PEOPLE OF BEHAVIOUR
Marek Olejarz is an Art Director at Behaviour Interactive.
How long have you been at Behaviour?
I just celebrated my 20th anniversary, if you can believe it! I had five jobs before Behaviour but I have to admit I can barely remember them because it’s been so long!
What was your job when you started at Behaviour? What attracted you?
My first job at Behaviour was a mix of communication, advertising and graphic design. The main mandate was to produce Behaviour’s first website, ads for magazines, logos for games, and several PowerPoint presentations. I later moved towards illustration and then art direction.
What really attracted me to Behaviour was the people. They are really the ones who make Behaviour!
Where are you from, how did you end up here?
When I was young, I never thought I would work in the video game business. I was passionate about mathematics and literature. After two-and-a-half years of studying mechanical engineering at McGill University, I did a minor in marketing and then returned to studying illustration and animation. A few years later, while I was working on a cartoon inspired by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “Lost World,” a friend who worked at Behaviour invited me to come for a visit. He recommended me to the creative director at the time, who offered me an interview. We hit it off and he made me a great offer.
Tell us about your arrival in Canada.
I was born in Poland and my parents, for rather complicated reasons, had to leave the country quickly. We ended up in Algeria where I spent four years by the sea in the breathtaking region of Andalusia. That’s where I learned French, and a little bit of Arabic. That’s probably what explains my accent! After Algeria, we went through France and finally arrived in Canada – first Ottawa, and then Montreal. As I recall, I changed schools a dozen times, I think, in all.
What’s changed the most in the video game industry over the last 20 years?
I believe that the biggest change has been the emergence of schools specializing in video games. Before, we were surrounded by people from very different backgrounds – teachers, architects, graphic designers, publicists, entrepreneurs, writers, etc. It gave a very special flavour to the studio; a wonderful mix of very distinct people who had the same passion and complementary interests. Now we’ve become a little more standardized, but that’s expected from a field that’s matured.
What do you love most about your job / the industry?
In terms of my job, it’s really the immense freedom of what you can do and with whom you can do it. I don’t play much, there are a few games that I loved, like Elden Ring or Witcher 3, but for me the real magic is my colleagues. I have the incredible pleasure of starting each day with all kinds of people, from all parts of the world, of different ages and with fascinating experiences, with whom we can talk as much about Zelda as about Isaac Asimov or Jane Austen!
In terms of the industry, it’s how video games are at the intersection of all creative fields: we’re really at the crossroads of music, graphic arts, film, art, computer science, animation, and marketing. It’s a perfect blend of creativity, art, and technology. With constant innovation, the rise of artificial intelligence and a human imagination without limits, who knows where we will be in five years!
You definitely must have hobbies, don’t you?
When I was young, I was lucky enough to travel a lot: From Belize to Honduras, via Costa Rica; Mexico; Cyprus; a bunch of European countries; from Morocco to Japan, where my wife and I got engaged, more precisely in Kyoto on the path of the Philosophers, under the sakuras in bloom… If there’s one common denominator to my travels, it’s water sports: diving, catamaran sailing and, above all, windsurfing, which I learned south of Quimper, France, in a small village called Île-Tudy. Strangely, even if I have photo albums full of beautiful southern beaches, the most beautiful memories are from Montreal, including one in particular where I found myself on my catamaran in the middle of a storm! The result: four hours in the tumult, a good 20 injuries, some of them quite original!
Running is a very solitary sport that I also do on my travels. One of the best running memories is thanks to Behaviour, around our former studio in Santiago, Chile. Running during the autumn in the gardens of Mapulemu or on the coast of Valparaiso is magical.
I really like writing for fun, too. I took poetry courses at university and writing courses at CEGEP. I even wrote a book for the pleasure of doing so. I also love drawing and everything related to visual art, but have to admit I love writing just as much!
In closing, has there been a moment from your career so far that has particularly marked you?
My parents don’t know anything about video games and don’t understand much about the field. However, La Presse newspaper here in Montreal once did a feature on my work at Behaviour and, really, the fact that my mother was able to see my work in a local newspaper that she read will remain a very touching moment for me.