Atlus Is Currently Hiring! Interview With "Persona" Character Designer Shigenori Soejima #DESKWATCH
Interview & article by Momoka Ito (vi)
Pictures by Satopon
I started to work at Atlus right after graduating. What is it like to work at Atlus?
It was 1995. I just graduated, and Atlus had just started to produce Revelations: Persona.
I started working there as a designer, but at the time the separation between tasks wasn't so harsh so I ended up doing a little bit of everything. Even pixel art.
For the part where I use my pen tablet, I use SAI. So lines, coloring... I use Photoshop mainly to adjust the colors and to add special effects. Sometimes I also use CLIP STUDIO.
Yes, mainly video game music. Or better, the music from the game I'm currently working for.
The atmosphere of my illustrations changes quite a lot according to what kind of music I'm listening, so I always try to get the BGM music data in advance to use it while I'm drawing.
Creators can move freely at Atlus
If you're working as a freelancer, you always have to contact your editor via phone or chat. If you work for a company, though, everyone is already there - you just need to go to their office and you can talk to them right away.
Also, you can get all the equipment you need. If you tell someone "I need this thing for my work", they're gonna buy it for you. And I'm not only talking about hardware - they'll gather resources and whatever else you need. One of the merits of working in a company is that the environment built around you is thought for work.
However, the thing I like the most is the dynamism that working for a game company creates. Many brains mean many ideas, many illustrations, many people involved in the game. I really love this about Atlus.
The disadvantage is... Having a last train home. (laughs) There are limitations on how much we can work, so if I end up staying too late someone is gonna get angry at me.
But let's think about it. You need to learn self-management this way, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.
Us designers, unlike illustrations, don't really keep drawing for hours and hours. We often look at materials and resources or have meetings. That's why I don't think the burden on our bodies is too big.
What are the limitations on character design? Joys and sorrows of group work
A thing I realized when I entered this company is that even if you're good at drawing, that doesn't mean you will make a good character designer. Competitions inside the company can get pretty harsh, but sometimes it can happen that designs from people who can't draw end up being adopted. For the initial concept, stick figures are usually better than super detailed characters.
It might be hard to get good at design if you're not that good at drawing, but I'm pretty sure that "drawing skills" and "design skills" are two completely different things. I realized all these things after joining Atlus, and since then I've always been drawing to increase my skills as a designer.
Of course, it's important to observe what's around you... But there's something less vague that you could do.
Personally, I started from asking myself: "What's the thing that I enjoy the most?"
I think when you start drawing something you're always influenced by what's popular at that time. Then, you start looking for ways to be different from the popular creators. However, you don't always get results right away. I was even scolded by my boss because I couldn't find a satisfying output, a way to be different. (laughs) He told me to just be myself and to draw what I felt like drawing.
Since that moment I started actively thinking about how to create something that was different from whatever came in the past. I started to find the things I was missing.
It's important to continuously try to perfect yourself, both by studying and by finding new interests.
Characters are not something that I make on my own, but that our team creates together. I like sharing what I made with the team, and everyone usually reacts with "Oh, so this is what this character was like!"
When I have to design a character, I start with written indications. Going from that to an actual physical image... That's the most fun that I have during my job.
Since design is quite different from plain art, there are many things that I have to consider when creating a character. I have to think that that same character will be made into a 3D model and animated... And if, for example, character A and character B are brothers they should resemble each other.
I have to base my drawings on character settings, and that leads to some limitations. It's very hard to respect those limitations while creating a good character.
Do you want it to be cool? Scary? I mix different ingredients according to the kind of persona I want to create.
However, designs that are too easy to understand can end up resulting quite boring. I like to add elements that create a little mystery... I want the players to think "why does this persona look like this?". My intent is not only to create good looking creatures but also to make the player curious about the original setting for each of them.
By entering a company, you'll have the chance to draw both things from your specialty field and things outside of it.
When I joined Atlus I was quite confident about my skills, but I can't say the same about drawing something outside my field of interest. I remember clearly what one of my senpai said to me back then: "Soejima, you pretend like you can draw anything, but you actually can't draw at all". (laughs)
So instead of working at your desk and thinking "I'd like to make this into a job one day", get out there and make it into a job.
And I hope you will choose our company!
Atlus is currently hiring! Apply through pixiv!
We are especially looking for artists, and we heard that the best place to find them is a certain treasure cave called pixiv.
No, we don't really care about that. You can apply even if you're in the middle of your career, or if you were a student quite a few years ago. People who are currently working as freelancers are also welcome to apply. We are looking for graphic creators to join our team at Atlus.
So if you're interested in becoming a character designer or an illustrator, we will be more than happy to have you!
Make your dreams come true "right now", and not "some other day"!
Such a wholesome interview, the one we had with Atlus character designer Soejima! He told us that, rather than practice at your desk, it's way better to just find a job to get your skills up!
Is it just a chance that Atlus is currently hiring new creators and staff? If you want to have a chance to make your dreams come true right now, don't miss this unique opportunity!
#DESKWATCH checks out the inspiring desks of creators and observes as they strive to deliver the best quality work.
Well then, till next time!