Interviews Journeys

Alessandro Baldasseroni’s Journey as a World-Class Character Artist, Italian Values & More

At DUNIA Magazine, we have always believed that greatness is a universal concept, that you can look into every corner of the world and find people whose stories will inspire you greatly.

The gentleman you are about to meet is the creative mind behind characters you may have seen on TV, in movies and commercials, or that you and your kids have played with in video-games.

Alessandro Baldasseroni was born in Milan, Italy and moved to Los Angeles, U.S.A. some 10 years ago.

As you read about his journey (better told in his own words), you will learn of commitment and passion for what started as a hobby and later developed into a career as magnificent as the outstanding body of work he creates, and of core values to which Alessandro is grounded as a person.

Mr Baldasseroni’s journey strongly personifies these words by Canadian journalist and author Malcolm Gladwell, “We learn by example and by direct experience because there are real limits to the adequacy of verbal instruction.”

Alessandro Baldasseroni, Deadpool Art
Deadpool by Alessandro Baldasseroni

Name: Alessandro Baldasseroni
Country of Origin: Italy
Profession: Character Artist

Welcome to DUNIA Alessandro. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

Alessandro Baldasseroni interviewMy name is Alessandro Baldasseroni and I currently work and live in Los Angeles as a character artist for films, games and commercials. I am currently hired full time at Riot Games as Senior Character Artist in the company’s look and development division.

As far as my background I can attest that I unfortunately didn’t attain any specific artistic studies when I was younger, as a matter of fact I studied Information Science in the beginning (to become a programmer) and some years later I attended university. It wasn’t really for me. After mandatory military service in 1995, I quit university and got a job as Cad Operator in a telecommunications company in Milan. It was during these years that I came in contact with a software that I would go on to use for almost 2 decades: 3D Studio Max. I remember practicing with this 3D computer graphic software at home all the time after work…it was intoxicating and at the time there were not many resources as far as tutorials and courses, so it was all about experimenting for long hours to get some decent (for the time) images out of a computer screen.

It became my hobby and passion and I built a small online portfolio with my 3D creations. One day I submitted that portfolio to a videogame company in Milan just out of curiosity and I was shocked when they asked me in for an interview. It was a turning point for me…I joined the videogame industry in that very moment.

I worked full time in videogames in Milan for that game developer: Milestone from 2002 to 2006. During that time, I also was very active doing personal artworks in my spare time and posting them online on forums, mostly CGTalk (the actual CGSociety) and on a few others.

The online popularity helped me to get noticed by a few companies outside Italy. Among them, Blur Studio based in Venice (CA) expressed some specific interest in my work.

Blur asked me if I was interested in doing some remote freelancing for them on character modeling and I accepted gladly because it was a real challenge considering that before that I always made characters just for fun but never professionally.

They seemed to be pretty satisfied with my work on characters, and I free-lanced for them for more than a year.

Keep in mind at that time I still had my regular full time job at Milestone, so I had to make time to work on Blur’s assets after work in the evening and often on the weekends to be able to deliver on time. At some point Blur asked me if I was interested in relocating in-house to Venice, probably because they finally had an open position as staff character modeler.

I didn’t think about it twice, I accepted with enthusiasm. Blur put their lawyers at work to get me a O1 Visa (working permit for the US). The whole process took about 8 months and finally I moved to Los Angeles in October 2007.

I am currently (2 years now) hired full time at Riot Games as a senior character artist and I have a past of 8 years as lead character artist at Blur Studio.

Samples of my character modeling work can be seen in several recent game cinematics, movies and commercials such as: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Thor: The Dark World, Deadpool, Elder Scrolls Online, Batman Arkham Origins, Star Wars The Old Republic, Star Wars The Force Unleashed, Farcry 3, Fable 3, Mass Effect 2, Halowars, Dante’s Inferno, NFL on Fox, Goldfish Crackers and many more.

My artworks and illustrations have been featured in several international magazines and artbooks (3DArtist, 3DWorld, Expose, Elemental, D’Artiste Character Modeling, Digital Art Masters, Zbrush: Character Modeling – Games Workshop). I am also a Member of the Visual Effects Society and I published in 2013 as instructor the educational DVD “Stylized character modeling for production” for the Gnomon School Of Visual Effects in Los Angeles.

In the last 3 years I have also contributed to the making of a number of different statues and collectibles for North American and Japanese manufacturers such as Sideshow Collectibles and Prime1 Studio.

Tell us about a project that was a turning point for you professionally.

I don’t think I really had turning points as far as projects I have been working on but as far as “highlights” I can say that working at Blur Studio for the pitch of “Deadpool”, making Deadpool itself in 3D…helping make that major feature film happen was quite a satisfaction.

Born in Milan and now residing in L.A., what would you say is the best piece of advice you were given growing up? What are some of your core values as an Italian?

I remember one which basically points out the fact that happiness in life and identification as a human being can’t only be related to your job and that in the long run, well…a job is just a job.

As far as my core values growing up as Italian I can say I tend to commit firmly and my word matters, I try to stay truthful to what I say. And I care about friendships and company in my life, I always did, same for family.

There’s this piece of advice from one of my ex-coworkers in Milano which turned-out to be quite useful in my career. He was telling me, “Do not fall too much in love with your art, especially when you work for clients”. Truth of the matter is that production art doesn’t really belong to executioners and artists like me, but to the people who pay, so to save frustrations it’s always wise to have a detached (but professional) attitude when it comes to that.

Another great piece of advice (or pearl of wisdom) came from my mom few days before I left my country to move to the US. She asked me why I was moving to another country if I had a job already in my hometown (Milan). I told her it was because I would have better career opportunities in the U.S., a better job overall. She replied laconically, “Alessandro, a job is just a job, wherever you go”. In its simplicity, maybe that sentence contained great wisdom telling me to not sacrifice my personal life for any kind of job.

3D design seems to be evolving pretty fast, how do you keep up?

Basically just keeping myself informed on new technologies, software and trends through every possible way the internet has to offer, which includes mostly social media and specialized forums. But that alone is not enough, so I really try to cut out time to actually practice what I see around; it helps, the fact that I have fun doing computer graphics even as a hobby for my personal artwork.

What other forms of art do you strongly identify with and why?

Definitely, for the nature of my job, even if my tools are primary digital I strongly identify myself with sculpting and figurative arts – illustrations. I create digital characters for a living and these 3D models of characters can be used for different purposes, as computer animation for entertainment or they can be 3D printed as physical objects. It’s not a simple matter of executing something in a given time, there are aesthetic factors that need to be taken into consideration and we struggle with that every single day. The main difference from traditional art forms is that with digital tools it’s easier to undo things and consequently to experiment more.

In closing, could you share some words of inspiration with readers?

I can tell based on my own experience that whatever path you decide to follow, follow it because you really like what you are doing, you have a good amount of genuine passion and fun and not for mere convenience. Maybe it won’t be the most profitable thing, or field, but in the long run you will have a great amount of satisfaction and your job won’t feel like so much of a burden.

Personal portfolio:

Lema is on Twitter: @LemaNsah.

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