Interview with Concept Artist Nathan Schroeder

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Pleasure to present my interview with talented concept artist Nathan Schroeder. 
Nathan's visionary work is seen on over 20 movies including Pirates of the Caribbean ,Captain America, Thor, The A-Team, Tron and recently The Avengers. Nathan shared an insight on a variety of topics such as his concept art,creative process, working on Avengers and more. Enjoy!

Can you tell readers a bit about yourself and what you do.


I am a concept artist in the motion picture industry.  On every film, people like me are hired to design everything that you will see in a film that has to be created.  Some of us specialize in characters, some of us do vehicles or props, some of us create environments.  We work for one person, called the Production Designer, who is the lead supervisor of the Art Department.  He sets the parameters for the overall design of the film – the tone, the style, the color scheme, etc...  He then instructs us to create artwork to illustrate this.  Sometimes we have a lot of freedom to create, and sometimes we have very specific directions and references we need to adhere to.  

When did your interest in art start?

I have always been interested in drawing and building models for as long as I can remember.


Reading your bio, you started working in graphite and now your works are photoshop and maya based.
How did that transition come about and what is your take on digital art vs traditional art.

The transition was arduous.  When I first started, there were no computers in the Art Department, and the programs that were available were very limited.  I saw a lot of potential in Photoshop very early, and started learning version 4.0.  I also tried to get into 3D modeling early on, but it was somewhat of a Wild West in the beginning with so many programs.  I learned one program called Presenter Pro that seemed to disappear, so I sifted through the programs that seemed to have a future and settled on Maya, which as anyone knows is very difficult to learn.  It has taken many years to become proficient, and it took many years to convince the Production Designers of the value of these programs.  Now, of course it is absolutely required to be 3D savvy to survive in the business.

How difficult/easy is it working for a client compared to working on your personal project.

I don’t do much personal work, but I actually enjoy working on other people’s projects.  I like to think of myself as a problem solver.  I enjoy the challenge of creating something within the context of a very specific set of demands.


Most challenging project yet.

Every movie is a challenge at some point in the process.  The most challenging projects are those in which the Production Designer or the Director can’t articulate what they want effectively.  Or if someone doesn’t know what they want, and they are looking for someone else to show them what they want.

Working on projects based on adaptation material like your recent Avengers work, how do you incorporate
the material into life. Do you use the original materials as reference and inspirations or use your own creative/artistic touch.

Every movie to me, is similar to an actor taking on a new role – each one is unique, but not undefined.  The story will dictate what is needed, the Production Designer will lay out a vision, including copious reference materials, and we work from there.  I, of course, bring to the table my years of experience and creativity.  I do love to look at lots of reference images, and let the material percolate in my imagination to stimulate the creativity.


Most important factor to you when working on a project.

Working with good, creative people.

Personally i am a big fan of marvel comics and i love your artistic and cinematic concepts for all your marvel work..
How was it like working on all the seven marvel properties and which one did you like working on the most?

Actually, since I finished Thor 2 this will be eight Marvel films.  They have all been fun, and it’s really only coincidental that I have done so many, since each film was for a different Production Designer.  I enjoyed working on AVENGERS the most because I had a blast working with James Chinlund, and he placed a great deal of trust in me.


I am sure you are a comics fan,if so ,what character in the comics universe do you think deserve a big-screen adaptation?

I’m ashamed to admit that I’m not big comic book fan.  I knew most of the characters growing up, but I was not a collector.  The characters I do know have all been adapted to film, so I don’t know who would be a good candidate.

Top 3 visually inspiring movies.

(sorry, 3 is not enough)
Barry Lyndon
Apocalypse Now
Blade Runner
Days of Heaven
2001:  A Space Odyssey
What Dreams May Come

Top 3 directors/film visionaries.
(again, 3 is not enough)
Stanley Kubrick
Francis Ford Coppola
Peter Weir
Terence Malick
Alfred Hitchcock
Sergio Leone

Besides arts and films what else are you passionate about.
My family, my faith, and music.  If ever go blind, I will become a musician.

In your opinion how will you define creativity.

Doing the same thing over and over and getting a different result.

Favorite spot in LA.

Broadway in downtown L.A.  Amazing historical architecture including the Bradbury building from Blade Runner, and the grand old movie palaces.

What is next for you, any personal project ?

I’m looking forward to several possible movies, but can’t say what at the moment. 

What do you like most about what you do.

I love creating artwork – it’s what I do best.





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