Published on August 21, 2023
Stephen Njoto speaks to us about winning the Wētā FX Art Department Internship at the Rookie Awards 2020 and his journey into VFX.
Tell us about your studies and how you discovered Concept Art as a career?
I studied architecture with the intention of doing my masters and becoming a registered architect. But over the years I had a change in heart which prompted me to seek other creative career paths.
I managed to win runner up in a competition which was organised by Weta Workshop and the city of Gwangmyeong of South Korea. As part of the prize I got to fly to South Korea. During that trip, I met some really cool concept artists and it gave me the courage to take a leap of faith and walk away from doing my masters and pursue a career as a concept artist!
I spent all my spare time learning and practicing all things concept art related. To push my growth and challenge myself I entered dozens of competitions (including The Rookies), which was a good way to put what I was learning into practice.
How was your internship experience?
The best part of the internship was definitely the people. I got to learn from experienced veterans of the industry and concept artists whose works I’ve admired for a long time. It's a very surreal feeling to be sitting in the same room with such extraordinary individuals and watch them work up close.
The projects I got to work on covered a wide range of subject matter and also different stages of the pipeline which gave me a really good introduction.
I enjoyed every moment of the internship and dreaded the idea of leaving soon. Then, a few weeks before my internship ended, I was offered a role to stay on as a Junior Concept Artist!
What’s your favourite thing about being a Concept Artist?
Doing a job that I never thought possible in my wildest dreams - drawing for a living!
What career advice would you give to other young people starting out in VFX?
Don’t consider yourself unready just because you’re still in school or have no experience. When an opportunity presents itself, you just have to go for it, even if that means you don't tick all the boxes. You never know until you try!
What was the best piece of advice you've ever been given?
Stay positive and remember when one door closes another opens.
What are your favourite things to do outside of work?
I love working on my personal art whenever I can!
What do you love about living in Wellington?
Snorkeling and the vivid sunsets in Summer.
Can you tell us 3 things you can't live without?
Red polychromos pencils, a sketchbook and rice.
What was the last tv series you watched?
Portrait Artist of the Year.
Favourite work snack?
How do you stay inspired as an artist?
I really enjoy learning about new things, especially through watching documentaries.
Do you have any personal work outside of Wētā FX that you would like to share?
You can find my personal work on Artstation and Instagram @stephen_njoto