Chitchat: Henning Ludvigsen

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Your Full Name
My name is Henning Ludvigsen

Tell us about you
I’m a Norwegian guy, born in 1975, have been working since 2003 as the art director/partner in a Norwegian/Greek computer game development company in Athens, Greece. During my “spare time”, I work on other projects, like board and card games for Fantasy Flight Games, writing art related articles, and misc art and design tasks for all kinds of interesting companies.

Henning_Ludvigsen_photoAs I’m quite the geek, I naturally enjoy watching movies and TV-series, pen and paper role-playing, and listening to music whenever I can.

I have basic traditional art education, and I started working in the advertisement agency industry when I was 18 years old. After almost 10 years in the industry, I was pretty much worn out and dove without much question into the bold opportunity that opened up to me in late 2002, on moving across Europe to sunny Greece to work on computer games. I’m still here, and last year we released our first mmorpg; www.darkfallonline.com

In your opinion, what would be the secret ingredients to become a great digital artist?
This is all objective, but in my personal opinion; I think you need a fresh combination of things. Obviously talent, you have to be creative, and you need to be a hard worker. Always deliver more than you’re supposed to, act professional, and be on time and reliable.

In addition, being visible is an important element. People need to know you and your skills. Working hard to be visible online can often be even more important than pure skills. I know I’ve gotten several jobs because of this, and not necessarily because I’m the best man for the job. It’s a competitive world and profession.

Where are you located?
I’m currently living in Athens, Greece, and I have been here for over 7 years now. This is temporarily and I will locate back to Norway once it fits with my situation. I do enjoy it here, with the great warm weather, good food and beer, walking distance to the office, and of course it’s great having the beautiful Greek islands just a few hours away.

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What would be your most rewarding experience becoming a digital artist so far?
It’s hard to pinpoint anything specific. I’ve been doing this professionally for almost 17 years, and I’ve been doing all kinds of jobs in different genres. However, I think that working on our game, Darkfall, has been the most rewarding experience. It’s been a inhuman undertaking, and I won’t even say how many years we’ve worked on it. But seeing it live and kicking with players player our game and having a good time sure makes it worth all the work and sacrifices I’ve had to do to get the project done.

Where do you get inspirations from?
Usually I find inspiration in music, movies, TV-series, and quite a bit from interesting role-playing sessions I’ve had with friends. Lately I haven’t had much time for personal pieces (been almost 2 years since the last one), and working for others needs a different type of inspiration to get the project done accordingly to the clients expectations.

How do you promote/ sell/ showcase your work?
I’m trying to be visible online. I used to be very active in most of the common art communities on the internet, updating my portfolio, writing articles for magazines etc. I honestly have never asked for a single commission or project, they have all come to me, so it seem to be working well. I’ve had too much to do during the past few years, and I’m turning down new requests almost daily. Again, this is work that I’m only doing during evenings and weekends, so my time is limited due to my fill time job, working on Darkfall, my very own monster-baby.

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Do you work better at night or in the morning? Why?
I’m most definitely a night person. I have problems sleeping, suffering from insomnia, so I’m usually quite tired during the day. In the evenings I tend to feel more creative and having an easier time working on projects. However, this leads to me working on extra projects until 3 to 5am, leaving very little time for sleep, hehe.

One good thing is that I tend to work with American clients as well, and with my schedule being flipped, I can at least communicate instantly with my clients across the pond, hehe.

What is your strength as a digital artist compared to others in the industry?
I don’t consider myself anything special at all as an artist. But I do have strong work ethics, and I work hard to meet my deadlines and my clients visions. I find these things VERY important.

Who is a digital artist that you look up to? Why so?
There are too many to name, but if Boris Vallejo walked past me on the street, I would definitely have asked for his autograph, hehe. Just seeing amazing art from fellow artists can make my jaw drop, it’s more about the art than the artist, I guess.

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Describe a difficult work/ project situation and how would you overcome it?
There’s this one project I did last summer that stands out. I can’t talk about what it is and for who it was for, as it hasn’t been released yet. But it’s a major project that I am very proud of and looking forward to show off hopefully late 2010, early 2011.

I followed the instructions from the ad agency of my clients for a few months, and the feedback on my work was good. When I was done, something drastically happened and for some strange reason, the client wanted something completely different and they started looking for a new artist to do the job for them. I was naturally very confused as this was completely out of the blue, and didn’t quite understand what was going on.

I got offered to get paid fully for my work, so that wasn’t the problem, but knowing that my art wouldn’t be used on the final product isn’t a good feeling for any artist. The ad agency and I decided to work on one of the illustrations and change it into what the client wanted after they changed their minds, and they loved the changes.

In the end, I basically ended up doing the job twice even though I didn’t really have to, just because I wanted to do what ever it takes to make my client happy. This is what you have to do as an artist, sometimes you have to stretch your patience far to achieve what you want, and work hard for a happy ending. :-)

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What do you think about the Internet and how it is affecting our lifestyle?
I love the internet, it makes our world a whole lot smaller. I work over the internet, I met my girlfriend over the internet, I even shop my geek-wear, movies and music over the internet. Everything has its pros and cons, and as long as we have some set of rules, I think the good things about it will overshadow the bad things.

If you could turn back time, how would you do things differently?
I would probably get into game development earlier and not linger in the advertisement industry for as long as I did. Making adverts for all kinds of shops is ok for a while, but in the long run you don’t really have much to show to. Oh, and I would have eaten less greasy Greek food, haha.

How does the global economic recession affecting the industry, or the least affecting your business/ work?
I’m not noticing anything affecting my business. Things have never been as busy as they are now. I know people are having problems because of the rising economical disasters, and it’s a really bad thing if this goes on for too long, clearly.

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Name 3 of your favorite (art) books/ magazines.

  • Erotic Fantasy Art
  • The Art of H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos
  • ImagineFX magazine

What is your life motto?
It’s quite simply; don’t be afraid to jump into new intimidating projects, chances are you’ll impress yourself and land well on both feet with a happy client and new handy experience.

If you are using any softwares in producing your work, what are those? Do they make your work easier? How so?
I’m using Photoshop CS4 for my 2D work, and 3D Studio Max for my 3D work. They make my live a lot easier, especially when combined with my Intuos 3 tablet.

What do you like the sound of? Why so?
I prefer utter and completely silence. I do listen to music all day long, but having noises or sounds from neighbors, dogs, cars, birds, car alarms etc. disturbing my peace in my own home can make me quite uneasy, hehe.

If you have online portfolio, what is the URL?
You can see my art on my personal portfolio: http://www.henningludvigsen.com

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  1. Thank you very much for sharing your work and story with us. As a new artist in training you ispire me so much. I just watched your “Owner” time lapse video and feel even less talented than before. I have spent about 14 hours working on a rendering of my grand niece (Ja, jeg er gammel!) using a graph and I was not successful getting it to look like her. Then, I watched your totally perfect rendering without a graph and I’m humbled. I have only been drawing/painting for a little over a year. My first project took six months to complete, using every tutorial and book I could get my hands on. I am grateful that you, and artists like you, take the time to share your work and knowledge. Thank you!

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