2 months ago - Hippy - Direct link
As promised in this week’s TWAB, we’ve got the artist behind those spiffy new Arbalest Exotic ornaments that are now up for community voting in the spotlight as our latest Community Focus. Here is where we, as a community, can learn a little more about a fellow Guardian and their journey into the world of Destiny and the ever-expansive universe of art.  
From Halo to Destiny 2, from aspiring artist to working alongside the studio behind some of their favorite games—meet the creator behind the art: StellarStateLogic! 
Thanks so much for chatting with us! To start off, tell us a little bit about yourself! Who are you? What do you like to do? How did you get your start in Destiny?  

[Waves from orbit]—Hi, this is StellarStateLogic. Those who know me usually call me Stellar, or SSL. For those who are wondering about the name, it comes from Solid State Logic—the mixing console—and my love of all things sparkle (hence the Stellar). 
I do a little bit of everything in 2D art. You may have come across some of my UI mock-ups, weapon concepts, armor set designs, Ghost Shell ideas, illustrations, phone backgrounds, or character designs without ever knowing that I was the creator. I love what I do, which means there’s a lot of what I do out there. 
Outside of video games and the usual scribbling, I enjoy manga, anime, books, film, music, dice collecting, making Gunpla models, and cat videos. The last part should be no surprise. Who doesn’t like cat videos? 

Regarding how Destiny came into my life, we’ll need to briefly reject the chaos of 2022 and return to 2010. A time when my group of lore-enthusiast Halo friends were talking about the Destiny easter egg in Halo 3: ODST, and all of us were so sure that the sphere was just a huge moon, and the next Halo game might be about that location as a focus. So, when Destiny debuted and we saw the Traveler, it was a mixed bag of many different feelings. I wasn't super sold on the idea, mainly because my excitement was with what I knew: Halo. Then I saw the gameplay trailer where the huge Spider Tank lands, and I was like, “Oh, I gotta play this game.” I even drew my very first Destiny fan art soon after, about a month before D1’s release, though I may have mistaken the Hunter for a Warlock... 

While I couldn’t play it right out of the gate, Destiny always remained on my radar, and I enjoyed hearing stories about this new adventure. Fast forward to 2015, when The Taken King made its splash, all of my Halo friends that were now playing Destiny were going nuts about how the content had evolved, and the pure enrapture of the expansion’s story. That had me sold, but the definitive moment for me as a Destiny newbie was during the Regicide mission, where the pale Hive Soulfire extended through the pitch darkness to form the Oryx sigil, opening up to the arena overlooking a vast, sorrowful sky full of dead debris while the iconic Oryx bass honked from my speaker system. At that very moment, I experienced the artistic philosophy of Destiny and this so-called “new era of Bungie” type of vibe, and I knew it would be a game worth sticking by. I haven’t stopped playing ever since… Except there was a hiatus during Forsaken because Cayde-6 is my favorite character, and I took his loss a little hard. 

RIP to the fallen Hunter. Speaking of inspiration, your art is incredible. What has your journey looked like so far when crafting your personal art style? What even got you into art in the first place?  
It’s always very surreal to hear people commenting kindly to my creations, so normally I would reply, “thank you,” but the meaning behind the gratitude is more than just pleasantries… 

Long story short, since my backstory isn’t very pleasant: I began drawing before elementary school but making art and anything to do with fiction was taboo in our household growing up. I wish I was exaggerating. I don't even have any art I created before the age of 14 because it was all destroyed due to that taboo, which was heartbreaking. I drew characters, wrote stories between the margins, and overlaid the printed texts of my textbooks, hidden away from anyone who wouldn’t want to see them, but still there for me. It’s simply impossible for me to not draw. During high school, I started saving my allowance to buy video game concept art books published by Japanese publishers such as Famitsu. By reading and learning how that art worked, why it had to be drawn in specific ways, I got into wanting to make art based on the video games I love. I hid them as best as I could while I lived with my family and have since brought them with me everywhere I’ve gone. I still marvel at my art and what I love being openly displayed on my bookshelves now. It’s a good feeling.  

I had originally wanted to get into game development, but that ended up not happening due to a darker period in my life while I was an undergrad at my local college’s art program. I was disowned by my family for “being a failure” because of my decision to leave my original career path behind. I’ve even had people in the games industry— people I’ve looked up to—say that I would never be able to work in games. It was a really hard time; I was so tempted to give up.  

