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Brice Laville Saint Martin

Brice Laville Saint Martin

WeAnimate 2024-04-12 | wam#0035

Although you may not know the name of Brice Laville Saint Martin, you may have come across his work. As a character designer for the Finnish game company Supercell, he works creating characters for the immensely popular mobile game Clash Royale.

“Sometimes, you’re thinking about the millions and millions of players,” he says on a Skype connection from California, where he is currently working on marketing. “But in terms of everyday work, you’re just trying to do the best you can.”

While studying at the Bellecour Ecole d’Arts in Lyon, Laville Saint Martin was hired as a freelance character designer for video games, a position he held for a few years before traveling to Anaheim, California. “That was the goal at the time, you know? I had an opportunity to meet some of my heroes, and they led me to more freelance jobs.

Even so, that initial trip would end in disappointment. “Riot Games were interested in me, and that led to a very important moment to me. Because I failed that interview so badly, and it took me a year to understand why.”

Despite his previous experience in video games, Laville Saint Martin’s focus was still more on form than function. “I wasn’t there to talk about the characters. I was there to talk about the gameplay,” he says, choosing his next words carefully. “The character is there to serve a function. If you’re designing characters for feature films or TV series, what’s important is the story. And in video games, everything comes from the gameplay. “


One point he is eager to get across is that as a character designer, he is just that – a designer. Not an artist. “To me, art is something beautiful that has no function. If you put a painting up on your wall, it serves no function except to be beautiful. But when you are designing a character, they have a direct purpose, to serve either the gameplay or the story. We are there to make beautiful characters that fit into a mechanism. I am definitely not an artist.”

After California, Laville Saint Martin spent five months working on animated TV series in Dublin. “The cool thing was that I got to work with Stefano Dubay. He did characters for Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen, and Big Hero 6, and I worked very closely with him every day. I learned a lot. He is one of my mentors, and when he left to take a job in London, I left as well.”

This turned into a watershed moment for the character designer, who had until then always been working for other people. “I called a friend and told him: ‘We should do our own stuff.’ A month later, we were in Madrid, starting a company. And then Supercell called me.”

Although he had dreamed about striking out on his own, the Finnish company intrigued Brice, who found that it offered both a lot of responsibility and room to grow. “You don’t do just one thing at Supercell. The game teams are not that big, and there’s no-one else doing the same work.” In the end, that’s what clinched it for the well-traveled Frenchman. “I like to be challenged because that means I can evolve and improve. And working at Supercell… it’s amazing.”


Text: Niels Jakob Kyhl Jørgensen

Meet the Artist

Brice Laville Saint Martin

Nationality: French

Profession: Character designer

Education: Bellecour Ecole



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