Follow this link and read the THU Tales with Andrés Menza


Here’s a hot tip about making the most of THU from concept artist Efflam Mercier, who attended Trojan Horse in 2014 and 2015: “Drink less, sleep more and come prepared! The person sitting next to you could be an art director, recruiter, or student, but if you're only trying to talk to people to get jobs, you're missing out so much in the long run.”

That’s a key point Mercier makes - the people who come to THU are often from so many different fields, different companies and different places. You never know who you might meet and what might come of being there. Mercier himself decided to head to THU in 2014 after finishing a project at Cube Creative and being “kind of lost of what direction to develop my career. I thought Trojan Horse could be a cool way to ask career advice from various professionals.”

And that’s exactly what happened. Mercier subsequently scored concept art jobs at Unit Image, MPC, 20th Century Fox and Riot Games, where he is now, and has worked on such projects as X-Men: Apocalypse and on Magic: The Gathering cards. But prior to working on some of the big films and games that these companies were part of, Mercier’s way into the industry might sound somewhat familiar to many other artists out there.

It began with a love of drawing, and it continued with a love of video games. “Around the age of nine,” recalls Mercier, “I got my first online video game - Guild Wars: Prophecies. Unfortunately my CD key was wrong and I couldn't play the game. We spent two months calling the customer service and during all that time I only had the game guide; an amazing little book filled with concept art from Daniel Dociu, Kekai Kotaki and Jaime Jones, as well as stories about the lore of the game. I was nine, so of course I was totally blown away when we got the game to actually start.”

At the same time, Mercier would find matte painting videos and visual effects demo reels online, which led him to trying out software like Blender and After Effects. “This really got the ball rolling for me,” he says. “I stopped playing video games and went 100 per cent into 3D VFX and developed a love for movies. I took the IMDB top 250 and watched them all, one by one.”

Mercier quickly moved onto YouTube videos on concept art. With a new graphics tablet he began painting in Photoshop, but admits “it took me such a long time to realize I could actually combine all of these fields.” Eventually the artist moved into the industry doing daily speed paints (between seven and ten per day!), which he posted on his blog. A recruiter noticed the blog and Mercier soon moved to Paris for ‘a crazy adventure’. 

That’s when THU came in, which Mercier says had a hand in guiding his new career. “The first THU honestly was one of the best weeks of my life. Up to that point I never really felt connected, part of something like this. It was also the realization that all my heroes were humans, not geniuses, not mutants, but real, struggling, panicking - and improving - humans.”

At that first THU, Mercier met lighting artist and DP Afonso Salcedo during a mentorship session. “He looked at my portfolio and asked what I wanted to do. I said ‘film’,  he said, ‘Oh, I know the VFX supervisor at Framestore, I should introduce you’. Now even though I didn't ended up going to Framestore, the really interesting thing was this paradigm shift. I realized that if you're good enough, people will be happy to help, and all of a sudden it's not a fight to ‘get in the industry’ but rather a personal battle against mediocrity.”

But, like so many other Trojan Horse attendees, that experience at THU was not the end of the benefits for Mercier. “THU is where things begin,” he suggests. “It is where I met friends who are now kind of an extended international family. It included art directors who I later enjoyed working with, recruiters who changed my career several months after the event.”

“Now that I have a really cool job (at Riot),” adds Mercier, “it's mostly the ‘tribe’ that stays after the event, a bunch of cool random people from all across the globe, connected by the same crazy experience.” 


Follow this link and read the THU Tales with Andrés Menza