Mr. Sasha Krieger Ristic: A True Believer of the Fantastic; An Exceptional Artist

by Joshua Diokno   

In this day and age wherein technology is king, the belief in the supernatural finds distaste and ridicule. Sure, the fantastic and the paranormal look good in literature and intimidating in the wide and small screen, but when contextualized in everyday life, well, we usually choose Science. And science has no room for the unexplainable.

That is why Mr. Sasha Krieger Ristic is such a breath of fresh air. Yes, he is an artist who employs ZBrush, an advanced technology, in his craft. And yes, he believes in the fantastic. Do we have a problem with that? NO. We don’t.

Fact of the matter is, we are thankful that such a grown and mature man isn’t afraid to express his beliefs. It is through this that he is able to create art that makes us wonder—makes us stare wide-eyed. We are in awe of his pieces. We would want to turn every stone, but we really love the mystery—don’t we all love being nystified by something?

Mr. Sasha Krieger Ristic makes us dream again. And that, is a gift.

So let us get to know him better through this interview. Let us see how his gift of seeing through worlds that we deny allows him to create works that are worty of our admiration.

Xeno Creatives (XC): We understand that Zbrush technology had been quite an innovation in the industry. And unlike producing visual art by pencil and ink on paper, much technical know-how is required for the software. What processes did you have to learn to be skilled in Zbrush? As a dedicated artist, how did it help you progress further in your craft?

Sasha Krieger Ristic (SKR): My technique was pen and paper and clay modeling. Much of the anatomy and basics I have learned through the “traditional way”. My first experience with ZBrush has changed my approach and technique pipeline entirely. When I saw the phenomenal works of Rafael Grasseti, Mihai Daranga and the like I realized, such realistic composition and forms could not be done in such short amount of time. So I did a little research and discovered ZBrush.

ZBrush merged my two skills, illustration and modeling, into one. I had it all in one software—with illustration and modeling skills working in perfect symbiosis.

As I started modeling, I have learned through trial and error. My first models were character busts and heads, since I had limited knowledge in ZBrush. As time passed, I have learned much and now in all aspects of my work, I use ZBrush. This software and tool boosts your creativity with its simplicity, and does not block it with complicated features and buttons.

XC: How did your decision to pursue Zbrush come about? Would you want to expand to other media or do you want to just focus on it?

SKR: ZBrush perfectly corresponds to other platforms. I use it for many processes. For example, for still frames, character design, and designing concepts, I use Zbrush with Keyshot and Photoshop, where I can have nice still frames and beauty shots of creatures and characters. In game character design, I use it alongside 3Ds Max and Maya, while doing a bit of tweaking in the topology, UV Wunwrap, and retopology.

XC: Is it integral for you to be masterful in human anatomy when working with Zbrush?

SKR: In doing any kind of artistic work, you must know the basics. Anatomy is crucial understanding creature and character workflow. By learning the basics, you can improvise further and create realistic forms of fantasy creatures.  You learn anatomy not by a medical approach but in an artistic one.

XC: Do you see yourself lending your talents to the movie and television industry?

SKR: My experience spans 14 years in the movie and game industries. I work a lot as a freelancer and in the last 4 years, I have been working as an executive 3D concept artist in Mad Head Game studios, creating characters and concepts for video games.

XC: Were there other media that you explored? What were these?

SKR: I explore many platforms that use a similar approach, but for now ZBrush is the best in the industry, at least for me. I collaborate with many platforms to have the best results possible. These include, Blender, 3Ds Max, KeyShot, TopoGun, and more.

XC: Was delving into the craft really a passion to begin with or a mere necessity?

SKR: In the beginning it was my passion and true love as it is now. But as time passes it also became a necessity as all my income are form the work I do. I am lucky because the work I do is also my hobby; even when I am not at work I am working, all because of the love I have for it.

XC: Seeing your works on ArtStation was quite a visual treat! Your creatures are awesome as they are indicative of your attention to detail and sense of originality. (We are haunted by your concepts, especially the demon-like creatures and the Goddess of Death!) But do you have favorite pieces? What are they and why?

SKR: My first experience with creature design was very intense and scary 😊  

You see, I am born in Balkan and here in the rural parts of it, fantastic creatures still lurk in the dark parts of the forests and in people’s minds and hearts. My grandmother was one of the first storytellers and “concept artists” that triggered my imagination. In her stories, I heard lots of tales based in reality. I learned about many forms of vampires that we have. In mainstream media, there is one type of vampire, the pale count who is usually cloaked, with sharp fangs and all. But in fact, there is much more. The scariest of them all are not that romantic and nice. My grandma knows how each of these creatures look, act, when and where they can be seen, and how you can banish them.

Even now in 21st century wherein technology is booming, people in this part of the old continent, still think that there is a “Forest Mother” in each forest living in the oldest tree. Mountains are sleeping Dragons, Kablar, Mayev, Igman, Tser, Avalon, Shar, Great goddess Baba who is now named Baba Rogha, the ugly and evil witch who steals children. Werewolves, witches, vampires, howlers, all these and more, along with the stories that I heard and know still boost my imagination. They are the source of all my works in one form or another. I use them oftentimes and the understanding of primal fears of human heart is the key to the best result in scary creature design.

XC: If you weren’t doing what you’re doing now, what do you think you’d be specializing in instead?

SKR: If I weren’t doing this I would probably be a vampire hunter….or a vampire 😊

XC: What advice or message can you give young aspirants wanting to enter the craft/industry?

SKR: My advice to a younger artists is to be creative and don’t fear errors and feedback. These are the fundaments of knowlage not only in art but in all aspects of life.

Your art must be seen and now with the internet and technology booming, the timing is perfect. Everybody can see your work and you can see others’ work, learn the fundamentals to unleash your imagination and create your own signature by improvisation.

Mr. Sasa Ristic Krieger, we wish you all the best in your future projects. We hope that your belief in the supernatural won’t fade away. This world needs more believers like you!

Want to see more of Mr. Sasha Krieger Ristic’s AMAZING works? Click here!

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