August 25, 2014

Interview with Peter Jaworowski: Gamer Turned Creative

by Kenneth Shinabery

Gamer turned creativeOver the course of the summer I became familiar with the work of Peter Jaworowski, who is the co-founder of the agency Ars Thanea. I decided that I wanted to dive in deeper and get to know more about the Executive Creative Director whose roster of clients includes Nike, Ubisoft, Discovery Channel, HBO, Disney, and Hyundai.

What I learned was quite intriguing. Peter is not only one of the hottest Creative Directors in the design world, but his roots start in the gaming industry.


You have an interesting background and from what I have learned from my research that you originally wanted to become a professional player of the game Quake 2. Can you tell us a little more about that and what made you decide to get into digital art and illustration?

Gamer turned creativeYes, becoming a pro-player of Quake was my major dream back when I was 17. During that time I met many amazing people and one of them was an aspiring graphic designer, who showed me the Paint Shop Pro 6. I got hooked very fast and once I began experimenting with the software I wanted to learn more. This is how I discovered Photoshop 6. During this time I was playing Quake 2 less and less. Instead I began creating small images and photo collages for friends. As time passed, I noticed that I stopped playing the game and started playing with Photoshop instead. The transition was very smooth for me. I was working on digital art up to 14 hours a day just for fun. And this is how I learned a lot in a short period of time.

Gamer turned creativeHow did you make the move into advertising and marketing fields?

Almost two years after I began experimenting with Photoshop, I began to gain a little recognition around the web. This was also the time when I wanted to move from my hometown in Bialystok to Warsaw and study IT in college. To help with the transition and make some additional cash, to have something to live for, I applied as a junior designer position at Max Weber. Back in the day it was the very first Polish company that won a Gold Cannes Lion in the “Cyber” category. Luckily, I got picked. I’ve learned a lot and met really great friends at Max Weber. After I moved on, I focused on my freelance projects, which were coming one by one.


You are a co-founder of Ars Thanea, which is an award winning agency. 
How was Ars Thanea founded?

After my adventure with freelance, I joined the interactive agency K2, where I met my future business partners. Ars Thanea was founded in 2007 by Bartlomiej Rozbicki, Pawel Piotrzkowski, Radoslaw Krzepkowski and myself. There are over 65 people on board at the moment. We are also a part of an international marketing group Syzygy with offices based in Frankfurt, Hamburg, London and New York. We started Ars Thanea off to provide high quality services in the advertising and production field, which we couldn’t see in the previous companies we worked for. We wanted to make a difference and prove that with hard work and being fair to other people you can accomplish a lot in this area.

What is your daily routine like for you at Ars Thanea?

We all come to work around 9.30am, usually discuss current projects and continue where we finished, just a regular a work rhythm. Around 11:00am I probably have two or three 30 minute meetings discussing various things with management. Usually after that I go back to my computer for about an hour or so, to check emails or to reply to interviews.

When it’s closer to 2pm-3pm we try to gather few people from the studio and grab something for lunch. So either we go out to a nearby place or just order food. After we come back, we continue the creative work, attend meetings, have discussions and client calls. It might sound like it’s very casual work, but most of the time we keep ourselves focused. Sure, it is hard sometimes, a few projects at the same time with rough deadlines, but come on, it is a normal thing in a company. Nevertheless, definitely nothing to complain about and I enjoy keeping myself busy.

Gamer turned creativeI have heard the offices at Ars Thanea are really amazing. What are “five words” that describe your personal workspace? And can you share a picture of your workspace?

Clean, Cozy, Open, Well-thought & Ours. And yes, we moved to the new office three months ago. While preparing the space we had two words in our minds: utility and design. We have a stand-alone building in an amazing neighborhood of Warsaw. We share three equal floors and a space of 1000 square meters. The office is spacious but still you can feel the Ars Thanea spirit inside. Also, our artists prepared huge, black and white illustrations to decorate the walls.

Gamer turned creativeI sit together with the studio’s team on the top floor. Just a regular desk, a chair, super tiny 11 inch laptop and a phone. An ordinary workspace. I don’t need much. Plus, I have to be able to move with my equipment while working with various teams around the office.

Where do you and the team at Ars Thanea find the inspiration to create amazing projects?

Everything that surrounds us is the inspiration, it's just everywhere. I never expect the inspiration to come; I don't even try to force it. It may depend on the mood or on a personal situation. My experience taught me, that if the brain is relaxed and stress is on the lowest level, it’s more likely that the inspiration will come. You have more space for that. Plus, listening to the music, having a chat, and being positive works great for the team and myself.

Gamer turned creativeLANDING AMAZING CLIENTS…

What advice could you give to artists to help them find new clients?

