn off my phone, turn off Skype, turn off any interruptions and just put on some like 70s Psychedelic guitar. Nuts kidding. I love that stuff. Oh, I listened to a lot of Alan Watts. If you’re familiar, he was kind of a public speaker, Eric, he did what he wrote a lot of books about, kind of East Eastern and Western theology and psychology. Back in ash, I think like the 70s, you know, late 60s, early 70s, he was doing a lot of these, and there’s tons of recordings on YouTube for that. So, you know, I guess that relaxes me a lot. But mostly, it’s just it’s painting, finding a little zone, a little quiet time put on like a, if people buy my, my Gumroad videos, a lot of times I’ll hear like the Zen meditation music, I’ll actually put that on while I’m painting. To me. It’s, it’s like this, this quiet space where I’m just trying to reach a kind of a state of, of, of just like no mind, like, you’re not not worrying about anything. You’re not thinking about anything. You’re just feeling that moment, Bruce Lee kind of did this, he would train, you know, he’d do like, oh, no, like these moves, you know, you’d have that like wooden thing, I’m gonna do this. But in the moment of an actual fight. He, he was blank, he just reacted, you know, he was he was retrained to react. And then, in the moment of reaction, it was like, fluid, who’s not bound by some structure be became unpredictable. And I guess I have adopted a little bit of that, that mindset. So my meditation and the thing that I do daily is, and the thing that relaxes me is just drawing, or in the evenings, I do play to play games, I tried to set aside like, a half an hour to an hour every, every day or so although lately not as much I’ve been too busy.

Iva Mikles  

So that’s kind of like research. So you can say that’s work still.

Trent Kaniuga  

It’s still working. But no, but it is. I mean, sometimes, sometimes, like, especially if you play a lot of like older games, there’s something that like the way developers used to think in the 90s as game developers, and in the early 2000s, there was a way that game developers used to think about fantasy that was completely lost now. And, and there’s so there’s so many rich ideas and inspiration and like playing through Final Fantasy 12 Right now, which is, it’s a remaster. And there’s just so many really amazing ideas for design pattern, work structures, cities, creature designs, the concept artists, or the art director for that project was Akihiko Yoshida. And he would design all these creatures, it was like the best Mughals ever, they’d have armor on. And like all these, the story that was told, and a lot of times, I’ll just be playing this game, and I just stop and look around at what I’m looking at, and absorb. Like, oh my god, that guy, his armor is like wearing the same it has the same symbols as like the, you know, this emblem on the on this door, right? Right next to him, you know, or something like that. And that, like, there’s this connection. And there’s, there’s a story that’s told in every detail. So I’m actually looking at the design the concept of what I’m what I’m observing, and absorbing that into, you know, my own subconscious mind. So that when I’m sitting down to do a character design, all those things are right at the forefront of my of my, my mind, you know,

Iva Mikles  

yeah, because you do these probably in the games as well, when you have the design on the outfit, in the village or in the town setting. And basically, everywhere around so you kind of can do the connections.

Trent Kaniuga  

Yeah, there’s, I mean, a good concept artist is a storyteller. You know, I would say, like, there’s so many things, we could probably do a four hour podcast about just talking about one zone for Diablo three, you know what I mean? Like, there’s so many subtle little story elements in every little piece. And sometimes the art director or a, you know, the modeler or the environment, artists will like, he’ll pick, like, cherry pick your ideas, he’ll go, like, oh, no, no, I like this thing, but I don’t like this other thing. And so sometimes that story gets a little bit like, like, it’s got the, you know, the, the spoon without the bowl. Kind of a thing. But, but that’s also I mean, in some ways, adds to the story of, of the universe, that the player doesn’t even realize that they’re seeing, you know, and that’s, I think the sign of good concept art is when it like, like a good soundtrack, you know, a good soundtrack you don’t recognize you don’t realize it until you’re humming the tune year later. And it’s like wow, that was really powerful I think concept are is like good design, good, good character design good environment concept. You know, it it’s it speaks a story without words. You know?

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, definitely. Do you also go for locations when you’re designing you know, the characters like if you want to have it set in Norway, and kind of like feel to research?

