All in Moderation: How Saman Mahmoudi Excels in the Digital Art Space

by Joshua Diokno   

Saman Mahmoudi does not dwell on extremes. Saman is one to advocate for hard work but would prefer working smart more. He knows that sacrifices have to be made for the craft, but will not compromise health over the completion of a masterpiece.

Saman is more than receptive to feedback and critique, something that is really refreshing given the climate of individualism and anything-goes culture of the post-modern age.

Needless to say, Saman is a wise artist. He is someone we might want to take a lesson or two from.

It is with great pleasure that we present to you our short but insightful interview of Saman. Here, we will uncover his motivations and his philosophies as he contributes to the digital art space.

Xeno Creatives (XC): We understand that with just about any craft, passion takes precedence. In your case, how did it start becoming a passion? Would we be right in assuming that you consider it a “calling” as a lot of your contemporaries do?

Saman Mahmoudi (SM): The passion started early on for me, I loved to draw and sculpt with clay when I was younger so going into a digital version of this felt like the natural way to go. I was also into videogames so game-art was what interested me the most.

XC: Was there ever an art piece (digital or otherwise) or artist who bolstered your interest in 3D art and motivated that you enter the space? When did you get involved fully in the industry?

SM: Jurassic Park was definitely something that got me interested in 3D art. My first job in the industry was in 2005 where I got to create heads of NBA players for NBA Live 06 and later I got a job at MPC London working in commercials but I quickly realized that game-art was more my thing.

XC: Now that you’re an active part of the industry, would you say you have pegged a solid place in it?

SM: I feel that I have a job that I’m satisfied and comfortable with. I’ve dabbled in different roles in both games and movies/commercials as well as tried freelancing but I feel mostly comfortable working on-site in studios in projects I like. I’d love to explore new things as well because the industry is always changing.

XC: How does your day look like in production?

SM: We usually start off the day with a stand-up meeting where we let people know what we’re about to work on during the day and if there have been any problems. Later, we work on whatever has the highest priority at the time. If there is time left, we can work on things that aren’t as highly prioritized but are still important. The work can vary between creating assets(usually related to character-art), fixing issues/bugs, and guiding and helping out each other.

XC: What are the common challenges that a 3D artist like you encounters daily in a project?

SM: The kind of problems I run into aren’t usually 3D-related, those kind of problems are usually simpler to fix by either figuring it out yourself or having a more technically-savvy person to help you out (engine-problems mainly).

The larger problems are usually production-related where there are confusions in what to prioritize and making sure the people in different teams are on the same page. Larger projects can sometimes have too many cooks and it’s easy get confused on what should be done.

XC: We have seen your works on ArtStation and we find them to be really impressive. While we can definitely see the influence of other media and known icons, there is an originality in your work that cannot be denied. Do you have any favorite works? If so, why are these your favorites?

SM: Thank you, there are definitely some artists that have influenced me more than others. I like Katsuhiro Otomo, Phil Tippet, Moebius, Ralph Mcquarrie and Masamune Shirow to name a few. I also have lots of friends in the industry that make a lot of inspiring art.

XC: What would you consider your biggest or most exciting project to date?

SM: This is a tough one. most of the projects I’ve been involved in have been interesting and fun in their own ways because they introduce new challenges for me. The project I’m currently involved in has been a lot of fun because I got to be part of the development of something and help it work well both with the art and its technical aspect which is something rare for me.

I’ve been involved in the development of the more technical aspects of a project in the past like animation and modelling. However, I wasn’t as experienced back then so I was never as happy with the results as I am now. Being able to push the art to a new level is something every artist should be proud of even if there are competitors that do it better. Comparing yourself to your past self and seeing how you’ve grown over the years is in my mind more preferable than comparing yourself to others because our skills are so different.

XC: If you were to market yourself, what would you highlight as your edge?

SM: I’d say that I usually have my own take on things but still maintain the core aspects. I don’t like to mimic others too much. Taste is subjective and it’s important to bring something new to the table that others haven’t thought of when recreating something, be it from a concept art or an old character.

XC: If you weren’t a 3D artist today, what would you be working as?

SM: I’m not sure really. I really love story-telling and movies so perhaps something related to that? I liked to draw before this so perhaps something 2D related. Not sure.

XC: What is your message to other artists in these challenging times?

SM: Work smart. Work hard too but try to do it in a smart way. Be careful so that you don’t repeat the same mistakes over and over and don’t overwork yourself.

Have others give you feedback and be open to them even if you disagree. It’s up to you if you want to follow critique or not but it’s important to be respectful and at least hear the feedback and keep an open mind. I’ve seen too many young artists who are stubborn about the way they work and it doesn’t help them grow.

I also feel that great art-feedback can come from non-artists as well. My family has helped me a lot when creating some of my pieces, especially my siblings.

Also, working on the project of your dreams can take some sacrifices sometimes and it’s up to you if you want to do that or not. But don’t sacrifice too much, especially when your health is on the line. It’s a large industry and finding your place in it can sometimes take time. AAA studios aren’t for everyone and the smaller projects can sometimes be more fitting for you.

Last but not least: don’t be an ass. The industry may be large now but word spreads pretty quickly so it’s still small in some aspects. 🙂

Want to see more or Saman Mahmoudi’s art? Click here!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>