A schoolyard rhyme once reminded all children that “Girls go to college to get more knowledge, boys go to Jupiter to get more stupider.” While “stupider” isn’t a word and boys attend college as well, the taunting chant acknowledged many young women taking a hold of their future despite what men were doing. This is true for Game Artist and Netherlands native, Sandra da Cruz Martins, who designs characters, storylines, and settings for Candy Crush and continues to thrive in a male-dominated field.
“It’s very true that there’s always this need to prove yourself,” Martins admitted. “I personally had that, I’ve always had this feeling of because I’m a woman I need to work extra hard and do my best and show them I’m worthy while maybe a man wouldn’t be thinking of that.
“I do think the industry is becoming more and more mixed, but it’s not really that visible,” she said.
Proving female gamers are as real a deal as male gamers, Martins managed to snag an awesome job at King four years ago despite early aspirations to become a marine biologist and trouble with math.
“My specific mission is creating artwork for the levels that are being made by the level designers and also implementing them technically,” she told The Knockturnal.
A typical day for Martins starts with a cup of coffee in the office, settling her down as she revisits her work from the previous day which informs what she’ll share during the teams “stand up;” or recap of what was done and what needs to be done. “It’s really important that everyone is in sync,” she said. “I spend a big part of the day either drawing or looking back into our old art I may be reusing that because it’s faster and smarter. Or sometimes I have unique ideas I’ll draw from scratch.”
Specifically drawing different scenes, Martins focuses on the games main cast when creating different scenarios for players to work through. “We try to look everywhere in our own lives for inspiration, but really at one point what else can you do?” Martins asked when explaining her process. Turns out a big part of getting past that creative block is grabbing a drink with colleagues and brainstorming. A huge Marvel fan with a wanderlust and a sweet tooth, Martins uses her travels and movie watching as inspiration in her work.
“What I think is really cool about game art is that you have all these challenges and limitations you need to adhere to. In our case, we have our candy style guide and we have our way of implementing things,” she explained. “My creative process is that I look at my limitations.”
Taking her story into the art, Martins reserves her creative juices by participating in other projects in order to prevent her mission from becoming tedious. “I’m doing this [interview] now,” she said giving an example of things she pursues other than drawing. She also notes one of saving grace. “What really gets me going if I were to be in a dip is just the fans.”
As for her future at King, Martins shares, “Candy has been such a rollercoaster from the start that I never really felt like leaving. As long as they’ll have me, I want to keep working on it because it doesn’t get boring.”