FEATURED: BJÖRN HURRI, Concept Artist
Posted on February 25, 2011
Written by Mikael Lopez & Martin Rinman
Björn Hurri is a 30 year old concept artist living in London whose work, ranging from high fantasy to steampunk to science fiction to just plain bizarre, caught our eye. We got curious about the artist, so we asked and he answered.
Hurri, who grew up in Sweden, always “doodled a bit now and then”, hanging around graffiti walls with his older brother, learning how to do conventional art, in this case painting, in an alternative way. “It helped me view the world differently and made me realize that to do something you love there has to be sacrifices and devotion” says Hurri.
But the artist didn’t get serious about his craft until he was twenty-four and suddenly “woke up” while working at a production warehouse. “I marched over to my boss and quit and the next day I applied to a university in a city a few hours away. I was accepted and I moved within a month to a new city, new friends and new adventures.”
Hurri remembers his time at university as a lot of “work, beer and long days”. Juggling art studies, painting and freelance work (and hanging out with flat mates) sometimes required 36 hour marathons with only a few hours of sleep before repeating the cycle again. “At one point I had four or five game contracts running simultaneously while doing university work!” Hurri recalls.
He was later headhunted by award winning studio The Creative Assembly while still at university and worked on projects such as Total War: Shogun 2 (the series which the studio is best known for) and designed all the characters for Viking: Battle for Asgard.
For Hurri, the most important aspect in his work is to always keep the idea or the narrative in focus, the technical aspect should be secondary. “I usually just grab a pen and paper that’s lying around or stick to Photoshop and my trusted Cintiq 21UX, a pressure sensitive monitor that I paint on.” People viewing his art should immediately get what he is trying convey or what story he’s trying to tell.
His advice to young aspring artists isn’t surprising. “Work hard. Getting somewhere in art doesn’t come for free. Work those fingers to the bone.”
Hurri is currently Lead Artist for Opus Artz, a visualization centric art outsourcing studio working in film, games and publishing whose projects include Dead Space 2 and Infamous 2. He is happy where he is but wouldn’t mind working in the movie industry on a Blade Runner sequel.
The Bitter End
“The Bitter End was an entry for a competition, but I figured I should smash two birds with one rock so it’s also an illustration for a children’s book I’m creating for my son about a gnome and his encounters with magical creatures. The main character Melker is on a mission to save his wife who’s been kidnapped by trolls and the evil witch who controls them. I wanted to focus on losing all hope, on the friends who have gathered and his loss. Melker’s wife is just under a spell and she will be brought back in the end.
I haven’t set a deadline for the book as my son is only two and a half years old at the moment. A few of my illustrations to this book are on my CGHUB page, but the rest are stowed away, ready to be printed when the book is ready.”
“Boob-Bug is a birthday gift to a friend (http://daviblight.blogspot.com) of mine who loves creatures and naked women, so I thought I should combine the two into an illustration and give to him as a surprise. I think he liked it!”
Steampunk Star Wars (Leia, Boba Fett and C-3PO)
“My Steampunk Star Wars series started by me finding a competition on a website where 3D artists were supposed to design characters each week on a theme. The week I found the theme was just “Steampunk Star Wars” and it instantly struck a chord with me. I checked the references they provided and found them a bit lacking so I took it upon myself to fatten the reference library for the artists by making some of my own. One thing led to the other and here we are!
Steampunk is an interesting theme, I think it’s the functionality of it that makes me come back to it. There’s no magic to it, it has to look like it would work. I’ve always had an interest in figuring out how things work by either taking it apart or assembling it.”