David Igo 2011
First thing you need to know about David Igo is that he’s funny. You need to know that because you may not see it coming until he’s standing in front of you and 5 minutes later you’re wondering … “where did this guy come from?” … Colorado as it turns, out. He’s not the introverted artist type. He’s a scene stealer. His story is unique and inspiring…
David Igo, founder of SatelliteSoda, is a full-time concept artist at Sideshow Collectibles. He pretty much gets paid to do whatever he wants and is completely spoiled.
Interview by Lily Feliciano
What steps did you take to develop your career as a Concept Artist?
I basically just drew all the damn time since I could remember, worked my ass off in art school, and tried to get my work “out there” any way possible. I never really fell into any pigeon holes with my art–when I was studying animation, I drew dumb overly-rendered monsters and sculpted stuff, and when I was studying 3D Modeling, I animated paper cut-outs in After Effects and drew Hulk fighting Batman (Batman always won, obviously…). That really helped build a diverse body of work for my portfolio, which I’d clutch when I was running around conventions looking for work. I made these 30’ish-page handout portfolios full of life drawings, creature designs, Batman kicking Hulk’s ass, sculpts of wrinkly things, stills of my 3D models, etc. and gave them out to as many Art Directors as I could. With all that varying art, it really helped demonstrate the diversity in my skill set, which was one reason I got hired in the first place (not the case for every studio mind you.)
Also, having “good art” is cool, but I feel it’s only a fraction of the equation to getting a career in art. At the 2006 San Diego Comic Con, I felt waiting in line at a portfolio review was really impersonal. I hated sitting still in a line, waiting for-EH-ver, and I knew where I sucked and where I needed to improve my art. So, I kept running around and harassing people on the floor, going up to company booths, skipping right past the booth babes (as hard as it was) and asking to talk to an artist or an Art Director/Creative Director. A huge part of landing a job anywhere is how personable you are. Chances are you are one of many that have the right skills, but you can stick out if you pass this test when people ask themselves: “Do I want to be stuck in an airport for 6 hours with this guy?” And if you meet someone REALLY important/famous, being able to joke and small talk and not geek out all over their shirt always helps.
So yah, I never really saw myself getting a job as a concept artist. I never thought I was good enough– hell, there are a MILLION people better than me–but getting people to laugh at my lame jokes, having no ego, and keeping a collaborative/open mind were imperative in supporting my portfolio and helping me land my first gig.
Describe the mission of SatelitteSoda, why did you form this partnership?
SatelliteSoda’s mission has been ever evolving. When I first started it 7-8 years ago, with a handful of friends, it was just a forum on which art friends could tear each other apart, egging each other on to work harder, and give out constructive criticism so we could grow as artists. This was because every other forum seemed like a huge circle-jerk where people felt criticism was “mean;” it was impossible to get honest feedback. Now we have a core group of friends who have partnered up in creating an art-gang working on our own IP for film and TV. It’s awesome, and the forum is still creeping along which is great. It’s actually my #1 source for finding new freelancers for my current gig.
I also never saw myself as a solo-act. I’m very extroverted, I can’t just sit and work by myself all the time, I have to work with people on stuff. I love to talk to people, spitball, and (above all) collaborate, and SatelliteSoda is a huge collaborative environment.
What was your first art gig when you moved to Los Angeles? Did it at all change the focus of your career or creative goals?
My first gig was at Gentle Giant Studios. Karl approached me at SDCC 2006, when I had a table in Small Press, on the last freaking day during the last freaking hour. It was all luck with timing because everyone else at my table left early and had I not had that face-to-face with Karl, I don’t think I would have gotten my second interview at the studio.
And yah, it totally changed my focus in my early career. I never thought I’d get into the collectibles industry. I was always thinking it was “Get into film or FAIL!” whereas now I’m super stoked I didn’t start there (even though it’s still in my plans).
Working for a small privately owned company really helped make things feel more intimate rather than being a cog in a giant machine. It also forced me to draw a TON in every style imaginable, constantly pushing me out of my comfort zone, which is a HUGE reason why I think I’ve improved the way I have as fast as I have, but I still think I suck…
Now I’m at Sideshow Collectibles, drawing when/what I want to and co-art directing all the 2D Freelancers when I’m not drawing, which is most of the time.
Creative end goals are still the same though: I want to continue to develop my own IPs with SatelliteSoda and make short films, movies, and animations. Nothing beats creating your own worlds and telling their stories.
You use a variety of mediums, which is your favorite and why?
I do have really bad artistic A.D.D where I like to do a bunch of different stuff, not like having to choose between india ink or using my own blood for drawing, but more like a constant four way epic tug-of-war between draw/sculpt/animate/write. But more often than not, nothing beats a sketch pad with .05mm 2B lead making a mess of things–not to jock being traditional, it’s just what I’m used to, and I’m messy…
Finish this sentence “Life before Z-brush was…..”
…full of kicking ass and chewing bubblegum, but now I’m all out of gum…
Do you always feel motivated to be creative and productive? Or do you, like many have to kick yourself in the ass?
NOPE! I can fall out of a groove HARD, and I can’t force myself into a good one– it’s gotta come naturally. So thank GOD for having A.D.D where if I’m not feeling drawing, I can write; if I’m not feeling writing, I can hopefully draw; if I’m not feeling anything I can pay someone else to do it for me while I watch movies.
What advice do you have for any artist hoping to work in the entertainment industry?
First off, nothing beats working with people you enjoy, so if you’re HOPING to get in, be cool as shit and learn to vibe with people as opposed to trying to impress them with whatever. NOTHING is worse than talking to someone and then they start term-dropping (who really cares if you know the name of every muscle in the human body unless your’re a doctor, really?) or name-dropping people “My friend knows someone who knows someone who got kissed on the face by David Igo!” (that one might work actually), or one-upping you with a term-drop combo “Oh, that’s cool you use Z-Brush at work, I just got the Cintiq 24HD and I feel I need more range of pressure sensitivity when I’m sculpting my digital WED clay to achieve accurate tertiary detail…” -_-
Also, don’t stab anyone in the back/be a douche-bag. You’d be shocked at where people can end up in a few years, and if you treated them like shit, go figure getting a job at their company is as simple as summiting K-2 wasted in a sumo-suit.
LASTLY, be honest with yourself and others, always, be open-minded to new things and listen to ideas you might disagree with, and if you’re afraid of something, eat one of it.
Check out David’s sketch videos here
Visit Satellite Soda here