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"Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved." - Helen Keller
These are inspiring words from the great Helen Keller. We thought they rang especially true in the wake of our conversation with artist and art visionary, Jason Manley. His journey has not been without its obstacles, but talent, perseverance and the help and support of his friends has brought him far. And he's gonna go much farther.
We first heard about Jason like everyone else did, through his affiliation with Concept Art.Org and Massive Black. He's not only a co-founder of both companies, but also serves as their President.
Concept Art was started six years ago by Manley and two of his friends, artists Andrew Jones and Coro Kaufman. The three of them met and became buddies in their early twenties and kept in touch via the Internet. Creatively, there was a mutual respect and the interest to work and learn together—that's really how the ball got rolling. Jason had the idea of setting up a site where they could all share their projects and ideas, meet new artists, exchange information and the thing just took off from there! To date, there are 110,000 plus artists signed on as members of the CA community, posting over 1,000,000 images.
As time went on, acclaimed film artists, Chris Hatala and Pete Konig joined the group and they formed their second company, Massive Black Inc. After spending time learning from each other and sharing previous art school and industry production experiences, they agreed that working together professionally under their own banner, was their next step. A couple of partners came and went and the team eventually settled in nicely with the addition of Executive Producer, Melissa Lee and 3D Director, Dan Staton.
Started on a meager $6000 budget, Massive Black is now one of the highest profile art studios in the entertainment industry—doing work for advertising, games, toys, comics, TV and film. It offers a full line of services to its clients: green light pitch development, concept design, storyboards, illustration, rigging, animation, textures, 3D modeling, product co-development and IP creation. Since the company's inception, they've completed over 175 projects for over 125 major companies working in the field, including 18 of the top 20 video game publishers. The MB teams are located in San Francisco, Shanghai and Bangkok.
While Concept Art.Org is a non-profit educational institution serving the international community and local students at the Concept Art Atelier, Massive Black is certainly its professional and practical other side. The two companies are essentially independent, yet supportive brothers when it comes to the world of art.
We caught up with Jason in Austin, TX right in the middle of a big move and talked about all of the above and a lot more. We also get into the incredible workshops they started doing around the world and some future plans for both companies.
Oh yeah, and Jason's over the whole "not doing art" thing, so watch out!