Trent Kaniuga  

I do. I mean, I love that you know, I love to travel and I have like, kind of pulled a lot from various you know, trips that we’ve taken, you know, my wife says I’m always taking pictures of tree bark and like, like little patterns on like architecture, you know? Yeah. And last year, my wife and I went to Germany and we went to Hamburg. And we went to Munich. And we did the romantic Road, which is like this. We actually went out to a famous castle called nice Feinstein, which was, like the Disney princess castle, the quintessential Disney princess castle. And but it was the original, you know, and it was so just very mind boggling ly it. I’m not saying this, right. It was just, it blew my mind. Absolutely. Like, we went through a little town called Rottenberg. And Ron Burge is like, it literally is playing The Witcher a month later. And so it’s like, Oh, my God, I feel like I’m visiting this town, because it is literally like almost one to one built exactly like this, where they had like the stone wall around the outside of the town, but it was modern. So like, you’d see, you’d walk up there, it was like a shortcut to get around town, you walk up through the wall around, we don’t have this in the United States. So I mean, I know in Europe, there’s a lot of, there’s still a lot of this kind of stuff. But in the US, we do not have anything like this. So for me, it was amazing to go up into that wall and like walk around, you’d see like graffiti or like, this is clearly a spot where teenagers go to make out. And then you look over the side, and there’s like, you know, somebody’s got like a pool in their backyard or something. And so it’s very modern, mixed with, you know, very, very, very old. Like, I think 600 or 800 year old structures. I don’t know how old exactly Rottenberg was I forgotten? But yeah, all that stuff definitely inspires, like, what I’m what I’m doing, and, and I don’t, I don’t paint it one to one. When I’m traveling, I tried to be present with my my wife, but I do take a lot of pictures and commit it to the memory. And I think somebody was I forget who was saying it. But when, when you’re, as an artist, when you start looking at the world from the perspective of a concept artist, or even, you know, as an illustrator, instead of just like, looking at it and dismissing it, a lot of times, people will just sort of like they’ll go to a movie and not have much to say about it afterwards. Oh, I liked it. I didn’t like it. But I think the analytical mind of a creative person has to dig in deeper. The creative mind of an ad of a creative person, or the analytical mind of a creative person has to kind of like memorize, you know, how many legs are on that type of insects? And like, you know, what were the plot points in the beats in that story. And like, what were the, you know, whatever their interests are, obsession is, you know, like, Illustrator, so are rarely good with lighting, constantly paying attention to the light in every situation, you know what I mean? And that’s what’s kind of awesome about like, you sit down and talk to artists of different types and, and find appreciation for people who don’t paint like you or draw like you. And you begin to find like, Oh my God, and that’s kind of, I think, what your show is about, right? It’s like, you find out oh, my God, this this person is like obsessed with, you know, this. Just the way that like, subsurface scattering works on different materials. And that’s not my thing. But I can, you know, I you’re hanging out with somebody like this, and you’ll be walking down like a hiking trail, and they’ll just stop and just be like, no, like, can you see how this is refracting? Like here and here? And like, oh, wow, you know, totally different perspective. And I think there’s, there’s so much value in in expanding, I think the human experience is all about that. It’s all about kind of picking up what others appreciate. And beginning to see the bigger picture now of how mean life is about I think appreciating those things. And artists kind of get to absorb it. And we sort of become obsessed with recreating it you know?

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, because as you mentioned as well the castle visit then we yeah, we have a lot of castles. I actually grew up just next to a castle.

Trent Kaniuga  

You’re like yeah, castles Princess castles? Yeah, sure. is cool.

Iva Mikles  

Is the German one the nosh by Stein because that one is like really cool. But yeah, so. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, it’s really nice. And also like, you have a lot of cool castles when you go to war and like France, that area around the river and so a lot of cute towns and so there is like lots of places to see for sure. And what I wanted to ask was about them the observation How did you learn to do the observation, not so much the craft of the illustration and all of it? Did you have a mentor or someone who inspired you how to do this?

