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#5 Cosmic Convos with Sailor Mars feat. Zeronis

Welcome to already my fifth Cosmic Convos! I am very proud of the artist I was able to talk to this week. If you are familiar with the game industry then you should definitely know him. He has worked on many iconic characters for League of Legends and has also become a very successful NFT artist in the last year. He is very helpful and loves to share his knowledge with emerging artists.

Even though I’m not an artist or a big gamer myself, I feel like I learned a lot from my conversation with him. His career story is very inspiring and I hope it can provide motivation for upcoming artists who are just starting out. He is truly a brilliant artist in my opinion and I can’t wait to see how he develops in this fast-moving industry. I think he is on his way to becoming a legend himself just like his beloved characters. Enjoy reading my conversation with Zeronis!

Rei: Hi Paul, I really love your artist name Zeronis. How did you come up with it?

Zeronis: Thank you! I think I thought about the name in my head in Korean and it sounded really cool at the time haha. I guess the meaning or representation can be interpreted as nothingness which could also be the vastness of space and time.

Rei: Can you tell me more about yourself in general?

Zeronis: My real name is Paul Kwon, a Korean American born in Phoenix AZ in United States. I was a self taught artist who grew up loving to draw characters especially Final Fantasy characters and Star Craft units for fun! I like spending time indoors as an introvert playing games and creating characters from my imagination. Art was started out as a hobby so I wasn’t formerly trained by anyone or at an art school until I went to college in LA.

Rei: I know that you’ve worked in the game industry for a long time and have worked for well-known game developers. Can you tell me more about how your art career started and how it evolved over the years to where you are now?

Zeronis: So becoming an artist has been an unpopular career choice, at least in my friend group and high school in general.  A lot of my friends were smarter than me and studied hard to become lawyers, doctors, and engineers. So initially I followed the same path also because my dad has a doctorate degree in computer science engineering. I quickly realized that it wasn’t for me after trying it out for a year. I liked art but I was uncertain about majoring in art so I chose a path that’s close which was product design.
After 2 years of it, I had to submit my portfolio to proceed to the upper-division but I was rejected realizing maybe my heart wasn’t into it and I didn’t try hard enough. I learned about the Pasadena school called Art Center College of Design so I spent 3 months putting together what I thought was an ok portfolio, I got in and even some scholarships as well. So that’s how my career in Concept Art started.

Also, after a year of going to Art Center, I landed an internship offer at Blizzard Entertainment which was great! I had a connection with Samwise Didier because Blizzard sent the prize of the Blizzcon Fan Art Contest to the wrong person so instead, they gave me a tour of their HQ and invited me to meet the Art Directors of Star Craft and WOW. So it worked out! Thank god they sent the prize to someone else. So shortly after the Internship, I was contacted by Riot Games where I started as a freelance concept artist designing Ahri and Hecarim. At first, my impression of Riot was pretty underwhelming in comparison to Blizzard but I think I made a good career leap of faith deciding to go full-time and not finish the education at Art Center. Now after 10 years, I’m working full-time at Timi Studio and also making NFT’s part-time.

Rei: I think it’s really impressive, considering how good you are, that you mentioned that you’re a mostly self-taught artist. When did you start making art and how did you become so good today?

Zeronis: So when I moved to USA from South Korea, I didn’t speak English so the best way for me to make friends was by giving drawings of Cloud Strife to friends. I wasn’t really into reading or paying attention to the class. I was always focused on playing games and living in that world by making fan arts for fun. I think that’s how I was naturally motivated to always create characters and sorta taught myself. I think there’s definitely a quicker way to learn but I did a lot of master copies and studies from life. I guess I did grind a lot to get to where I am today. But I do tell my students to learn the fundamentals, master the boring stuff first before skipping to the fun stuff.

Rei: Nowadays you’re also a very successful NFT artist. When and why exactly did you transition into the NFT space and how has this experience been so far?

