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Thierry Doizon

“Maybe I was just born in the wrong century.” The artist known as BARoNTiERi explains why he’s partial to robots…

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THIERRY DOIZON
Age: 32
Country: I consider myself a world citizen but I currently live in Montreal, until I can move to Mars.
Software used: Photoshop CS, but sometimes I like to use Painter – it has a different feeling to it. I also use 3D software for some basic modelling, because it helps in building complex environments.
Web: www.steambotstudios.com

Madagascar. This huge island, situated off the east coast of Africa, is known by ecologists as the ‘eighth continent’ thanks to its abundant, rare and diverse wildlife. Now almost denuded of its forest covering by slash and burn farming, this dramatic part of the world is where Thierry Doizon grew up.

As exotic, precious and threatened as this island may be, the creative mind always wants more than it sees. That’s how Thierry (aka BARoNTiERi) got started as a concept artist – Madagascar needed spicing up a bit. “I always tried to design arrow guns for fishing and alien spacesuits,” Thierry laughs. “And plenty more funny, stupid things.”

Today, while working as a concept artist for Ubisoft, in Toronto, Thierry has brought together a collective of artists calling themselves Steambot Studios. Their first art book is in the offing, as is a Gnomon project and a slew of freelance work. His perceived ‘stupid things’ are in demand.

Logic

After studying art and literature in Africa, Thierry “did the logical thing” and returned to France where he moved into industrial and aesthetic design. After three years in the south of France, he moved to Rochester in the UK where, in 1995, he received a BA in 3D design. Game development beckoned.

But even as an artist with obvious talent, he reckons the game industry is a tough market. It’s still a young and evolving business, not the kind of world where you can afford to be overly precious, as having games cancelled is a normal occurrence. “I worked on many games which never passed the green light,” laments Thierry. 

This wasn’t always the case, as concept artist on games such as Vexx, I-Ninja and the soon to be released Quake Wars, Thierry has developed an ability for producing snapshots of a technologically superior future. One where mankind has come out the other side of our currently looming crisis, not necessarily better, but certainly different.

Digital

Thierry’s training largely pre-dates the dominance of digital techniques. “I started with my pencils, paintings and especially Pantone markers,” he recalls. They were tough times for a concept artist. “Ten years ago, I had a crazy library, I spent all my spare time in bookshops to find cheap references.” The arrival of the web has meant a revolution in his working practice: “It’s magical!”

The digital era just makes things easier and faster. Thierry marvels at the change wrought by the intervention of the silicon chip. “When you think about the time it took on paper to make the same stuff that we do now with a PC it’s just insane.” And it’s only going to get more crazy.

“Nowadays there are a lot of forums for concept artists showing and sharing images, tutorials and techniques.” This abundance of readily available sources of information, training and review for artists means there’s a wave of incredible talent building up. “It’s something I would have loved to experience a decade ago,” he muses.

Thanks, Ridley

“Blade Runner and Alien had a huge impact on me as a kid,” adds the artist. “And since then I’ve been obsessed by sci-fi.” You can certainly see the influence of both those movies in images such as Explorers and Thai Flight, but there’s more going on here than a homage to Ridley Scott. Thierry confirms: “I also love fantasy, cyberpunk and steampunk as much as futuristic worlds.” They’re all part of the mix. “They offer the best terrain for my imagination to explore.”

You get the feeling that Thierry may have been asked to justify his sci-fi passion more than once. He goes on: “I like science, technology, stories and movies. If you combine all this, you can guess my favourite genre.” Despite this fascination with futuristic technology, Thierry is an artist first – he puts no constraints on his creativity.

“I don’t fill my sketchbooks with any particular subjects, just the inspiration of the moment!” For the moment that inspiration is scientific but, not all that convincingly, he insists that could all change. “At the moment I’m doing a lot of SF-based images,” he admits. But it’s not a compulsion: “It depends on my feelings. I don’t think that I’m consistent in the process of doing them.”

The keys

Inspiration alone is not enough, talent is only the raw material. “I practice a lot,” Thierry nods. “Even though I consider myself lazy.” Art is a discipline, you can’t just pick it up when you feel like it: “It’s a typical subject of discussion among all artists,” agrees Thierry. “But it all comes down to this: talent is nothing without work!”

“Experimentation and experience are the keys,” says Thierry. These two things determine his creative choices. “I can use one of my sketches, a thumbnail, a stain, a speedpainting, a tile, anything really, it’s just a matter of having fun.”

The composition, the subjects and the style, even the medium should be chosen by instinct: “For the moment I spend most of my time on digital but I will soon work on some more traditional things.” Thierry won’t be tied to a single style or technique: “I just don’t have a particular method,” he shrugs. “I try to use the most efficient process depending on the situation.” This approach has served him well in the journey though the world of game development and continues to draw attention to his latest adventure: Steambot Studios.

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