Trent Kaniuga  

No, I wouldn’t say that. You know, anyone taught me how to paint or draw. I mostly I am completely self taught. I never went to college for it. There were no schools for concept art in the 90s when I was Going to college. So completely self taught. And as I said before, like I had already established that I was going to do comic books. So there was the Joe Kubert School of comic book artists and I wanted to go there, but I couldn’t afford it, I grew up very, very poor. So it wasn’t really a lot of things weren’t really an option for me, I had to kind of try to, to learn any way that I could. So I picked up books like gotcha, you know, I would, I would kind of copy a lot of artists that I really admired. You know, and I would pick up any books on like, sketching, anatomy and things like that. But I was never really all that even obsessed with, you know, drawing anatomy, you know, like, I was much more interested in the story. And for me, like art was always really just a tool to tell stories, you know, more than it was, you know, a craft in and of itself, I guess it wasn’t ever the pursuit, it’s like pictures happened to tell the story better. So, I wouldn’t say that there was I’ve had several mentors for different things. You know, I’ve had mentors for business, I’ve had mentors for management, I’ve had many mentors, for different things in personal development, things like that, but not not anyone that that, like taught me, hey, here’s how you draw this thing, or here’s how you do a study, or here’s how you improve at this thing. It was really just, and nowadays, like, I guess, maybe I kind of entered the art world at the perfect time, because now we have YouTube. And it’s like, in the last four years, it’s insane how many artists you can look up and like, learn a little thing from here and there, you know, just and then YouTube itself will shuffle them and like, grab another artist, and then you’re like, keep that on in the background. And it’s like, hey, oh, new tip. Oh, how did you do that? All right, let’s check out, apply that to what I do. So now, you know, you’re gonna you’re gonna see all this knowledge and information compounded, like times 50, you know, and you’re gonna see artists that are so good. That it’s, I mean, maybe it’ll go the other way, maybe it’ll become abstract and like an abstract thing. You know, instead of trying to emulate realism, or go into a kind of, maybe styles will change they always do. I’m getting off tangent. Mentors, really just had to, like, observe what was going on. And this does tie in actually, because I’ve always just sort of like watched whether or what other people are doing what pursued the things that I loved. And I kind of go, I wonder if I could do that, you know, like, it’s the same way that I do with like, that I do it with like writing novels. It’s like, I’m not particularly good at it. But, you know, I read a couple of really good novels. And I was like, I think I could figure this out, if I just apply myself. And then the more you passionate you get about it, the more information and knowledge you absorb. And then you sort of find your voice and things. And and when I wanted to work at Blizzard, I started drawing a little bit more like Blizzard, and then they were like, oh, no, you’re perfect. Okay, you know, it just kind of happened to work out that way. When I wanted to draw more in the Marvel style years and years ago, I just kind of like, found some artists that I really liked at Marvel, and I try to kind of do a little bit more of what they do, but bring in what I do best into that arena. And always try to I think that was kind of a big part of it was always trying to isolate like what am I already really strong at. And as I said before, I kind of apply about 80% of what I know, I can do well, and then about 20% of really challenging myself and pushing myself to do something that I no idea how to do, whether it’s a technique and a singular painting, like terrible with drawing reflective surfaces. So okay, I’ll do 20% of reflective surfaces, you know, just challenge myself and then eventually I get better at it. And then it’s like, oh, Transcat reflective surfaces and everything now, or something like

Iva Mikles  

and so now you have so many different like projects as well, as you mentioned before, so how do you combine your income streams? What is your main income? Probably the studio and maybe if you can mention, like, what do you leave from what how does the picture look like?

Trent Kaniuga  

That’s a tough question. It’s very personal question. I would say I mean, obviously, you know, contract work pays well. You know, if you are managing your finances well, I think it’s, I’m sort of a minimalist I, I’ve always, I learned very early on as a comic book artists to sock away money. But there was one time I had to, like move back in with my parents because I got this huge paycheck when I was like 16 years old. 17 years old. I got like this huge paycheck for doing my very first comic book. It was a lot of money for a teenager to be making off of one book. And I spent it all I bought all the toys I could never afford. I was 17 and 1617 years old. I was like bought all the GI Joes. I never had a bottle video games that ever wanted and the PlayStation just came out so I bought a PlayStation, you know, and I was I just spent it all I went to college and then I buy stuff for my friends all the time and just take trips. and things like that. And then I had to move back in with my parents because they didn’t sock any of it away. And then you know, the the money coming in just started getting smaller and smaller until it was like, Oh my god. So I learned at a very young age before I even really entered the adult world of you know, like being a professional artist to sock money away, prepare for the the winter all the time. And so I live very affordably I don’t buy a lot of unnecessary things. I save, cut out coupons. And I sign up for the Starbucks Rewards program so that I can get free copies now and then. So because my point is is like, even though I don’t have to do this, these things living frugally allows me to not worry about where my next you know, am I going to make the bills next month, you know, it’s completely unnecessary for me to live this way. But sometimes going without makes you really appreciate. That’s one thing. And the second thing is and to elaborate on that point a little bit more, if you ever, like skip lunch, that dinner that you eat, whatever you eat is going to tastes so good. Do you know what I mean? Like because you’re going without for a little while, then you get something and it’s like, oh my god, this is so amazing. This is like the best burrito ever, or whatever, you know. And I lost track of my thoughts now.

