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Alp Altiner Interview
Alp Allen Altiner is a Montreal based concept and 3D artist. He trained in Los Angeles under legendary traditional Matte Painter Syd Dutton. He has over 15 years of combined experience working in Feature Film Production, Video Games, Advertising and Comic Books. His credits include Superman Returns, 300, and the Imortals. He is also the founder of the website VFX Workshops and VFX Art Portal.
How did you get started in the industry?
My first contact with art was through my parents, specifically my mother. My mother was a very talented watercolorist. She had a lot of paintings she had done back in Italy. But she wasn’t a professional artist, just a mother who loved art. And my dad was very supportive. He bought me all sorts of technical art books and sketchbooks. And I think it was the influence of my dad that really helped me get into art seriously. I remember the first time he took me to a comic shop and I was like “oh my god this is just unreal.” I picked up a couple of titles, Spiderman, Superman and Batman. Comic books is what changed my life. I knew then that I wanted to draw. I was too young then to know that I wanted to be a comic artist but I knew that I wanted to draw. I was really amazed by the anatomical structure of drawing: how people were able to draw realistic figures.
I hear that you are a music lover too. How do your two passions play off one another?
My parents moved us around a lot so I’ve seen a lot of different cultures. These experiences helped open up my eyes on art and music. At around 13 the music sort of took over and I spent the next five years in front of a keyboard or piano. I was heavily influenced by electronic music, something I still produce now. When I did go back to drawing around 16 I found myself combining drawing and music. Some people don’t like listening to their own tracks but for me that wasn’t a problem because the stuff I was writing was the stuff that I like. I like stuff that gets people to dance. I was a DJ LA for about a year and I would listen to my music and draw. It was a very powerful experience.
How did you get your first break?
As I said I always drew but at a certain point I realized that my art wasn’t quite presentable. I realized that what I was doing wasn’t going to get me work. That’s a challenge every artist faces. You might have potential but until a master or an established artist looks at your work you have no clue if your work is good enough. I was always very business oriented so I asked myself what I had to do. I started following current comic artists. It took me four years of standing in line in San Diego asking companies for a job but my first opportunity came from Jim Valentino of Image Comics. That was my break. From there someone suggested I try game art. I started doing Christian games at a small company. It was a very relaxed environment. The office was on the beach. It was there that I was introduced to After Effects. Wow that was a life changer. I was able to move and animate things. The owner of the company was extremely well off so it gave us a lot of room to play around with different toys – cameras and technical equipment. And I’ve always had this hunger, this need to move on to a new challenge. So from games I went to film. And I worked pretty exclusively in the industry until I moved to Montreal and started taking full time video game work.
What kind of work did you do in film?
My very first job in film was with Digital Domain. I was taking a class at UCLA with a teacher named Eric Hansen – a very well known matte painter. He saw potential in my work and he helped me get an interview at Digital Domain. There I worked as a concept artist and 3D modeler.
What was the first project you worked on?
My first project was the film Day After Tomorrow. Roland Emmerich, the director, saw some of my work and he really liked an image I did of the city being destroyed. That was the moment that my name started getting out there and showing people who I was. And then they saw my 3D modeling and so as I continued doing film I had more freedom. If you are a really good artist and you’re passionate people let you do more than one thing. You just have to establish a really good relationship with the companies you work with.
Thanks for chatting with us Alp.
Check out the podcast with Alp Altiner: Episode 8: Alp Altiner (Concept Artist, Comic Book Artist, VFX Art Portal).
This interview is part of a series of exclusive Concept Art, Illustration, VFX, 3D and Comics Podcasts created by Syn Studio. If you enjoyed this podcast please share it with your friends. And please sign up below for our newsletter to keep informed about all of our great podcasts, interviews, tutorials, articles, videos and other material created for you: the artist.