The Banner Saga
Could you tell us more about the Banner Saga Poster and the inspiration behind it?
This poster was one of the very first pieces of art I did for The Banner Saga. We'd just finished plotting out the whole story and were of the mind to design a piece that would encapsulate the mood of the whole planned epic. There's symbology in the poster that people will not understand until the third and final game of the series comes out.
What is one of your favorite games artistically?
Without a second thought I would say that Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery was a big moment in my gaming life specially as far as art is concerned. That game was done with a lot of love and it shows through. I was about 10 minutes into the game when I decided that I needed to start my own company and do stuff like this, in that it was not at all your average video game fare. SB:S&S was something unique that could only be accomplished by a small motivated team of game designers who wanted to kick ass.
Where do you look for inspiration when you create your artwork?
Of course the American master Eyvind Earle was the main inspiration for the art in The Banner Saga, but a lesser known inspiration came from the children's books by Ingri and Edgar Parin D'Aulaire, both Lief the Lucky and Book of Norse Myths. When some Russians first saw The Banner Saga they told me that the style was reminiscent of Ivan Bilibin and while I didn't know of his work I'll take it, that guy is amazing.
Why did you decide to be an artist in the gaming industry and how did that journey lead to Stoic Studio?
I came from a background in comic books and worked for most major publishers in that field. About 15 years ago I got an offer from Ion Storm up in Dallas to come and start a comic division for them and I jumped at the chance because I saw it as a stepping stone to get into games. You see, I've had a minor addiction to playing games since I was just a wee lad and couldn't imagine being in a better industry. For about 13 years I worked for large companies in games and eventually kinda got burned out on the idea of developing art by committee. When I was in comics I was the only one making the call on the direction of something I drew, but now I was just a cog in the machine so to speak. It was the advent of smaller independent studios making really good games that showed me it was possible. I'd be at work drawing a meaningless 'wearable #45b', but daydreaming of working on my own ideas. I felt as if I was a little kid again with tons of ideas and images in my head with no way to get out...I had to find a couple of like-minded people and work on something I was passionate about.
What is a tip you would give an aspiring game artist trying to break into the games industry?
Do you know anyone already in the industry? Pester them.
Do you know what company you're going to be sending your online portfolio to? Tailor your work to them and what they're doing.
Is your style "mainstream" and does it look just like the plethora of other really freaking good concept artists out there (you know them) working in film and games? If the answer is "no, I've got my own style" then be prepared for a very long, yet perhaps personally rewarding haul.
I was Lead Concept Artist on a few titles and all things being equal I would ALWAYS pick the guy/gal that seemed cool and nice. If we ever had to lay someone off I'd always pick the guy/gal that was a jerk...regardless of art skill. The greatest tip I can give for anyone that wants to work with other people in any capacity is "be friendly'. No one wants to live 8-10 hours a day with someone who makes their life more difficult.
What is a random/unique fact about the game you’re working on or yourself that others may not know?
I'm still waiting for people to figure out I don't know what the hell I'm doing. Seriously. I wake up daily wondering if today is the day I simply won't be able to draw anymore, I got lucky yesterday. It's that tenuous. Art is not relaxing for me, sitting down at the computer and looking at a white screen is like fisticuffs. It's rewarding when you win the fight, for sure, but you know you could easily lose the next one. Exhausting. When I have nothing to do I doodle because I like it and it relaxes me.
Where can fans follow your work online or through social media?
I don't have any personal blogs or portfolios. I barely know how to Tweet anything and I don't even have an icon for my Facebook page. If you like The Banner Saga though and want to know more and be up on what's currently going on then head on over to stoicstudio.com, it will melt your mind.