Iva Mikles  

So kind of like the the combining because we were just talking I basically my question was because you know, if, if people should kind of rely on one income, or if they should always think about, okay, let’s balance it out and maybe save up money for the next. Yeah.

Trent Kaniuga  

Yeah, I think. Yeah, that’s that’s what it was. The second thing was when, you know, if you’re, if you’re living frugally, and you’re going without, but that’s because you’re socking money away investing or whatever it is, you know, like, any, any way that you can be sure that you don’t have to take a job that you don’t want to take or things like that, then you’ve got a little bit of a nest egg to kind of like fall back on. And then I tend to diversify a lot. So yeah, most of my to answer your question. Most of my income comes from contract work, of course. And I have a sponsorship now, with Sketchbook Pro, and they treat me really cool. We do a lot of a lot of different jobs for a lot of different companies. And yeah, that pretty much there’s a lot of support from the community. But I wouldn’t say like YouTube, it’s mostly like, nobody really makes money on YouTube, YouTube, there’s a misconception, I think YouTube is really about me trying to do everything I can to help people and share some of the knowledge and experience that I’ve had as a developer, kind of, like I said before, before we were, we started the recording and I was telling you like, I started doing a YouTube channel because i i saw that, like people didn’t really see developers as people will they just kind of see them as like, these hotshot ego egotistical guys, or you know, that, that don’t really pay attention to them. And I wanted to show people a little bit more of like, I guess, a real person, you know, behind the development of some of these projects, and every now and then I’ll even do you know, videos that kind of showcase like, Hey, here’s some of the behind the scenes, stories of games that I’ve worked on in the past that people might have played, you know, and, and the things that they didn’t get to see anywhere else, you know, and that was why I started there wasn’t really many concept artists five years ago doing doing YouTube channels.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, definitely. And what is the maybe the exciting upcoming project that you can share? Which is?

Trent Kaniuga  

Yeah, I got a couple of things. I’m really glad you asked me that. I’m really excited about this, I just released a, it’s a digital ebook version of the world of Twilight monk. And it’s basically like a compendium, it’s got, like a lot of the artwork for this universe of Twilight monk that I’ve been writing all these characters and like, creating all these background stories, and, and it’s kind of started and stopped as an indie game a couple of times. And finally, I was like, you know, what, like, what, what can I do on my own right now. And that’s like, put together a compendium, and it’s like this is if you were gonna make an animated series off of this, it’s like, got maps and backgrounds and like, here’s the kind of architecture for this location. And here’s, like, you know, a little backstory on this character that we haven’t really like seen too much of yet. But here’s where this other character is, who has been missing from the books for a while. So I’m really excited about that one, because it’s sort of like a living book, too. I’m adding new stuff to it. So like, literally right before, you know, we got on a call, like I’m adding to the Compendium part of the portion that’s like the BCRA like where you got, like all the different creatures that the characters would be, you know, running into if you’re making this as like a, like a JRPG style of game you know? So it’s really like this is Exactly what I would do if I were working on, you know, if, instead of being employed to design concept for World of Warcraft, we were doing, you know, the Twilight monkey universe, like, this is everything that I would be doing for that. Plus, because I’m also writing a lot more of the descriptions, you know, and I also record a lot of the videos, and I do tutorials on that as well. So a lot of my brushes are available a lot of my, my tricks and secrets are in my tutorials and things like that. So,

Iva Mikles  

and this is mostly YouTube, so people can go check it out on you. Yeah, yeah,

Trent Kaniuga  

exactly. Yeah. And I mean, there’s links there to pick up the the art books and things like that. Yeah.

Iva Mikles  

Oh, nice, nice. And then we will also put the everything to show notes, so they can check out all of your products and these kinds of things. It’s super cool. It’s awesome. So, like, some of the last questions I want to ask is about the future. And if you will see yourself in five to 10 years and imaging like this dream scenario. And if you cannot fail, you’re not afraid of anything. And so where are you in? What are you doing?

