Adam Adamowicz

Adam Adamowicz

This past week we were heartbroken to lose our good friend and colleague, Adam Adamowicz. His artwork and creativity defined our games in so many ways. Many of you have seen his work and seen his unbelievable talents. But many of you never got to see who he was as a person. He was full of life. Always drawing, always creating, and always the most entertaining person in the room.

When people we wanted to impress visited our office, they were often given a tour of the development studio. They would be walked quickly through the various programming, design, and art departments, while someone would tell them briefly what was going on in those areas. The last stop was always Adam's desk to see his work and meet him. For each and every visitor would be in awe of not just Adam's work, but Adam himself. He was insanely creative. He made instant friends. He made those around him happier. He was the person everyone wanted to work with and hang out with. He made everyone laugh. He was the person you know that everyone loves.

And he never stopped. Right until the end he was drawing, creating images for a new game many years off. It is in that game, and our past games, that he will live on. You have not seen the last of his amazing talent and spirit. We will miss him terribly, but he will always be with us.

We wanted to share and ask you to participate in something Adam would have loved. Years ago, he had placed a tip jar next to his desk with a squeezable nun and the sign "Squeeze Nun For Service." At one point for fun he would not acknowledge you unless you squeezed the nun. So in Adam's memory, please "Squeeze the Nun", and leave a tip in Adam's name with the American Cancer Society.

Donate Donate to the American Cancer Society

Please enjoy this treasure trove of Adam’s work.






Remembering Adam

Adam Adamowicz

There are certain people you meet in life who are instantly recognizable as a one of a kind. A person so special and unique it is apparent to anyone they come in contact with. For connoisseurs of creativity and originality these people are the most precious element. To know one is life changing and to lose one is unbearable.

I did not have the opportunity to work with Adam directly, but I still greatly respect his work ethic and its results. Only Adam could seamlessly transition from off-the-wall zaniness to extreme focus and come up with something that we still look at in awe today. His tireless effort to design the perfect visual recipe spearheaded so many of the fantastic experiences we have all shared in Fallout3 and Skyrim.

Adam’s boundless creativity, as the driving force in many aspects of his life and personality, proved to this somewhat shy programmer that challenging your own boundaries is an important step in discovering one’s identity.

As an aside, my favorite story Adam told me was that he got fired as an erotic cake decorator for making the cakes TOO erotic. He wasn’t kidding.

A quick quote that sums up Adam well for anyone who's known him for the 20 years would be:

'Watch poppa go to work!'

Adam was one of the most interesting people I have ever met. His life ended tragically short, but I take solace knowing that he lived it fully. I will miss his fascinating stories, his fun random e-mails, and, of course, his artwork.

Adam was a constant fixture in my life at Bethesda, even sitting in my interview eight years ago. On my first day I was ushered into a glass-walled conference room which had been converted into a makeshift office while the building was being expanded. Across the desk was Adam, grinning. The pages that covered his drafting table encroached upon the surrounding walls and windows.

I always picture Adam like that, surrounded by his art.

I treasured those first several months, before we had desks of our own. Our days were punctuated by brief conversations, and Adam often waxed poetic about favorite movies like Repo Man, Six-String Samurai – and always Blade Runner. We would one-up each other with the most bizarre images we could find online, a tradition that we kept up over email throughout the years. Adam preferred listening to music without headphones, and his tastes were eclectic. I remember listening to awful, obscure disco, Kompressor and Shooby Taylor – and then he’d make it up to me with Duke Ellington and Joe Strummer.
Talking to Adam was a lot like listening to music with him. It was a wild ride, and you really had to listen – otherwise you might miss the frequent bits of genius mixed in with the delightful insanity.

Adam’s presence is indelibly felt in the games he worked on. To play his games – Fallout 3 in particular – was to know him, in a way. His personality seeped into every piece he worked on. I’m still impressed with the number of final assets that seemed lifted directly from the page where he drew them. His creativity has no boundaries, and he made it seem so effortless - working with him was a privilege I’ll never forget.

Adam had an unassuming, relaxed presence, yet I always felt like I stood the shadow of a giant when I spent time with him. Losing him has hurt more than I can describe, and knowing him was a greater gift than I can ever repay.

Adam was every bit as great a human being as he was an artist. He had a truly unique spirit. He was the kind of guy you wanted to be around just to have part of him rub off on you.

Every payday, Adam would shout 'Beer coupon!' when I'd hand him his check. 5 years, and it made me laugh every single time. He will be greatly missed.

