Nida Syed – Concept Artist
“Trust yourself and trust your work.”
Hey Nida, I am glad you can chat today!
“Thank you for having me!”
What is your current job title?
“I’m a concept artist, but since we’re a small company I work in whatever position is needed.”
What other sort of things have you had to do? Which company do you work for?
“I work with Darkshot Studios. I’ve had to be background artist, prop artist, pretty much anything that has art in the title.”
Got it. With a small company, you have to wear a bunch of hats. What game titles have you worked on in your career?
“This is actually my first game that i’ve worked on, and it’s been really fun and challenging.”
What is the name of the game you are working on?
“The game is called ‘ROTii’! It’s about a little cleaning robot who’s trying to save it’s inventor from the bugs infesting her home.”
That sounds like fun and cute idea. What is your typical workday like?
“Well, I work a full time job else where, and work with Darkshot Studios on the side. I work my 9-5, get home and start working on concepts right away. Most of it includes researching for reference, and then creating whatever is needed. At the moment that would be backgrounds.”
“Most of my weekends are spent drawing and conceptualizing.”
You are doing the true indie grind. Day job and crushing it on a passion project at night. How do you manage your time to give enough time to the indie project?
“Yes, it really is the true indie grind! It is definitely difficult to balance two jobs, but I would say it’s all about prioritizing. I try to spend most of my time on the game, because it truly is a passion project. Most of my weekends are spent drawing and conceptualizing. And lots of sleepless nights for sure.”
When you do have free time, how do you like to spend it?
“Recently I’ve been trying to get healthier, because I do spend all day sitting in front of a computer. So I’ve started riding my bike, doing some yoga and occasionally watching Netflix.”
It’s good to exercise the body, it can help to clear the mind and help with creativity.
“Very true, and it helps to be aware of your surroundings and kind of take in the world you live in.”
Where did you grow up?
“I was born and raised in New York, then moved to Pakistan, and then moved to Texas where I live now. It’s been a weird childhood with all the moving.”
I can imagine. How has your upbringing influenced your art and your approach to your career?
“I think it’s opened my mind to different cultures and the way everyone expresses themselves through art. New York, Pakistan, and Texas are all very different and the differences spark new ideas. I would say living in Pakistan definitely helps with ROTii since the inventor of the robot is Pakistani… and is actually based off of me! As for my approach to my career, the moving around makes me want to go on more adventures and find different jobs in different areas, no matter the city or country.”
It does seem like it has opened your mind to various possibilities and perspectives. Where did you learn your craft? Did you go to school? Did you get a degree?
“I went to the Art Institute of Houston- North, where I graduated with a bachelor degree in fine arts. But, I have been drawing and creating ever since I was a small child.”
How did you get connected with Darkshot? How did you find this job in games?
“The people in Darkshot are friends of friends. Actually, my best friend recommended me to the CEO as they were looking for a concept artist. As they say, it’s not only about what you know, but also who you know!”
It is truly about who you know sometimes. Did you want to get into games? Did you think of games as a career option?
“Not until towards the end of college, when I started looking at different artist portfolios for inspiration, and realized that my degree could get me a career in game design. I’ve always been interested in different art fields, from fashion design to animation and I think game design is a good mix of all of it.”
Where do you see yourself going with your career? I guess, what is your dream job?
“The possibilities are endless to be sure, but in the end I want to be a creative director. Usually creative directors don’t draw as much, and though I do love concept art, I would love to lead all the aspects of the creative design in a project.”
What skills or traits are most important to be successful as a concept artist?
“Definitely creativity, confidence in your work, and the passion to go out and learn about whatever you’re conceptualizing. Reference and research were really important when I was in college.”
What are your favorite programs or plugins you use? What can’t you live without?
“Photoshop and Illustrator are the main programs I use. But I definitely could not live without paper and pencil. Sometimes, going traditional gives me a break from the computer and allows me to think a little better.”
Paper and pencil are tried and true creation tools. They never crash and you rarely lose your work do to software failure.
“Exactly! Unfortunately, you can’t really ctrl+z.”
Undo is a crutch. Confidence with each pencil stroke! [Laughs]
“True true! After years of drawing, you come to learn that.”
How do you stay relevant in your craft? How do you stay up on trends? Are there websites you follow? Masters whose tutorials you reference?
“Social media is my go to for the latest trends. I follow a bunch of artists on Facebook, Youtube, and Tumblr. My favorite artists are Sachin Teng and Loish. Watching their tutorials are mesmerizing.”
What one game has influenced you the most?
“Monument Valley was a beautiful game that is most influential to me. Not only was it gorgeous, but it had such creative gameplay. I definitely go back to it whenever I need inspiration.”
I love Monument Valley. It was extremely well crafted. Ok, if you had to describe yourself in one sentence, what would you say? What is your tagline?
“I think my tag line would be ‘Trust yourself and trust your work’.”
If people wanted to find you later, where can you be reached? Personal website? Twitter? Instagram?
“I do have an art blog: nidarts.tumblr.com. That’s where I keep all my art and sketches. There is also my website, needanida.carbonmade.com.”
Well, thank you for speaking with me! I loved hearing your story.
“Thank you for hearing my stories, it was fun!”
Great great great