Click for High Resolution
Environment Artist Ken Taya knows a thing or two about painting in the fun. He also knows how to push himself to be a better artist, cultivate his own talent and experience, and dodge flying fish organs. If that sounds like a skill set you’d like to adopt yourself, keep your head ducked down, stay focused, and get up to speed on what it takes to make the unreal real inside of Bungie's titles.
Q. Who are you and what do you do for Bungie?
A. My name is Ken Taya and I’m an environment artist. I try to make people believe the unbelievable surroundings of our games.
Q. Sounds like an awesome gig. How did you get your start at Bungie?
A. I attribute my chance to get a job at Bungie to my own personal artwork. Hear me out. I had a booth at Artists’ Alley at the Emerald City Comicon where I just happened to meet fellow Bungite Steve Scott. We talked, exchanged business cards, winked at each other, and gave high fives. I think he was hitting on me as he contacted me telling me he checked out my work and thought I should apply. I spent a weekend taking the art test and the rest is history.
All that to say that if you’re an artist your pursuit of personal work should not be taken for granted, as it may lead to Bungites hitting on you.
A delectable example of Ken's work.
Q. How long have you been in the industry and what, besides the stints manning your own booth at ECCC, did you do prior?
A. I’ve been in the video game industry for 7 years.
My first job ever was working in a cannery in Alaska in what was a former German POW camp. One would yell, “Sperm Sac Fight!”, and people would start throwing salmon sperm sacs at each other. Nothing is more sobering than having a sperm sac hit you in the face.
Doing an honest hard physical 120 hour work week plus the occasional sperm sac to the face definitely prepared me for work at Bungie. The only thing different is now I don’t work 120 hour work weeks.
Q. Besides the lack of physical labor and shortened work week, what makes working for Bungie a bit different?
A. The depth of talent runs deep here across the board. I love being surrounded by creatives who push me. The best place for a creative to be is surrounded by other creatives.
The culture of pushing yourself exists throughout all disciplines at Bungie. You find out about other employees burning the midnight oil studying the latest technology, writing papers, doing research, and exploring their craft all outside of work hours, and it motivates you to do your own thing.
Q. During your time with Bungie, what’s the one motivating moment that stands our foremost in your mind?
A. The Halo 3 launch. Seeing the energy of our fans first hand while they waited in line at the Best Buy in Bellevue was very surreal. Getting to shake the hands of the fans and thanking them made all the hard work worth it.
Q. And what has changed over the years?
As our company grows I’ve noticed the beer fridge gets stocked with more beer.
Q. While the studio expands and inexorably marches toward the inevitable completion of Step 7, do you find yourself taking any of your own personal steps to stay motivated?
A. I drink coffee like it’s my job. I do whatever I can to create an environment conducive to personal and professional productivity and growth. I try to surround myself with positive, motivating people.
Q. Speaking of motivated people, plenty of outsiders would love to land your job. Some of them are going to read this, take your advice, and set sights on snagging a gig at the studio. Got a warning for these folks?
A. Always see yourself as #2, it’ll keep you hungry.
Q. Experience, Work Ethic, or Talent? As a seasoned artist, which one of these qualities do you look for in people who you’ll be working alongside?
A. Work Ethic.
Natural born talent is BS. Talented people worked at it to get where they are. If they are talented, they must’ve had a great work ethic to have gotten there.
Experience…every second that goes by everyone in this world gains “experience.” It’s your work ethic that determines the quality of that experience.
Talent and Experience feel like words that describe what’s already been accomplished. Work Ethic feels like a persistent quality of character that drives you to continue to gain at a high rate both talent and experience.
Just take a look at your average week. How much of that time is spent bettering your goals? How much of that time are you just dinking around? I’ll tell you this. When you’re sitting on your ass or sleeping in, talent and experience isn’t going to motivate you to polish your craft.
Q. Bonus Round! Give us the top three things people looking to wriggle their way into the gaming industry should or shouldn’t do.
A. Don’t kiss up, don’t -blam!- up, don’t give up. Oh, and sperm sac to the face.
We really don’t know how to follow that last line. We'll just move on and say thanks to Ken for painting a picture for potential candidates without supplying us with the slimy and grimy details of his sperm sac-related endeavors. We’re glad he got himself out of the cannery and into the less slippery confines of the studio. If you’ve just read this brief exchange, come away with some great advice, and believe you have the work ethic (and talent and experience) to swim in the talent pool at Bungie, motivate yourself to check out our Jobs Page
. We’re not only hiring, we’re hiring artists.