Who is Henning Ludvigsen?
Ever since Henning was just a few years old he has been interested in drawing and painting, and already made his mind up about becoming an illustrator when he was still at very young age. At the age of 16 he enrolled into a Traditional Art school and after graduating two years later he started working in the advertisement industry. Only nine years after that he already became an Art Director of a medium sized advertisement agency.
In 2003 one of Henning’s hobby projects offered him the opportunity to switch over his carreer into computer game development, moving from his hometown Holmestrand, Norway to Athens, Greece where he still works today as the Art director and partner of Aventurine S.A.
Over the years Henning has won multiple awards, done a lot of freelance work for many big names and written articles, tutorials and workshops for several magazines (Including 56 articles over 35 issues in ImagineFX Magazine)
Boris Vallejo was a big inspiration for you, what are your thoughts on you and your work also being a source of inspiration for other artists and art fans now?
I don’t really consider myself much of an artist, but rather an illustrator. Guess this is open for individual perception and interpretation, though. Still, if anyone can find some kind of inspiration in my work, then I guess I’ve succeeded. Be it finding the urge to sit down and create something, or being inspired by specific elements in my illustrations, or of course gaining anything from my online tutorials.
It is no secret that you are quite a workaholic, do you still have time for any personal projects, and did you ever finish building that giant Lego Millennium Falcon piece you got for your birthday?
Hehe, you’re quite right that I’m working a lot. My average amount of working-hours during week days varies from 12 to 18 hours, and then a bit less during weekends. I had a revelation recently as I started to feel very worn out and noticed that my last personal piece was made over 2 years ago. Of course I consider myself lucky to get more requests that I can handle, leaving me with the option to pick the projects that I enjoy doing, like board games, but pushing yourself hard over a longer period of time will eventually put a stop to most things.
So, from of the end of 2010 I decided to turn down pretty much all requests and extra projects, apart from one or two major clients and start working on personal projects again. I’ve started this little mini-game endeavor with a good friend of mine, where we’re currently spending our spare time making fun little computer games (www.badgerpunch.com). So I’m not doing that much 2D painting at the moment, but it feels good making something for myself on my own terms again. And no, I haven’t been able to build the Lego Millennium Falcon yet, hehe. I brought it back home to Norway last summer, so it’s waiting for me there for when I’m moving back. Should be fun!
Knowing that you like to use photo references for inspiration I can’t help but wonder, what are you hiding in your basement to use as reference for painting all those realistic looking tentacles?
Yes, looking at references is VERY important when painting. Your mind usually have an opinion on what things looks like or how things work, like light and shadows, drapes, and especially faces. When looking at references, you get to see how the little details are, how light and shadows actually works, and you get to capture more personality and imperfections in faces, etc.
Each time my good old school-buddy Cthulhu drives through town, I usually meet up with him and have a couple of drinks. And that always ends up with great ideas and fun tentacle reference photo sessions, haha. :-P
Out of all the projects you’ve done, which one(s) are you most proud of and which one(s) did you enjoy most doing?
Well, there are many projects I’m proud of being a part of, like the Call of Cthulhu and Civilization board games, the 4 Burton Snowboard designs, Warhammer 40K, but what stands out is naturally the project I’m working on full time; the MMORPG Darkfall online.
I’ve been a part of this project from the very beginning, which is now over 13 years! (Eeek!). We were just a small group of friends back in Norway wanting to make a cool MMO, and now here we are, so many years later down here in Greece with a fully functioning company and a released game. Still, it’s been a massive undertaking and I’ve done insanely many sacrifices to get here, so I can’t say that it’s been the most enjoyable project of the lot. But at the same time, the feeling of accomplishment when we released the game is pretty much unbeatable.
All projects have their pros and cons, but I think that the project I had the most fun and less complications doing is the Call of Cthulhu Mansions of Madness board game that I did quite recently. I went a bit out of my way with details, but that’s what I love about it. And I want to mention that I’m currently having a blast working on our next upcoming mini-game; GravityRun.
That leads us to the obvious next question, are there any projects that you struggled with or hated so much doing that they still haunt you in your nightmares?
