Guerrilla Spotlight: Tiffany Vongerichten

Guerrilla; 13 April 2016

Tiffany Final

"I like the work/life balance in the Netherlands – you actually have free time to do things."

An American expat living in Amsterdam, Tiffany Vongerichten has been a Senior Environment Artist at Guerrilla for 4 years.

After working on the futuristic structures of Killzone Shadow Fall, she is currently helping to create the beautiful post-post-apocalyptic environments of Horizon Zero Dawn. We sat down with Tiffany to talk about her career, her work at Guerrilla, and what it’s like to live in Amsterdam.

What did you do before you came here?

I have a background in photography, but I’ve worked as an Environment Artist in the games industry for 15 years. Prior to this I worked at Insomniac Games in Burbank, California. I actually started my games career in a small games company in Seattle, where I was supposed to be in the graphic design department. I didn’t like it, so the Art Director put me on the modeling team and taught me how to model.

Was it always your goal to become a games artist?

No, I fell into it by accident! I found that I really loved it, because it satisfies my creative side and because the architecture of the art form applies to my photography background. Having that experience has helped me a lot with composition, lighting and silhouettes. The main difference is that I now need to look at the full 360 degrees of freedom available in games.

Would you consider yourself a gamer?

I occasionally play, but I wouldn’t call myself a hardcore gamer. On one hand, I think it can help to be a gamer in a field like this, because you quickly understand what the game designers need and how it applies to your environments. On the other hand, because I’m not conditioned to play things a certain way, I catch issues that people who play all the time would miss.

How did you first learn about Guerrilla?

A friend of mine was the Lead Character Artist at Santa Monica Studios, and he knew several developers from here. So when he learned I wanted to move to Europe, he just kept telling me I had to come here.

Ultimately, what made you decide to take the leap?

Basically, once I started looking at different companies in Europe, I found that a lot of them didn’t make the kind of games I wanted to work on – there were a lot of sports games, handhelds games, that sort of thing. And I definitely wanted to work at a triple-A studio, because that’s the quality level I’d worked so hard to achieve. Guerrilla was a good match for my portfolio. I’d been working on the PlayStation platform for many years already, so the transition was easy for me.

What is Amsterdam like?

It’s a really expat-friendly city. Amsterdam is like a mix between Seattle and New York, where you have the manageable size of Seattle and the forthright energy of New York. It’s also a great hub for traveling, with quick and inexpensive connections to the rest of Europe. In general, I like the work/life balance in the Netherlands – you actually have free time to do things. And everyone here can speak English, so that helps a lot.

Are you able to express your creative side here?

Absolutely! Because my job involves being in front of a computer a lot, I felt it was important to do something physically creative rather than just mentally creative. So after I got a puppy I decided to start making organic dog treats. I even turned it into a nice little side online business called Bad Dog Bakery, and I received a lot of support from my colleagues in setting it up.

In general, what’s the atmosphere at Guerrilla like?

I feel like it’s pretty laid-back compared to the situation in the US, which is usually very hierarchical. Here it’s more about how everyone has their own role, rather than a position above or below you. It makes things a lot more comfortable for everyone, especially when offering suggestions or constructive criticism.

Thanks for your time, Tiffany.

My pleasure!

If you want to stay up-to-date with everything Tiffany is working on at Guerrilla, follow us on Facebook and Twitter. If you’re interested in becoming a Guerrilla too, head over to the Join page to see our open positions!