Full Sail University

How Creativity Fuels Hall of Fame Inductee Natalie Asport

The Senior Prop Artist at NetherRealm Studios funnels her creativity into game development, art, music, and education.

A headshot of a woman with a dark brown shag haircut smiling against a white background.

For video game developer, artist, educator, musician, and songwriter Natalie Asport, creativity is hard to funnel into just one interest. Since graduating at the top of her class while studying computer animation at Full Sail, Natalie has gone on to work on video game series including Mortal Kombat and Just Cause, teach as an adjunct game design professor at NYU Game Center, and perform as an independent musician, singer, and songwriter.

“I find that I just constantly find sources to get inspired with,” she says. “When I'm around other artists, when I'm around other art, it just naturally stays with me. As I'm watching a movie, playing a game, listening to music, I'm constantly thinking about that creation process.”

It just felt like everything that I loved was in one spot… [And students], they're here because they're like you. They want to pursue the arts and it's super serious to them. And you feed off of that.”

Consumed with creation, Natalie’s interest in art began in childhood. In elementary school, an art class opened her eyes to something her science and math studies had yet to: passion. Propelled by her new interest, Natalie would continue to hone her skills, taking pride in the “cool” factor that accompanied her artistic prowess.

“Growing up, I wasn't necessarily the cool kid when it came to sports and conventional popularity, but when it came to art, I was sort of that kid,” she jokes.

In high school, playing Naughty Dog’s Uncharted 2: Among Thieves unlocked a new level of interest in art, but this time it was the art behind a video game. One of the most visually appealing games of its time, Uncharted 2 boasted rich environments, stunning landscapes, and award-winning gameplay, and for Natalie, a catalyst to her future career.

“I started looking into everything about the game,” she recalls. “I came across a behind-the-scenes video…and they were talking about how they made the game. It showed pictures of, I believe it was Maya, and these developers were just working on their computers. And I never saw that before. That's when it clicked for me: ‘This is made by a specialist, by specific people that have a specific skill set and they're really happy.’

“I was like, ‘That's what I want to do.’”

Set on a career in game art, Natalie enrolled at Full Sail, studying computer animation and preparing for her future career. “When I was at Full Sail, it was the first time where I was in school and I was exactly doing what I wanted to do,” she says. “It just felt like everything that I loved was in one spot… [And students], they're here because they're like you. They want to pursue the arts and it's super serious to them. And you feed off of that.”

Excelling in her studies, Natalie would continue to pursue her passion for creativity after graduation, landing a job at Avalanche Studios – the AAA developer behind the Just Cause series, RAGE, and Contraband.

Initially interested in working in character art, Natalie found herself working as an environment, vehicles, and weapons artist during her time at the studio. “I dove right into environments and vehicles really early on. I really like working on things that you can break apart. Characters are one thing, but to be able to recreate things that people do in the real world and try to create them in 3D is another.”

Natalie, finally building the kinds of worlds she had become so fascinated with in her youth, didn’t cease on her need to share, learn, and create. As if designing games weren’t enough, in 2018 Natalie also co-designed NYU Game Center’s 3D Modeling for Games course, which she now teaches as an adjunct professor.

“I love it so much and I've learned so much from students. It's really helped me be more well-rounded, I think, as an artist, too, because I could bring it back to my day-to-day work. [My students] are aspiring and they have dreams. And I see that and it inspires me so much.”

Fueled by her full-time job and inspired by her part-time one, Natalie still finds time to pursue her love of creating in other ways, specifically, music. An independent singer and songwriter, the game-loving grad is also a guitarist and vocalist for NYC-based band Chaos Pixie. Natalie, keeping a constant pulse on her creativity, finds bouncing between interests as her own form of therapy.

“I’ll finish up work and then I'll head out to go play a show,” she says. “If I'm working from home and stuck, I'll pick up my guitar and I'll start playing a song and I get it out of my system. So I feel like when I do it, it just makes me even more motivated to do other things.”