I'll never forget seeing Adam outside walking the grounds. He used to say he was "scouting for ninjas."

Or getting emails from him complaining that the new coffee was "too good" and that he wanted to go back to "trucker coffee."

Or sitting with him at his desk as he described all of his crazy toys and contraptions to me.

I also recall having dinner with him at a company Christmas party. He was so grateful for video games – how they opened up so many jobs for struggling artists, how he tried for years to break into comics and all the odd jobs he worked.

Back when I was in QA and I used to come down and pester the devs a lot. During my pestering I'd always make sure to stop by and chat with Adam Adamowicz. After telling me tales to the likes of carnivorous snails and doo doo pistols, he often would ask me to tell him story. So in memory, I will tell you a story how I have never before and can never picture ever again, meeting someone with such a wonderfully eccentric imagination and unique creativity as Adam had. He was an artist who dreamt of coin operated boliwog feeders and martini toting centaurs. He was a happy go lucky madman with an invincible liver. In the words of Dr. Octagon he was a "Diplomat of swing with aliens at his feet." I myself, as well as probably anybody who's ever met him, will miss you friend. The world has become a more mundane place without you.

I didn’t work with Adam on a daily basis, but we shared a love for strong coffee and would often chat early mornings in the kitchen before much of the office was here… every single time, he’d leave me laughing and start my day off with a smile on my face. His talent, energy, and humor are dearly missed.

Adam’s contribution to the game industry is undeniable but who he was as a person is what will always stick with me. He was a creative force of nature and a master of his craft, but he was also a plain ol’ awesome dude. It was as easy to work with Adam as it was to have a beer with him. He was and continues to be an inspiration for me.

When Adam was working on concepts for the Dwemer (Dwarven) weapons, he had dozens – maybe hundreds – of reference photos and images on his desktop. Not just reference images of weapons, but architectural photos, bits of pottery, paintings, statues of famous figures – those kinds of things. He was creating a culture as much as he was creating the concept for one of their weapons, and you could see how everything he was referencing on that screen poured into the drawing to create something new.

Adam was one of my first friends at BGS. He was always someone you could count on for a conversation of ultra witty remarks, a bad YouTube video, or just a pal to drink some beers with. The things I will remember him most for would be his tremendous talent as an artist, his wacky sense of humor as a friend, and his selfless dedication to the team in everything he did.

I would like to quote Raoul Duke from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas:

"There he goes. One of God's own prototypes. A high-powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die."

When I started at Bethesda, I became friends with Adam because we rode the train at the same time every morning. It was always great trading stories with him, and it became pretty obvious that he was the guy to talk to during office happy hours.

Rest in Peace, Adam.

Initially, Adam only worked on paper, never in Photoshop, which is rare for a concept artist. I asked him why. He said "I can zoom in-and-out faster on paper."

Adam was a mad creative god. He could generate more good ideas over a few beers than most of us could generate over several months. He was one of the first people I really got to know when I came to this studio, and he always felt to me like the single person that embodied the best aspects of our studio, and of our games. He will be missed.

When someone passes people often say that they were the nicest person, but for Adam no other words could be more fitting. In all the years I worked with him he was always happy, upbeat and had a story or crazy anecdote to share. He often played our games during lunch, long before and after the games were finished and on store shelves and hearing his tales of adventure and excitement with what he did that day was a great reminder of why we make the type of games we do. His influence on those very games was enormous and he will be greatly missed as a co-worker and a friend.

Adam is one of the most creative people I have had the pleasure of working with. When I first started here at Bethesda, I was lucky enough to sit next to him for a short time. It was like a dream come true. I still remember going home that day and describing to my wife how I was sitting next to this incredible artist named Adam. Getting the chance to work in the space with him is something I will cherish for a lifetime. He is a force to be reckoned with. I am still amazed at how much great work he produced in such a short time. I don’t think most people realize how hard it is to be that creative ALL the time. He was always brainstorming and coming up with wild ideas. A sort of mad scientist of concept art. After some time, I was asked to move to my department. After that, Adam and I would run into each other daily at the coffee machine where we would talk about preparing to ride the caffeine morning wave. The thing I will miss most about Adam is being able to talk to him about creating art. I have spent my last two years here bugging him on how to create good concept art. He never turned down a question. Not once. If you don’t know what his art looks like, you should. The industry has lost a true creative force.