Well Darkfall has no doubt been the hardest struggle, simply because of the amount of years I’ve been working on it and because of the sheer complexity of the game. I dare to assume that this is THE most complex and largest MMO world ever made, and it’s had its share of challenges throughout the development process. But then again, the fact that we made it evens it all out, and all the things I’ve learned from this process is insane.
There are other projects I’ve done for my own clients that evolved into some kind of weird complicated nightmarish hauntings, but I don’t want to share this openly, hehe. Luckily, this doesn’t happen very often.
Winning multiple awards for your art, writing for magazines and having a job as art director and partner of a game developing company, what goals are there left for you that you would like to achieve?
I would love to be able to continue doing what I love, which is pretty much what I’m doing right now. I would also love to be able to do this from my home country. I’ve been living here in Athens for over 8 years now, and I’m still not really used to this city. I’ve got nothing against Greece, the islands are amazing and just a cheap ferry trip away, but Athens is a very noisy and unforgiving place to live over the long run, at least when you’re used to living in a small, quiet place with more structure and organization. Do love the weather, though.
With everything around us constantly evolving, what do you think will happen to art as we know it now, in the future? Do you think traditional art will get replaced by digital art completely?
From what I see, digital mediums have pretty much taken over the majority of all visual design related industry and also art. But having traditional art education, I naturally hope and think that traditional mediums will always have a place in most areas. I don’t this we’ll ever see a complete replacement of techniques, but I’m assuming that the digital genre will take over even more than is has done so far.
Just like art video games are evolving at a rapid pace too, do you think it will ever reach the ultimate form of the Virtual Reality worlds we know from Sci-Fi movies?
I sure hope not, as the VR worlds acted out in movies always seem kind of silly to me, haha. Still, visually, LOTS has happened just during the past couple of years, and we’re currently seeing a vast improvement in realism in computer games. I think games will get dangerously close to movies in the future, and I don’t believe we have to wait for long for that to happen.
Both you and your girlfriend Natascha are great digital artists, in what way do you influence each others work?
Nataschas work is great, and it’s a pity not seeing her paint any more. I don’t think we get much influenced by each others work, apart from asking for feedback from each other to take under consideration during the creation process. I hope to see her picking up her Wacom pen again.
I read on twitter that you’re getting glasses for when you are working. Does this mean that your art will get even more impressive now?
Haha, oh well. Luckily I don’t have bad eyesight, just a slight issue from sitting too much in front of the screen. I’m only using the glasses every now and then whilst working to rest my eyes and prevent it from getting worse. Haven’t gotten used to them yet, though. I don’t think it’ll improve my doodles much, unfortunately.
You have worked in the digital art scene for quite a while now. What is the strangest request you have ever got from a client?
It’s been a few years. I started out on the Commodore 64 back in the 80’s, and later changed to the Amiga platform, then Mac and lastly PC. I’ve had many strange requests throughout the years, but it’s still hard to remember which one is the strangest one.
There’s this one project where I had to paint retro style pin-up girls from real life, deceased historical local American people, in a sexy fashion. A bit of a unique request, but had a fair bit of fun with it at the same time.
I also recently got a request to paint pin-ups of elderly, wrinkly women for some Viagra inspired advertisement, which I gently turned down.
A lot of people, including myself, are taking their first steps into the world of digital art. Do you have any advice for those who are just starting out?
Personally, I’ve gained a lot from having traditional art education. Knowing the basics of art is definitely something you should know especially if you’re thinking of making a living out of it. Traditional techniques can even be transferred more or less directly into digital work flow as well, which is great.
Also, obviously, paint A LOT. Do daily sketches, even if it only means spending 5 to 10 minutes doing a rough doodle.
And lastly, don’t be afraid to take on projects, even if you don’t think you’re ready for them. In most cases you’ll surprise yourself, just be careful with the amount of projects. Keep your head above water.
If you want to know more about Henning or would like to see more of his work pay a visit to his website at henningludvigsen.com or at any of the other links at the bottom of the page.
Find Henning at: