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Russia as tourist. When I arrived I asked for political asylum but the American government had just de-
cided to make the USSR its No, 1 friend, so they stopped giving political
asyium. Luckily.I am good at what I do, so I was able to build a case. The Immigration and Naturalization Service granted me residency 10 years later.

Why America?

Louis Armstrong and Muhammed All have been my role models since I was a little kid. I boxed for many

"We were taught (that)
if you stop working at any moment during the creating process your work must look beautiful.

Greg Orduyan


years, since age 11. It's a sport I love. I read American authors and studied American artists. I made it my business to understand American culture. Ten years later, I'm far from that goal.

At 20, newly arrived in New York City, how did you find work in art
and animation?

I created new credits for a collectors', edition video of "Bewitched." I also did computer graphics for the set of Broadway show "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying," with Matthew Broderick. I also freelanced with NBC, creating the logo for NBC Olympic coverage.

One agency worked with a children's book publisher, so we made an animated show "The Maestro Plays"
based on a children's books. Like "South Park," but without the violence
and bad language.

I was also showing like crazy. I would want to do a small show, and it ended up being a big show.

What was your training?

I studied art for 10 years in Russia. Russia has a long tradition in art and a good school for educating artists.
The tradition is classical training; the
By Allna Larson
HEN a Russian guy is working on video games, a quintessential American

pastime, all traces of the Cold War must be gone.. Belmont resident Greg Orduyan, who escaped from the Soviet Union 10 years ago, uses his artistic skills for more than just games, however. The painter
currently showing at a tony Soho gallery in New York and former animator sees the three roles and their skills as complementary. The dangerous scenarios created in many video games are similar to those
Orduyan and his family faced in real life in the former Soviet Union. For Orduyan, it was a coup which catalyzed his determination to leave. During a government coup, a ring of tanks surrounded the huge state-run television station where Orduyan, then
a 19-year-old animator, worked. Now, at 30, Orduyan is successful as both a fine artist and a digital artist with Konami Computer Entertainment America in Redwood City, with a story made for movies.

How did you escape?

At 19, a friend came to United States and was able to bring back the right papers to allow me to leave

PrevSan Mateo TimesNext


LOCAL ARTIST Greg Orduyan will be exhibiting his work in New York. Orduyan, who escaped from the Soviet Union 10 years ago, studied art in Russia. Now he paints and designs video games.

American joystick

Russian emigre succeeds at fine and digital arts


  Please see Biographic, LIVING-4

From Russia with love

Continued from LIVING-1

techniques were developed during the Renaissance. Russians fell in love with Impressionism more than any other country, and my teacher was Russian Impressionist. We were
taught (that) if you stop working at any moment during the creating process your work must look beautiful. It must look like a piece of art after 20 minutes even though it may take 80 hours to finish.

How would you describe
your work?

A fusion of classical, Impressionism and avant-garde. Everything. I believe all the medias can coexist in harmony. One media complements other media.
I work with paper, canvas, cardboard, sheet metal, wood, acrylic, 'oil. I create recognizable images, though they get pretty abstract.

How did you then get intocreating video games?

I started working at Konami in Chicago. My first game was "Beat the Champ" it had four

events, golf, football, basketball and baseball.

I realized that I could do different things with the same skill. Like a bricklayer can build a townhouse or school both buildings but different purposes. The skills the remain the same, the product was different. I love video games. I only do things I love. Life is too short to waste on things you don't care for. Plus, I realized this would help me learn the culture. If you haven't seen "Star Wars" you aren't going to understand the references.

What goes into making a video game?

To develop a game, it can
take one to two years, based on size of the team and the complexity of game. Since I've worked for Konami for five years, I learned what components go into a successful video
game. There are wars between what marketers want to do and what
developers want to do, and there are wars between programmers and artists. It's a

very complicated process. It's rare that things get developed. Sometimes it's frustrating. You also have to deal with the interaction between many different people. On one team we had an English guy, a Filipino, a Korean, a Japanese and me, a Russian.

What do you have in the
works right now?

One of the most important
things for sports games is the creators have to be passionate and knowledgeable about the
game. For me that's boxing.
I offer a unique perspective because there are not too many people who are into boxing who also develop video games I think I'm the only one. I see other boxing games that contradict rules of boxing. I did research, talked to boxing coaches, watched boxing tapes, went back to the ring to box. Boxing is a beautiful but dying art form. I'm the last of a dying breed.

You can reach Alina Larson at
(650)348-4333 or by e-mail at