Notable Native: John Lomax

By Metro Editor

Like most teenagers, John Lomax loved to play video games but unlike most teenagers he turned his passion into a career. He is now a senior artist at Phosphor Games Studio, 1144 W. Fulton St. Lomax creates props, architecture and environments for video games in Fulton Market, one of Chicago’s most popular tech hubs.

Coupled with his lifelong passion for drawing and interest in web design, Lomax embraced game design while attending Columbia, when the program was in its infancy. During his junior year, Midway Games gave him his first game design job before it filed for bankruptcy in 2009.

When Lomax was looking for a job after graduating in 2010, he came across a social media advertisement for Phosphor Games Studio. Many of his favorite Midway colleagues were working at Phosphor, and after falling in love with the atmosphere, Lomax decided to apply. He has now been at the company for more than four years and continues to enjoy the videogame projects and unique collaborations with his co-workers.

The Chronicle spoke with Lomax over the phone about working in Fulton Market, his fear of the “Silent Hill” video game and his favorite game genre.

THE CHRONICLE: What makes Fulton Market appealing to companies like Phosphor Games?

John Lomax: I think what is most appealing about it is the vast amount of creative loft spaces for rent and also the traveling convenience, as well. I feel like companies making the jump to the West Loop to begin businesses have almost a comfortable feeling being surrounded by fellow creative minds. Regardless of it being a video game, motion graphics or a web design studio, it still is refreshing seeing and absorbing all of that on an everyday basis. What I enjoy most about the area is the amount of entertainment so close to work. [There are] plenty of great restaurants and bars, and during the summertime it’s even more enjoyable since a majority of them have outdoor patio and rooftop seating.

CC: What do you enjoy about working at Phosphor Games Studio?

JL: Phosphor really isn’t a very large company, and I think that’s something I like the most because everything is very personal. I sit next to a lot of artists, but I also sit right across from designers [and] programmers, and just a couple steps away [are] all of our tech guys. If there is anything that I have the slightest input on of those other areas, I can always just speak my mind and whatever I say could be implemented into the game.

CC: Is there a particular genre you lean toward?

JL: Personally, what I enjoy making art for is anything horror-related. I got to work on [a game] called “The Dark Meadow” for mobile devices, which was a pretty cool game to work on. It was in an abandoned hospital and it had a very creepy “Silent Hill” vibe to it. [I also] did work for a game called “Nether,” which is a survivor, horror-based game. I got to do some really cool set dressing with blood and stuff like that. I’m really into horror films so that’s the kind of stuff I enjoy doing.

CC: What are some of your favorite horror games to play?

JL: My favorite horror game of all time is always going to be “Silent Hill.” I really enjoy that franchise. It’s just like a really huge mind trip while playing. Digitally, it’s really disturbing and something about evoking the emotion of being scared while playing a game is fun to me. It doesn’t even have to be me playing, but people playing. In high school, people would always come over and play that game and I wouldn’t even want to touch it, but now that I’m a little bit older, I’m not so easily scared.

CC: Did you always want to be a gamer?

JL: At some point in high school I wanted to be a professional skate-boarder. There are all sorts of different things that I wanted to do, but I always knew I wanted to do something art-related, and video games are something that I fell into.