The EverQuest II team is blessed with a great many highly talented artists. Aaron "Gnobrin" Bisnett is the Community Team's gnomish graphics guru by day and the EQII team's art apprentice by night! When he isn't dropping in and taking a few thousand screenshots that we absolutely must have tomorrow!!1one, he's turning his hand to drawing some really beautiful things that are being added to the stunning items already found in Norrath.
What's it like being an art apprentice for EQII?
Being an art apprentice for me is a little skewed. I've always wanted to work on a video game, from the times I'd draw weapons and fantasy doodles in the borders of my school work to the present day with the many, MANY drawing books I have scattered around my apartment that are full of swords, sorcery and the denizens of fantasy worlds. Apprenticing for Everquest II has been outstanding, without a doubt. The first time I saw one of my items in-game, I almost fainted. Knowing that the item came from my brain, wrought by my own hands... it was really a culmination of work over the past 7 years at SOE.
What do you draw from for inspiration for your art?
I draw inspiration from the world around me, from the work of other wonderful fantasy artists and from the many fantasy novels I am reading (but never seem to have the time or gumption to get through them). I've always had a knack of taking shapes I see around me, be that a cloud in the sky to a splotch of something on the ground, and work that shape into something I can then draw. It's certainly been an interesting task to take my skills of drawing and put that to use in digital 3-D media to then be used in-game!
What’s your favorite part of EQII?
Without a doubt, the players. The world, the setting, the dangers seemingly found around every corner... that's a given for fantasy. Having a legion of other players out there that can then breathe life into the world, to then make events to take part in, to explain why things are the way they are, that is most definitely the best thing. Delving into a dark dungeon to clear out a gnoll threat can be done whenever you wish, but when you're with others that roleplay with you through that dangerous trial, it makes things so much more interesting and entertaining! Being a role-player at heart, when I am not playing with others, I spend much of my time trying out other characters to become. I presently have an army of alternate characters to choose on my accounts, from a halfling templar that is seeking to further the reach of his god, a dwarven berserker that loves "the drink" so much that he's working on his own tavern, to an ogre warden that just wants to help the land thrive despite the evil blight that seems to pour forth from Neriak... and that's only a few of them!
What's your favorite thing that you've done for EQII?
Still being quite new to the art apprenticeship, that's a very hard question to answer. I've completed quite a few items for the expansion as well as some items for the Battlegrounds, but I cannot claim any of them as "favorites" since I am so happy with them all. To design a new weapon, to cobble together a new shield, to make a new and beautiful cloak... it's all what I really came here to do. I can't say that this'll always be the case though, since I am hearing some whispers of what folks want to do on the design team, and it's right up my alley... perhaps those items will be my favorites, come the time those requests land on my desk!
How did you get started in the industry?
<Ponders how he got here...>
I'd been playing online games since before Everquest (and then Everquest when it released) and I knew that industry was what I wanted to be in. Taking a shot, I applied to be a Customer Service Representative when I learned that SOE was hiring. This was no small act though, since I was living in Tacoma, Washington at the time and had never moved far from home... and moving was just what I needed to do when I got the call that they'd accepted me! After getting my life uprooted and transplanted "down south", I found that I was to be a Customer Service Agent for Everquest's Playstation2 title, Everquest Online Adventures. It was quite a fun job too, since I knew the world of Norrath, even if it was 500 years in the past from what I knew in Everquest itself. I assisted customers on the Hodstock server as well as the Castle Lightwolf server and I had a blast until the fateful day that I was brought into the Community Relations team, where I am presently their full-time graphics artist.
What are some of the other projects you've worked on?
I've worked in Customer Service for the Playstation2 title: Everquest Online Adventures. I assisted customers on the Hodstock and Castle Lightwolf servers.
Do you have any special (or just super fun) projects you're working on now for EQII and/or Community?
I am blessed to have a job were much of what I do is "super secret" or super fun, sometimes both! For community, I'm just now in the thralls of the Festival of Unity on the Antonia Bayle server where I decorate Antonica and take screenshots of the entirely player-run events and I am gearing up for a slew of new Everquest "hotzone" images for our local torturess (Zatozia). In the apprenticeship side of things, I've recently worked up a set of weapons for Kyle "Kander" Vallee and am now working on another set of raid weapons. Might there be some zesty weapon appearance items for PvP content coming down the pipe? ...perhaps
Do you have any advice for aspiring game artists?
My advice is a little unusual since I didn't take the usual route that graphic artists/game artists take, that being the route through art school. I'd drawn my entire life (from what my parents tell me, I drew before I could talk), so that was at least a little leg-up on the process. Too, I have a serious work ethic that is quite demanding, so when I set my sights on something... it's going to happen. Sure, it might not be soon... but I'll do the time to get there. Another great point to make is don't expect things to fall into your lap every time you need to make step in your life, be sure to keep your eyes open and take any opportunity you can find to get to where you want to go. Watch out for toes though, the toes you step on now to crawl up the business ladder may be the toes of your boss, later.
If there’s anything you’d like to share that was not covered by one of the questions, please feel free to share!
Nope, I think I've covered everything! Oops, there's another art request from someone on the Community Team! They don't get done on their own, so I'd better get going!