Ash Thorp’s involvement on projects is a rotation of numerous roles from graphic designer, concept/digital artist, illustrator, animator, creative director, to director. He originally gained recognition for his UI (user interface) graphics in feature films, such as Ender’s Game (2013) and Total Recall (2012), and the video game series Call of Duty (Black Ops 3, Advanced Warfare, Infinite Warfare). Soon after, he was able to additionally showcase his directorial attributes by co-directing with Chris Eyerman of 3AM, “Ares - Our Greatest Adventure,” featuring Neil deGrasse Tyson in a promotional trailer for the feature film, The Martian. Ash also created a graphic series titled Lost Boy; a concept short film for Lost Boy was released in November 2016 and is in further development alongside his co-director, Anthony Scott Burns, and production company, Post Panic Pictures. In 2015, Ash co-founded Learn Squared, Inc., an online educational platform for creatives with a core mission to provide affordable, quality instructional programs worldwide.
You started your career as a junior designer at Prologue, this was a big opportunity for you to grow, but at the same time extremely intensive. What aspects exactly encouraged you to start a career as a freelance artist?
It was indeed intense, but well worth the hard work, sacrifice, and effort. Freelancing was always the end goal when I started my journey into the industry. It allows me to set my own agenda, work path, and project selection. Furthermore, I have a particular personality type that enjoys working remotely; I enjoy my space and quiet to gather my thoughts and really get deep within my work without many interruptions.
Learning helps fuel my imagination
You contributed to the design direction and concepts for big films such as Total Recall, Ender’s Game, Prometheus, James Bond – Spectre, Ghost In The Shell, etc. How do you perceive the film industry changed since your first show?
I feel it’s changed significantly since I first got involved in the industry. Netflix was still growing and evolving, and now it is a big portion of the media content that is being consumed. I feel that as much as I love movies and going to the theater to experience them, it is slowly being replaced by platforms like Netflix and Amazon. It is sad to see the decline in theaters, but I am also very excited and optimistic about what new forms of media will present themselves as the art forms evolve.
Your career is a continuous rotation of roles from designer to creative director and your creativity reveals to be impressive. How do you keep focused and feed your visual imagination?
I don't really focus on titles or setting a limit on tasks defined by them. I simply consider myself a "creative person" and that allows an endless area for growth and opportunity. I attempt to try everything that I am interested in, could be anywhere from writing to world building. It's all a part of the creative process for me and it's essential to continually learn, try new things, and acquire new skills to manifest ideas into reality. I consume as many books, films, shows, and content as much as possible. Learning helps fuel my imagination.
I truly love when I can find time to create my own passion projects
Along with your commissioned work you choose to dedicate time and passion to your personal projects. Until now you directed the short-films “None”, “Lost Boy”, “Epoch”, etc. At this point of your career what would be a dream project for you?
I truly love when I can find time to create my own passion projects. With each project, there's a lot of growth and development that happens internally. I learn from the struggles and successes to make the next project even stronger. My dream project would be to continue along this path until I can create my own feature length film that can live amongst the work of my idols.
Recently you had the honor, with Maciej Kuciara, to create three posters to promote the release of Blade Runner 2049. What did working directly with sir Ridley Scott mean to you?
It is always a true honor when presented with an amazing opportunity to work with your heroes, and Ridley Scott is certainly that for me. He created some of my most favorite films and to be able to work directly with him was an experience I will never forget. His intuition and vision is consistently inspiring.
During your career into the film industry you developed many futuristic concepts and visuals, but how do you imagine our real future in the next 20 years?
Optimistically, I hope to see more advancement in medical and 3D printing, along with developments with CRISPR; this is REALLY going to change how we live and evolve as a species. I also see the evolution of removing the physical hardware while improving software, allowing us to be more mobile and agile as we interact with our technology.
What is your personal opinion about the AI? Should people keep more control over all innovations or just let the natural progress to follow its path?
AI can be a very scary part of our potential evolution. I don't feel it will be represented in the forms we have seen in common blockbuster films. I'm more concerned about the possible flaws. A replication error or programs that take on the forms of viruses tied to an AI could really remove us from the equation. When mankind's creations evolve beyond us, we must ask ourselves where are humans placed in the hierarchy of existence.
I hope to see more advancement in medical and 3D printing
With the imminent technological progress, it will become much easier to translate futuristic concepts from films to real life. Would you enjoy one day to live or realize some of your concepts?
That would be amazing! My goal in life as a creative is to manifest the ideas that live in my mind as rapidly as I see them.
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