Work hard, always try your best and be fair to the other people. The best way to find a new job is to treat every project like if it’s your last one. There is no better way of getting new projects than recommendations from past clients. Also don't put your works in the drawer; don't be afraid of showing them. Let people to find you. Display your work online.

Which client have you enjoyed working with the most and why?

The best client, is the one that understands you and treat like a partner, not as a tool. We were fortunate enough to meet many of those in the past few years. Few that I recall are definitely Discovery Channel, Nike and Rushplay.

Do you have a dream client or company that you have not worked for that you would love to one-day work with?

Hmm… it’s hard to choose one after all these years and the clients we already worked for. I guess it would be one of the brands that I would love to give a twist. We worked for Mazda, Hyundai, Dodge and Mercedes-Benz from automotive industry, but never for Audi. I’m sure it would be a great ‘ride’.


How would you define your personal style? What makes Peter Jaworowski’s art original and unique?

Back in the day, all my work was detailed and colorful collages with use of photography combined with shapes and other various elements. I used to play with a lot of light and various themes.

Now, as in Ars Thanea we work as a team, we focus more on the client’s needs and briefs. We mix styles and use very different techniques from 2D illustration to full 3D animation. Since we have many incredible talents in our studio we are able to experiment more and provide budget-wise solutions for clients that are impressive and work well with the strategy.

Gamer turned creativeAre you working on any interesting projects currently or can you tell us about one your latest projects?

One of our recent projects Casino Saga - Roulette Chase is a great example of how our team pushes the boundaries each time we make new project or try to expand on a different field. Roulette Chase is one of the very first 3D animations we ever did using cartoon characters. We worked closely with Rushplay to deliver a story and art style that would fit the whole brand strategy and will be extremely attractive for viewers.

Gamer turned creativeIf you could work on a personal project and experiment in a different medium what would you create?

I would love to design my own sneaker. Play with textures, colors, shapes, and make the prototype in a more traditional way. Avoid computer screen for a little bit and get back to it when it’s crucial.

Can you share some of your secrets to creating brilliant art?

I doubt there’s actually a secret behind it. I believe that brilliant things happen because of very hard work and dedication for a whole life. When you think about it; there is more blood, sweat, tears and not golden fish that make your dreams come true.


Gamer turned creativeWhat Wacom Products are used at Ars Thanea? Or which Wacom product have you found to be the most useful?

As a company, we are huge fans of the Wacom Intuos. Every single person at studio owns one and I can’t imagine our work without it. The Intuos just helps making things more accurate and faster than using a regular mouse. I used to create my images using only a mouse, but when I discovered the Intuos years ago I couldn’t look at mouse anymore. Besides the Intuos our digital artists are using the Wacom Cintiq and Wacom Cintiq Companion at home. I’ve heard great things about them.

The Wacom Cintiq Companion is a very mobile device. If you could take off from the office and go anywhere to work on a project where would you?

On the roof of one of Pixar’s buildings!

Why did you decide to showcase your work in the Wacom Gallery on Behance?

I believe it’s a greatly curated gallery of works that can easily attract new clients. The fact that it’s connected directly with Behance, makes it even nicer since you only need two clicks to appear there. Fast and easy! I’m a huge fan of it.

Which project in your Wacom Gallery on Behance is your favorite and why?

Gamer turned creativeYears passed but I still have the sentiment to one of the very first client projects I did as a freelancer. It was a first big client job for Nike Poland and the Nike Air Lab Exhibition here in Warsaw. I was asked to create two huge key visuals that would cover almost the entire building of the exhibition. The trick was I didn't receive any high quality materials and I there were only 4 days to deliver final work. But since it was “THE” project with a hard nights work, I managed to deliver it. The result, the people and the client loved it so much that it opened many doors for me and also led to a big Playstation 3 launch campaign in UK.


What words of wisdom could you give to inspire an artist to go out and create something today?

Always use your art as a way to express yourself and let people to witness it.

When hiring, what do you look for in a creative? What advice can you give aspiring creatives and artists in designing a CV, resume, or portfolio?

Gamer turned creativeI would expect to see potential from the applicant. It could be achieved by showing the examples of different experiments the in portfolio; which clearly state, he or she is willing to learn and make progress. Quite often people with less talent and bigger willingness to learn are far better than talented people who don't want to move forward. Making same things constantly for sure won’t make your work better. Be honest. Be yourself.

Working in the design industry requires skill, and that's a fact. The more specified they are, the better. But no matter how good your skills and portfolio are, you need to keep your expectations realistic. Be open for team cooperation, be nice to other people and work hard. During my career I have met so many incredibly talented people. Some of them didn't make it because of their attitude and inability of working in a team. The other part lost their chance cause since the beginning of their journey, they desired money way too much, and so potential employers didn't treat them seriously.

To view more of Peter Jaworowski’s and Ars Thanea’s work please visit them on the Wacom Gallery on Behance.

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