I was devastated, depressed, but worst of all, I’d lost the ability to draw. The mere thought of picking up a pencil would drown me in this dreadful, self-destructive belief of being in a worthless and undeserving existence. So instead, as an escape, I began collecting art books, and visiting exhibitions to soak in the great artists of the past. This period of wandering without creating lasted for a few years until one day, I came across the videos of Kim Jung-Gi’s live drawing sessions and became inspired by his persistence and vision. I told myself I couldn’t be sad like that forever. There are characters, worlds, and stories that I want to bring into this world.  

Looking back, it’s a miracle I’m not only here, but sharing my art with a community I love and working alongside a studio I have admired for so long. So, when I say, “Thank you,” I’m also thanking those who have shared their love with me. I’m thankful for each supportive and positive thought that has become the force to help me keep going and be a better person. Thank you for being that Light when Darkness weighs heavily. 

That was honestly so beautiful. It means the world that you shared with us.  
Switching gears a bit on the note about working alongside us! You've crafted some mighty fine Arbalest ornaments for the community to vote on. What has that process been like for you so far? Any parts you've enjoyed the most? Any unique challenges that you weren't expecting?  
If there’s a word to describe the feeling I’ve felt since the moment I was contacted for the gig, it would be “grateful,” though I feel that barely scratches the surface. There are a million other parallel universes where another artist who’s more capable and familiar with the task would’ve been chosen. I know for a fact that we have so many incredible artists in the Destiny 2 community that are recognized for not only being very creative in their design skills and visual communication, but are also celebrated for their specialized skills in weapon-related arts, yet... why me? I’m just someone who does a little bit of everything to my heart’s content. I honestly don’t even know what I am known for in our community, but I'm happy to be here!  

It’s been about 50 percent honoring the trust that Bungie extended to me and trying to do my best within Bungie’s production schedule, and 50 percent gushing over the creations and hoping that everybody in the Destiny community enjoys the fruits of that labor. 

The project itself feels like a masterclass. One where I’m an apprentice to a master who has given me a lot of liberty and trust to develop things on my own while they watch over the process with warm and comforting eyes. The master in this case is Josh Deeb. He’s my Art Lead for this project on the Bungie side, and he’s one of the most empathetic people and keenest art directors I happen to have met in my life. He’s given me so much creative liberty and freedom of artistic expression, as well as guidance for an artist-in-discipline working in game development.  

During the brainstorming phase, I knew that I was going to deliver three concepts for one weapon, so I pitched five themes per weapon, plus a few random wildcards just because. That makes for a total of 15 concept ideas, each reflecting my personal likings, aesthetic tastes, and understanding of the Destiny universe. Josh would then assess each concept’s viability within official Destiny lore and community desires on top of quite a few discussions on how the process works from a tech perspective. 

Josh is amazing. I don’t know how he does it, but there were several occasions when he would point out things that I’ve thought of internally but didn’t share due to self-doubt. There were also a few times when he would earnestly remind me to “trust in the 3D team’s capabilities” whenever he noticed moments where I would hold back to try to keep everything doable. I know I’ve said it too many times, but I will say it again: I can’t thank him more for guiding me through this project. I’ve learned so much from him. I’m also especially thankful for Bungie for showing me through their actions what excellence in professionalism in the game industry truly looks like. 

One of the most memorable moments in this project was when we were working on the Synthwave Arbalest ornament. I’d spent so much time on it only for the end concept to look like a Mardi Gras float instead. That’s when Josh suggested that we take everything from all of the different ideas on the table and reorient them into a coherent Synthwave concept that’s being established in the Destiny universe: Neomuna. 

I was reading his feedback, and my brain was like, “NEOMUNA ARBALEST?! Are we allowed to do that? Am I allowed to make that?! A Lightfall ornament?! What?!" 

The internal screaming of joy and hype fueled me to work with the teams involved to learn more about iconography in-game and what’s in store in order to craft the perfect weapon experience in the name of fashion.  

Do you have a particular favorite out of the three ornaments the community will be voting on, or is that like asking a parent about who their favorite kid is?  
It probably sounds like the Synthwave Arbalest ornament would be my favorite, but personally, I tend to stay neutral about personal attachment as each ornament reflects a specific aspect of my tastes and how I see Destiny: 
  • The Historic ornament is an homage to the arbalest of the Medieval period and comes with an easter egg tied in with Galileo Galilei’s telescope. Historically, the arbalest can be seen as humanity’s earliest attempts to develop a firearm, so I thought it’d be nice to have the Destiny 2 Arbalest “return to tradition." 
  • The Synthwave ornament reflects my love for glow-y things, the cyberpunk genre, and metropolitan nightscapes. It's sleek and fits in perfectly with the new location we’ll get to explore in Lightfall.  
  • The Black Armory ornament is a strong personal preference, since Black Armory is one of my favorite expansions and aesthetics. I know I'm not alone in that either, so I’m excited to see what players think of this design. 

