College for Creative Studies: Product Design
To inspire his students, Professor Robert Schefman once told his class, “You can change the world with a pencil and a sketchbook.” The words resonated with Joe Studzinski and changed the way he looked at himself.
“It was so simple,” said Studzinski, “but at that time in my life it hit me like a ton of bricks.”
Now a successful concept artist, Studzinski is responsible for creating the overall look of projects, sometimes referred to as visual development.
“Anything that goes into a game has to be carefully thought out and designed to fit,” he explained. “From the mood and lighting to an environment to the kind of boots the hero is wearing—it's my job to design them and bring them to life.
“Being surrounded by talented people every day forces me to dig deep and explore what I'm capable of and where I need improvements. The learning process is so inspiring; that inspiration turns hard work and diligence into passion. I'm grateful for that opportunity.”
Prior to his position at Ready at Dawn, Studzinski spent two years as a junior concept artist at Midway Games inChicagowhile freelancing.
“I learned from some of the best artists in the industry while working at Midway,” Studzinski said.
Studzinski remembers feeling unsure of himself and the path he should choose when he first began taking classes at CCS. He credits quality faculty for leading him in the right direction and his family for being supportive.
“The foundation drawing class I took with Zdzislaw Sikora during my freshman year was inspiring to me,” said Studzinski. “His enthusiasm and passion was so rich; it made me look at myself and my work in a totally different way.
“My last two years in school were dedicated to combining illustration and industrial design to become a concept artist. I had to prove myself and convince my professors that I was serious about my career path. If it wasn’t for Gil Ashby (IL) and Ken Krayer (ID), I would not be where I am today. They saw that I was driven, and, to their credit, they believed in me and gave me room to explore. The work that I was allowed to accomplish in my final year was crucial to my portfolio. It helps me get work to this day!
“I also appreciate the support I received from my family while I was in school and beyond. Thank you!”
In his spare time, Studzinski has started taking up a different kind of art—music.
“There's so much to learn out there, and the more that I dive into other creative fields the more I seem to benefit,” he said. “I've been exploring music the most outside of work. There's just something about playing an instrument… It seems to involve every inch of your soul. It's beautiful!”