Hack and Paint is a distributed VR game studio. Our office is wherever each one of us feels most happy to work from. We can work from home, a cabin in the woods, a coffee shop, or even an airplane - at Hack and Paint we are free to choose!
When we thought about creating the perfect studio, location was always an issue. Do we make a studio based in New York, San Francisco, Sofia, or Sydney? Or maybe somewhere where we can get subsidies from the government? What if some great artist or programmer wants to join us, but doesn't want to uproot his or her whole family to a new location? How do we make it simpler for the best people from around the world to join us? We envisioned a company that doesn't require the hustle of a daily commute to a fixed office location. After all, we are building digital products; we don’t really need to be in the same physical place.
We are a team of industry veterans, with experience from the highest levels of Games, Animation, and VFX production. Our talent hails from companies including Pixar, Blue Sky, MPC, EA Games, Rhythm & Hues, Chaos Group, Ubisoft, and RGB. Our members are spread across the world, including New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, Brighton, Munich, and Sofia. This diversity brings unique perspectives to creativity.
Happy employees make awesome products and awesome products make happy users! At Hack and Paint we all have a stake in the company.
Everything in Hack and Paint is completely transparent. You want to know something? Just ask. Financial decisions and information are visible to everyone - including sales, equity, and yes - salaries too! We believe transparency is a vital part of engaging people at work.
This is both liberating and very hard to do in practice. Following instructions can be easy. It’s much harder to KNOW what is best for the company in any given moment and decide for yourself what steps to take to accomplish that. Using self management practices increases our capacity for learning and responding to change. We don’t waste talent and resources on needless meetings and Gantt chart shuffling, thus resulting in a more agile and nimble organisation.
Many great projects come from indie studios because they are made by small teams. When big teams start working on projects together, bureaucracy and politics tend to emerge. We are using a system called Holacracy to eliminate the negative artefacts that we experienced working in big studios. Holacracy removes the usual hierarchy of people and substitutes it with clear processes and rules. Instead of restrictive titles, everyone in the company has defined roles - and these roles can change and adapt organically and quickly based on company needs.
Some companies talk about work-life balance. Some don’t talk about it at all. At Hack and Paint we talk about work-life integration. If you are happy and passionate about what you do, why should you separate work and life? Work can be part of life! Our individual time management culture brings forward our best contributions. Yes, how much work we choose to contribute affects our individual salaries; but value is not only in money.
At present we are focused on designing and prototyping our first VR game using what we know best - how to build engaging characters and stories. Our game with working title "The Salt Lake" is a story about discovery.
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We are also currently building a visual collaboration platform that we use internally for our own projects and also share with the rest of the world! It is called RGB Notes.
Developers stay tuned, as we also plan to release helpful open-source tools, workflows and tips for the Unity Development community.
Christian Haniszewski has been working prominently in the Feature Animation and VFX industry for over a decade. His resume boasts years of experience at Pixar, Blue Sky Studios, Framestore, Aardman Nathan Love, and 4mm Games. He's credited for his incredible work on globally recognized films: "Brave", "Monsters University", "Epic", "Rio 2", "Peanuts", "Ice Age 5", "Ferdinand", and "Salt" -just to name a few.
In 2009, Christian graduated from the School of Visual Arts with a BFA in Computer Animation and Visual Effects. In 2012, he returned to SVA to teach as a distinguished Faculty and Computer Art Alumnus. His Adv. Modeling & Rigging class was reputed to be the hardest and least forgiving in the entire Computer Art program. His students all love him (or the ones that are still alive, anyway).
When Christian is not preoccupied being a badass industry rock-star, he enjoys painting, sculpting, video games, star-gazing, and riding his motorcycle like he stole it.
Because Christian is too busy creating miracles in VR and would never refer to himself in the 3rd person, this short biography was written by one of Christian's many lovely assistants.
In 2003, Eriks graduated from the Academy of Art in San Francisco, with a BFA in Fine Art and Computer Animation. Soon after, he joined Rhythm and Hues Studios as an animation intern, working through ranks to become a senior animator. Later on, he assumed more roles to assist the streamlining of rigs, workflows, pipeline and communication tools for the Animation Department. Eriks later joined BlueSky Studios in 2015 as an Animation Technical Director, to help design and build customized tools for the artist's workflow.