Oh! OK! What about this: If you could craft your dream ornament, what would it be, and for which piece of gear?
I believe the community has  plenty of jaw-dropping-level awesome designs for everything out there already, though personally, I’d like to see vanilla Destiny 2 themes mashed up with weapon types that didn’t exist during those years, say, a Trials of the Nine-themed Trinity Ghoul. I think a minimalist look can bring some new visual oomf to this particularly versatile Exotic, personally. 

As for armor ornaments, I'd love to see more designs for Lunafaction Boots to bring it out from the current leather-feather tribal aesthetics. Maybe something with a Cloudstrider vibe? Imagine: The cyberpunk-esque tech plating, Neptunian technology, spice it up with bits of scrolling lights, maybe Pouka iconography somewhere even? Neomuna faction? I’m just saying, it could -  be dope.  

Dopeness noted.[Laughs] What inspires you the most when looking to create a new piece of artwork? How do you overcome things like artist’s block?  
I take inspiration from many places: the game’s artwork, a good piece of music, a relaxing day in, and anything that sparks that mental picture into life.  

For me, the key to dealing with artist's block is to not view it negatively. Artist block exists because making art is very much like language. Learning a new language is tricky. It’s a two-way process of building a word bank, learning how grammar works, and then finally getting your ideas out of your brain and into the real world. It’s the same with art: you’re learning the medium and exploring different means of expression. There’s a lot of new information you’re learning that can sometimes overload the “old” information. It’s like that first, struggling time of trying to solo a Master Lost Sector, and you've noticed you’re pretty under-leveled. There isn’t a shortcut to overcome that light level except grinding for loot and practicing skills and techniques seen from more experienced players. No need to be frustrated when you have artist’s block. Just sit down with yourself and listen to your creativity. Don’t be afraid to learn more from those you admire in the space, as well.  

With Lightfall and even more mystery ahead, what are you looking forward to the most both as a Guardian and as an artist?  
I know I’d love to live in the neon cityscape of Neomuna forever, but Darkness technology is number one on my list of wants. I always see Darkness and Light more like scientific concepts of energy (paracausal) than deities of faith (Sorry, Misraaks. Sorry, Speaker. Sorry, Hive propaganda writers. Forgive me). I am most certainly looking forward to observing how the Darkness physically converts Calus and his followers from a technological aspect. 

Also, please: More Pouka. [Insert “I would like to see the baby” memes]. Firstly, because they are cute, but also because it would just be cool to learn more about them.  

Any parting words you'd like to say to any aspiring artists out there?    
Don’t feel disappointed about your art skills. Focus on practicing. Always try to discover the beauty everywhere around you to develop your own personal taste (this will become the core of what you create). Don’t feel bad about not hitting your career goals, everybody walks a different path. Never stop drawing and creating, not for others, but for your own joy of expression and envisioning. Avoid toxicity the best you can. Find art friends that you can grow and celebrate each other’s milestones with. Most importantly: Be empathetic, be kind, and be respectful. Oh, and don’t forget to flex every once in a while. Sometimes a little spice is necessary to get some bonus enjoyment out of life.  

This was an absolute blast, thanks again for taking the time to chat with us! Before we let you go, tell folks where they can find ya. 
We all know social media has been rather chaotic recently, but here are some places where you can find me (also, you can just search StellarStateLogic): 

Twitter / Instagram / Tumblr / Artstation 

And that’s a wrap! Another phenomenal Guardian to meet and some interesting experiences shared to ponder over. There’s a lot of inspiration in the stories shared today, and I genuinely hope that you feel revitalized and ready to tackle your own goals. Or just to make some amazing new art!  
Want even more Community Focus goodness? Heard that. You can learn about one particular Guardian that is always locked and loaded on her way to kick butt with LockandLoadLiv as our most recent spotlight
We’re almost to the end of the year, fam. Just one more month to go before we say farewell to 2022 for good and launch head-first into 2023. Before the chorus of corny “see you next year” jokes make their rounds, just wanted to give a friendly CM reminder to make sure you're drinking lots of water, making self-care a priority, and always putting your kindest foot forward. 
Until next time, friends.    
“I should go,”    <3 Hippy