John Sweeney is currently an environment concept artist working at Naughty Dog. His most recent projects shipped include, “The Last of Us” and “The Last of Us: Left Behind DLC”.
John is very fortunate for his opportunities all which are a combination of hard work, timing, and an amazing network of friends, teachers, and my family. When he was about 12 years old, he had the opportunity to visit Sony Studios (then 989 Studios) and got a first hand look at how games were actually made. He had been playing games and drawing all his life, but it wasn’t until he saw the concept artist, who at the time wasn’t yet using a computer to create images, sitting in the middle of three drawing tables and about 600 Prismacolor markers, that he knew what he wanted to do for a living.
He started to study art seriously when he was in high school at a small studio in the San Fernando Valley called Valley Art Institute. It was there that he got his first objective critiques, and was able to exist in an environment where he could be inspired by his peers and engage in healthy competition. It was here when he met his friend and colleague Eytan Zana, who went on to study at Otis College of Art and Design a year ahead of him. Shortly he too started his studies at Otis, and began focusing on traditional illustration and painting. It wasn’t until the beginning of his senior year that he realized he needed to focus on learning the digital medium. Fortunately, Eytan sat him down and convinced him to get on board with the digital methods used to create art.
After graduating from Otis, John continued to take classes at Red Engine School of Design, and watch various tutorials on the internet, accompanied by a few very informative reference books that helped him better grasp the concepts taught to him in school. He had always wanted to work at Naughty Dog, and when he was ready, Eytan (who had been working there for a year as an environment Concept Artist) passed on his portfolio for review, and got him a test at the studio! The rest is history as they say, and the last couple of years working has been an extremely fun learning experience.
John’s experience working in games can be summed up best with the word “challenging”. Every day there’s a new problem to solve, or idea to work out and collaborate with a team of people all working towards one goal, make an awesome game. Seeing the process first hand has made him come to love the medium of Video Games even more, and as a whole they’re only getting better!
As far as goals for himself, he would love to someday lead a team to create a game. In the meantime he is trying to learn as much as he can and explore other avenues of the creative process such as music and writing, but painting will always be his first love.
Title: Digital Illustration Theory and Process 1
Title: Digital Illustration Theory and Process 2
Title: Digital Illustration Set Design 1