Zeronis: I learned about it this year around March 2021. Before that, I was suffering from chronic RSI (Repetitive Stress Injury) so my priority switched to becoming financially stable. That’s why I also did the Patreon work for fun but also to have that extra side income while working fulltime at Riot. I think when I learned about NFT, I realized that I could potentially achieve financial sustainability and the creative opportunity to invest in myself as well. Honestly, it’s been pretty much a wild ride with things changing so quickly. I have never felt this excited but also anxious before. But most importantly, I think meeting some awesome creators and collectors within the community has been pretty amazing.

Rei: Seeing your art you must be an anime fan like myself, but what are your sources of inspiration to make your art specifically?

Zeronis: My main source of inspiration I guess would be Final Fantasy and Blizzard games that really influenced my love for art. Nowadays, I get inspired by so many things so it’s constantly shifting. Mainly I think I’m always discovering new artists and incredible art I see on Twitter posts. Also, It’s great seeing some Indie games making bold choices on artistic directions, and also the mobile gacha games are always super inspiring.

Rei: Which other artists do you look up too? 

Zeronis: It’s probably hard to name them all in the NFT space as I’m seeing many artists I follow on Twitter joining the NFT space which is awesome to see! But I would say Arnold Tsang of Overwatch game is one of my main inspirational artists within the NFT space.  The artists I look up to mainly are Japanese artists such as Yoji Shinkawa, Shigenori Soejima, Yusuke Kozaki, and Akihito Yoshida. There are too many to name but these are my main inspirations especially as a character designer.

Rei: Do have a specific message that you want to convey with your art?

Zeronis: As you know, I draw lots of female characters. But for the record, I did design champions like Tryndamere, Darius, Jayce, Rengar, and many male skins within League, but for the longest time, I loved conveying female characters beautifully and showing them as powerful main characters. I mentioned a lot that the favorite champ I got to design for League was VI. Because I always thought of her as potentially a strong main protagonist of a story. That was the reason why she has that iconic tattoo on her face. I guess I’m a bit obsessed and always striving to find that holy grail which is to create very artistic, fashionable, aspirational, and beautiful characters. But ultimately, I want my art to help the viewers and characters to connect emotionally.

Rei: Do you have any specific goals you want to achieve in the NFT space or with your art in general?

Zeronis: Ideally, I want to create my own metaverse world for collectors, and the community to immerse themselves in the world I poured my soul into. I think that would be the dream! It’s one step at a time for sure but I want to leave this world thinking I have contributed by giving something special and timeless to the community. I have been working on the Deathverse world for a while so that would be cool to create a world where you can explore fully immersed as characters of Zeroverse!

Rei: I can imagine that many aspiring artists look up to you. I love that you’ve mentioned that you want to help by sharing your knowledge because you’ve been in their shoes. How exactly do you do this?

Zeronis: So far I tried by streaming on Twitch and Youtube which I need to invest a lot more time into! Otherwise, I have done some teachings here and there trying to help the students the best way I can. I also have a prerecorded online class where I shared my knowledge on drawing and painting beautiful female portraits on Class101.

Rei: Imagine how the world would evolve over the next 25 years. How would this look like to you and what place would NFTs have in this world?

Zeronis: I am a huge fan of AI, the implications of how this will affect us in the future. Singularity, General AI, Quantum Mechanics and Neuralink, I think this rapid growth in technologies will allow us to achieve these visions of metaverse a lot more quickly than we imagined. I think of myself as an optimist when it comes to change so I’m really excited to see where we will be in 25 years. I wished I was smarter to understand these implications more in details but I enjoy listening to smart scientists and engineers talk about it on podcasts like Lex Fridman. I mean, imagine our artworks, or even characters that are created by super talented creators outliving the creators as fully sentient beings? Imagine even ourselves, our consciousness copied and pasted into the metaverse living on with our characters after the physical bodies have perished. I think we are at such an early phase of the eventuality.

Rei: Lastly, where can people find your beautiful art?

Zeronis: They can find more at Artstation, Instagram, Twitter, Foundation & Patreon.

 

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*All investment/financial opinions expressed by NFT Plazas are from the personal research and experience of our site moderators and are intended as educational material only. Individuals are required to fully research any product prior to making any kind of investment.

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