Sprite Stories: Hansa

Category: careers

September 13, 2023
Sprite Stories: Hansa

Overcoming career challenges and finding yourself through art

Person smiling at camera for portrait photo to share their games industry story. Person’s photos sits left of a white and grey pixel backdrop which displays name, role and the Firesprite logo in red and an article pull quote in black text.

My Journey into Game Development
During my childhood in India, I loved to paint and draw constantly. I loved expressing my creativity, but as I grew older, I had no idea how to translate this passion of mine into a viable career. So, I went on to study management at college, and it was actually during that time that someone on my course introduced me to the idea of exploring 2D and 3D animation as a potential career path.

I started year-long side courses, learning Photoshop and Flash, and then went onto study 3D when a big boom in 3D courses suddenly hit. A clear route for me with my new skills was working in Bollywood movies, however, after talking to my friends and searching online for what doors my new skills could open for me, I came across opportunities in gaming. The gaming industry in India was still in its early stages at the time, and I felt lucky to be selected by Dhruva Interactive, where my 15-year journey into the world of gaming began.

Working at Dhruva Interactive completely changed the way I enjoyed and interacted with games. Before, I would just play to win or achieve a goal, but after learning about how these experiences were crafted and the intricacies of game development, I was captivated, examining all of fine details as I played. Working in games allowed me to see gaming from a whole new perspective.

Moving from India to the UK and Tackling New Career Challenges
In India, I was working at an outsource company in a work for hire capacity, delivering assets and models to a strict brief. An opportunity arose to move from India to the UK, with the journey taking me to Frontier in Cambridge, where I became an integral part of the F1® Manager 2022 team. Stepping into a role where I was now defining the creative direction rather than following it was a great opportunity, but also a daunting prospect! It was a difficult transition initially but in time I was able to enjoy the creative freedom. A decade of experience being on the ‘other side’ had prepared me to take on this new challenge.

Another change in direction presented itself when I had the opportunity to join Firesprite and pivot into an Environment focused role involved in the creation of the beautiful post-apocalyptic landscapes in Horizon Call of the Mountain. Little did I know that moving into an environment role would create such a spark inside me and I approached this remit with a newfound passion. The changes in my role expectations from my time in India to the UK and then moving from a hard surface to an environment art role were substantial and challenging, but ultimately immensely creatively rewarding.

I’ve been fortunate to have had support and advice from colleagues and mentors in both countries and gained invaluable insights from my roles and career growth. These experiences have all positively influenced how I approach work today and have stayed with me as a source of inspiration through moments of change throughout my career. I’d like to share some of those insights with you today.

My Advice for Junior Artists
If I could share advice with any junior or aspiring environment artists reading this right now, I’d stress the importance of constantly studying references. We naturally recreate what we see every day in nature but as artists, we have to be more conscious in looking more closely at the finer and subtle details of everything we see – and we must keep on observing and absorbing. Engage in the deliberate practice of keenly observing subtle details that often go unnoticed by most people.

Patience is also crucial. This was so valuable to me whilst I was still developing my skills, so it’s something I like to bring to my day-to-day when supporting my team, and it’s something I think is a key attribute for any Artist and teammate.

A common trend that I often encounter with emerging artists is prioritizing software proficiency over cultivating core skills. Set yourself apart by refining the skill of observation. The passion and drive to understand and bring that to your work, however, is a much more unique skill. Take the human body or a vehicle for example. Are you illustrating an object? Or are you illustrating a complex system of individual parts? A series of organs and systems, each with their own unique and crucial function. How are you ensuring that functionality is properly represented? Take the time to really study the intricacies of your subject to set your work apart.

Most of all, I think that art is really about finding yourself. By refining and following this passion, I’ve journeyed from sales executive to ad agency, to finding game art and finally finding myself working as a Senior Environment Artist on a blockbuster franchise!

Art helped me find myself and served as my compass, guiding me to a dream role that I didn’t even know was my dream! Time just disappears when I’m working. I have the joy and pleasure to spend my days doing exactly what I want to do with my life, and I truly hope that sharing my journey, experiences and the lessons I’ve learned along the way might help you do just the same.