You’d always have to set some time aside when venturing into the Concept Pit. Even if you had a quick question for Adam, you knew you were going to spend at least 10-15 minutes in there getting lost in his world. When you were finished talking to him, you couldn’t remember what it was you asked him in the first place. Instead your head was filled with crazy images and pure inspiration.

Speaking of inspiration – during Shivering Isles, Fallout 3, and Skyrim, I’d sneak into Adam’s work area late at night and spend a long time just looking at all of his work hanging on the wall, trying to get some ideas for a new set piece or gameplay experience in a dungeon. It was amazing to me that one person could create all of that work in such a short amount of time. Whenever I couldn’t think of what to do in a level, Adam’s work was just a short walk from my cube. I felt extremely fortunate to have such a talented artist so close by.

I remember bringing my wife into work one day and taking her over to Adam’s work area during Fallout 3. She was speechless looking at all of the drawings and paintings covering every inch of space. She asked how many concept artists we had. When I told her it was all done by Adam, her jaw dropped – she couldn’t believe it. When she met Adam for the first time, he didn’t talk about his artwork once. Instead, he spent the time getting to know her. That’s the kind of person I remember Adam being – extremely modest and always interested in others and really taking the time to get to know them.

The gaming industry lost an extremely talented young man and we at Bethesda lost a really good friend. There’s no doubt that his work will continue to influence what we create here at Bethesda and his work will continue to inspire others around the world.

"Papa drinks because it makes you cry" – on a painting in his house

"Another day at the Monster Factory" – his name for the concept den

"Drink all the beer" – his lesson for the weekends

When he first started working here, I would go sit and chat with him while he drew, and he commented that he hadn't brought in much music to listen to, and he'd have to remedy that. I grabbed all of my music from my computer and sent it to him, asking if he liked the band Skinny Puppy. He yelled from his cube "HOORAY REAL MUSIC!!", answering my question. Later he introduced me to a bunch of punk rock bluegrass stuff that I loved. I think Adam was one of the few people I knew who had as diverse taste in music as I do. :D

I will cheers in your honor for the years to come. You are missed buddy!

Adam was so full of exuberance. He was always excited to make crazy, new concept pieces. I’ll miss that grin.

Adam Adamowicz was a man who was generous with his genius, whose madness was inspiring, whose smile flashed brilliantly in his eyes, and whose laughter reverberated with a joyful spirit that will forever echo in our souls. I never saw him without a grin and a sparkle in his eye, and he never spoke without saying something that made me laugh or planted a thought in my brain that no mortal had previously considered. Just standing next to Adam made one’s day 300% better than it had been prior. Those not blessed to know him can find in the legacy of his exceptional artwork what he gave to his friends and co-workers every day: permission to dream crazy thoughts and visit strange new lands. We are all lucky to have taken those journeys and grateful for the wonders with which we returned. We will miss you Adam.

As a world artist, I can look at Fallout or Skyrim and be proud of some of the locales that I was able to build. But in doing so, I must also recognize that the reason my buildings or locations looked as cool as they did, was often because Adam had a hand in their design. Adam brought a style and humor to his concepts that was uniquely his own, and when you saw one of them, it was always something you wanted to make.

As an artist Adam was an imaginative powerhouse. He perceived the world like no one else, and drew inspiration from everything classical and mundane. As a co-worker he was hard-working and tireless, disciplined, with a capacity for output that dwarfs most anyone I’ve known. And as a friend he was without peer, both a one-man party machine and a thoughtful, gentle soul. He was a total riot, completely unpretentious and perhaps not entirely sane. It’s no exaggeration to say that he’s one of the most influential people I have ever known, let alone had the pleasure of working with, and I know that his memory will keep me driven as both an artist and a human.

When I had trouble focusing or getting inspired, I would often find myself wandering into Adams area and just look at the vast amounts of art posted all over his walls. After looking at his work for a while and talking to him about what he was up to, I always found myself inspired enough to get back on track. He of course took each of my visits as an opportunity to gross me out with descriptions of mammoth cheeses oozing out of cut up mammoth trunks and how much of a delicacy that was.

Adam and I talked for a minute or two most days while we prayed to the gods of caffeine every morning.  I was treated to a journey through the goings on in his mind with stories, what ifs, and amusing philosophy.  I was always smiling after I talked to Adam.  It’s not usual to have such fondness someone you interact with for only a couple of minutes a day, but I think in Adam’s case it was probably normal.

Adam's brain worked very differently compared to the rest of us, resulting in a never-ending flow of creativity.  An incredible artist, he will be missed.


Adam Adamowicz