Merlin Eddie, Passchendaele Eddie, Oni Warrior Eddie, False God’s Eddie.
Those are just a few of the beastly characters Toronto Film School alumnus David Mattiacci has created for Iron Maiden: Legacy of the Beast – Navigator Games’ epic mobile role-playing game set in the expansive universe of its namesake heavy metal band.
“I mainly design the ‘Eddies,’ the band’s mascot, which is funny because before going to Navigator, I had probably only done two characters ever. My portfolio was mainly all environment stuff, but they wanted me to do characters, so I’ve designed more than two dozen of them now,” he said.
“It’s an online game, so we release new content, new dungeons, new levels and new characters every few months. I’ve learned a lot.”
A Class of 2018 graduate of the Film Production program, the 24-year-old Burlington, Ontario native grew up with a passion for art – but it wasn’t until he came to TFS that he discovered a pathway to translating his artistic talents into those of a marketable concept artist.
“When I got to TFS, I realized I had something to offer that a lot of the other students didn’t, so I would just draw in the computer lab every day. Soon, people started coming up to me to ask if I’d do their storyboards,” he said.
“I kind of became known as that guy who would help out on people’s films – and the teachers’ stuff, too. So, I pivoted halfway through the program and fell in love with concept art and storyboard art,” he added.
“The reason I first started working as a concept artist, and the reason why I’m still able to survive as a concept artist, is because of the people I met at TFS. A lot of the films I’ve worked on have been jobs that have been given to me by people I knew at school.”
For Mattiacci, a lifelong gamer, making the leap from doing storyboard art for films to tackling concept art for video games seemed like a natural fit.
In 2020, he represented Toronto Film School in the Ubisoft Next competition – an annual contest that challenges students to compete in one of six disciplines (3D Art, Animation, Concept Art, Level Design, Programming and Technical Art) to win a paid internship at Ubisoft Toronto.
Mattiacci handily won the Concept Art competition, and went on to work for Ubisoft for seven months, during which time he worked on the newly released Far Cry 6, among other projects.
The experience was not only an educational one, but it also “opened up a lot of doors” to him, he said.
From there, he landed at Navigator Games in November 2020. Since joining the team as a concept artist, Mattiacci said he’s had the opportunity to work on numerous games, including: Iron Maiden: Legacy of the Beast; Avatar: The Last Air Bender – a mobile game in partnership with Square Enix; and a third game he can’t yet discuss.
In addition to his day job at Navigator, Mattiacci has also continued to work in film on the side – just recently taking on the challenge of art directing.
“I’ve art directed a few features now with one of my old instructors from TFS (James Mark). I started out doing storyboards for him and he just recently let me take over as art director, which has been interesting,” he said.
“I know nothing about art directing. I’m kind of like a fish out of water, but it’s fun and I think I would like to do more of it – including art directing for video games – in the future.”
To those students at TFS who, like Mattiacci himself as a student, are still unsure of themselves and their path forward, he offered the following advice:
“I think it’s really important for each of you to find something you like, something you’re good at, and just market yourself,” he said.
“Sixty per cent of my job is networking. I know it’s not easy, but you have to force yourself to go to events and let people know that you’re good at something – because movies are a business.”