Trent Kaniuga  

You know, honestly, I’m already doing it. Like, there’s nothing I would change, I’m completely. And this kind of ties into what I was saying earlier about having expectations. If I say like, I want to have the movie deal, and then I start turning all my attention towards doing this like thing that maybe or maybe won’t happen. And if it doesn’t, then I’ll feel like depressed, you know, and I think that’s a bit of a trap that people can kind of get caught up in, like, Oh, I didn’t get that job, or I didn’t get that movie deal. Or I didn’t get that toy line, or that thing I really wanted to happen didn’t happen. I love doing I love waking up in the morning, I get to paint a little bit of what I anything I want to do. And I get to share that with people on YouTube, we get to help people who are just starting out, I get to help people through tough times as a professional concept artist, and like, I honestly, I couldn’t ask for a more fulfilling life. There’s nothing that I would expect to change or want more of, because I already have everything that I would want. It’s not that exciting. Like, you know, I’ve got a dream and let me tell you about my dream, you know, no, I already, I really just kind of want to keep this this experience going as much as I can this kind of freedom and this kind of man, I want to develop as a programmer, I want to keep doing programming, I want to keep doing. You know, art, 3d and 2d, I’ve been picking up a little bit more 3d. So there’s probably going to be a little bit more of that. But honestly, I can’t really tell the universe that I expect this to certain thing to happen. You know, I’m ready for whatever it throws at me. And I’m excited to see whatever the heck that that might be. It’ll be pretty cool.

Iva Mikles  

Sure. Nice. Nice. Yeah. Because then maybe people can see from you more books, more games you will work on. And so that might be exciting.

Trent Kaniuga  

Yeah, I guess if nothing else, I just hope to put out more content, more stuff for people to enjoy. I guess that would be it.

Iva Mikles  

And maybe the last question would be, what would you like to be remembered for in 100 years?

Trent Kaniuga  

No, no concern about that whatsoever? I don’t think about that. Honestly. That would be I guess, I mean, you know, that’s a really tough question. Because once you’re gone, it’s gone anyway. So it doesn’t matter. I suppose. I guess. I would like to inspire people to be passionate about their creative endeavors, I suppose. Yeah. If I think but but I don’t

Iva Mikles  

expect that. But people would appreciate it. I’m sure.

Trent Kaniuga  

We really don’t know. I suppose so.

Iva Mikles  

And I mean, this was super great. And super fun. So thank you so much for being here.

Trent Kaniuga  

Thank you for inviting me. I really appreciate the inclusion you got some pretty cool guests lined up.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, everyone is so cool. I’m super happy that we can inspire young people. That’s just amazing. Yeah, if you have like last piece of advice before we say goodbye.

Trent Kaniuga  

Um yeah, one of my one of my things that I do on my on my YouTube channel is I always close with it with the same kind of a thing and I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna do it here for you. If you’re gonna do an interview, on the Art Side of Life, do an interview on the Art Side of Life with some frickin passion, man. Yeah,

Iva Mikles  

good. Definitely with these boys. I love it. That’s the perfect day to goodbye and just end this interview. So thank Thanks, everyone for watching and listening and thank you for being here.

Trent Kaniuga  

Thank you so much. Hope you guys

Iva Mikles  

enjoy this interview. You can find all the resources mentioned in this episode at artsideoflife.com. Just type a guest name in the search bar. There is also a little freebie waiting for you so go check it out. If you’ve enjoyed this episode, please leave a review on iTunes hopefully five stars so I can read an inspire more people like you. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to Art Side of Life podcast because I post new interview every single workday. If you want to watch the interviews, head over to artsideoflife.com/youtube. Thank you so much for listening. Don’t forget to inspire each other. And I will talk to you guys in the next episode. Bye.

Announcer  

Thanks for listening to the Art Side of Life podcast at www.artsideoflife.com

Hi, I am Iva (rhymes with “viva”). I am an artist, illustrator, founder of Art Side of Life®, and Top Teacher on Skillshare. Since 2009 I've worked as an illustrator, character designer, art director, and branding specialist focusing on illustration, storytelling, concepts, and animation. I believe that we are all creative in infinite numbers of ways, so I've made it my mission to teach you everything I know and help either wake up or develop your creative genius. Learn more about me.

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