Eriks is also the founder and head developer of RGB Notes.
His hobbies include playing guitar, writing music, record collecting, boardgames, woodworking, gardening, hiking/backpacking/camping, rock climbing,coffee drinking, programming of all sorts.
A True American, Isaac has lived in the Midwest, South and Northeast, and has visited everywhere else. He's passionate about people, life and the process of fun...all of which he brings to Hack & Paint's organizing structure. If there's a better, kinder, more elegant way of doing something, he wants to know and learn about it.
Ivaylo (aka the Bear) is a happy person who is trying to chase his dreams. He has more than 12 years of expertise in both VFX and Games. He started his career as a 3D generalist, with background in fine arts. During those years, he participated in most of the process along the studio pipeline including managing positions, but his strength and real passion is modelling and sculpting. Ivaylo also has experience in running his own company in the past. When he is not in front of a computer, he loves to be outside and to practice one of his hobbies.
Jonathan Lin graduated from the School of Visual Arts in 2012 with a BFA in Computer Animation and Visual Effects. He worked as a Modeler at Blue Sky Studios for 4+ years, contributing to "Epic", "Rio 2", "Peanuts", "Ice Age 5", "Ferdinand", and other unannounced films. At Blue Sky, Jonathan was distinguished for his amazing Character Modeling abilities and eccentric-yet-endearing affinity for automatic rifles. In a lesser distinguishing career highlight, Jonathan also contributed to ~10,000 meticulously art-directed rock models during the tenure of his Blue Sky career. Jonathan has never seen rocks the same way again.
In 2016, Jonathan left Blue Sky to co-found Hack and Paint. When the stress of startup life doesn't keep him up at night, he still dreams vividly in polygons.
Serial entrepreneur. Passionate gamer. Adept at lean validation and taking new ideas to market. SaaS and Freemium expert. Sixteen years of entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial experience. Interested in gaming and VR tech. Competitive gamer. Meditation disciple. Lean startup ambassador. Extreme sports junkie. Motivational speaker and trainer.
17 years in the VFX, Animation and Gaming industry on key leading positions. More than 30 film titles like Ice Age, Epic, Rio, Peanuts. In the golden mean of Hacking and Painting. Passionate about reinventing organizations, games and the outdoors.
With a background in psychology, I have always been intrigued by what motivates people. More than ten years of experience in academia and the private sector, exploring the mechanisms of consumer behaviour, have convinced me that effective communication is the foundation for success.
Miglena Chervenkova is an aspiring artist and idea machine. Despite choosing a career path for herself in the game and animation world she stays involved in many different activities. She is a member of folklore organizations, art volunteer, occasionally does creative writing and studies history, all of which aid her in her personal and professional work. She believes that in order to create something beautiful within the studio you first need to have spent enough time outside.
She graduated Bournemouth University in 2015 as a 3D Generalist, but the pencil and paper held a bigger place in her heart.Now she is focusing on concept art, character and story design. Soon after graduating she worked as a cinematography assistant and storyboard artist on a short independent British film – Dear diary, dear you. Since then she has done several freelance jobs including leading a team of five in the creation of an animated advert for the British charity organization CREATE. Amongst her achievements is being rewarded for Best Character design by Dreamworks’ ShelleyPage.
Stefan Doychev is a an passionate game developer and a game jam veteran. Despite his internal battle between developing applications for the biggest OS today - Android, which Stefan embraced back in 2011, and his never ending desire to create the next 'big thing' in the game industry, Stefan is always ready to play with some new tech gadgets. When not behind his favourite PC, Stefan could be found chasing the ball at the rugby field - he is currently President of the Murphy's Misfits RFC. In his spare time he also enjoys playing drums, be part of a mosh at a punk/metal concert, or just lying in a hammock and enjoying a cold beer in the beautiful Bulgarian countryside.
My background is mainly in CG feature animation and programming. Most recently, I worked at Blue Sky Studios for 15 years on 12 films. During my time there I worked as a Modeler building characters and props, as a Materials TD writing procedural shaders and painting maps, and also as a Fur TD grooming CG fur. I have a background in programming that goes back to when I was about 9 years old playing with my friend's dad's Apple II+ which I learned to program because I thought it would be fun. I still think it's fun.
Since the summer of 2016 I started developing some experimental games in Unity and I'm just getting started.