Into the Pixel - An Exhibition of the Art of he Video Game    


John Sweeney

Naughty Dog
The Last of Us

Could you tell us more about the Last Stand art piece and the inspiration behind it?

When the setting of The Last of Us: Left Behind was decided, I was immediately reminded of all the mallís I had grown up around. This particular image was actually the first idea that came to mind when talking about the setting. I thought it would be great as a player to have your gun drawn as you wait for figures to emerge out of the shadows, from behind mannequins and old dusty clothes. If the piece calls for it, I always try and think about what the gameplay could be, or rather what the mood of the player will be when theyíre moving through the environment. If I can get that mood across through my concept then Iíve done my job.†

What is one of your favorite games from an artistic perspective and why?

Aside from what I see here at the studio every day, the most recent game I was most impressed with from a graphical and aesthetic standpoint was probably Ryse: Son of Rome. I found the values and color palettes very satisfying, and consistent throughout the game. Each level had a very clear direction. Red Dead Redemption is still one of the most beautiful games Iíve played, and I still find myself stopping to enjoy the sunset as I ride across the desert.

Ryse: Son of Rome

What is your favorite art style or medium? †What about that style or medium inspires you?

I couldnít say that I have one favorite style or medium, but lately Iíve been very much into Dean Mitchellís water colors. He manages to portray texture in a very simple way, all while presenting something that in reality is very detailed in a graphic manner. I try and keep an open mind to all avenues of art, whether it be video games, film, traditional paintings, or my peers around me. Thereís so much inspiration out there regardless of style or medium.

Dean Mitchell: Mr. Northern

Could you tell us more about your journey in how you became an artist and how you got to your current position?

I†had always drawn growing up, but when I had the opportunity to visit a Sony Santa Monica Studios at the age of twelve I saw the joining of two of my favorite things, art and videogames. I saw a concept artist sitting with three drawing tables around him and about a thousand Prismacolor markers. I knew then, thatís what I wanted to do. I went on to study at Valley Art Institute in High School, and then studied at Otis College of Art and Design where I mostly worked in traditional mediums. After graduating I continued to take art classes at Red Engine School of Design, as well as read and watch as much educational material as I could. I was fortunate to be surrounded by other concept artists who helped me along the way and gave sound critique and advice while I was getting my portfolio together and learning how to use the tools necessary to be a digital artist. It all snapped when I was on a trip in Europe with Eytan Zana (Naughty Dog), and Shaddy Safadi (One Pixel Brush) where we painted digital plein air paintings for a month. Once back from that trip I felt comfortable enough in the medium to put together a portfolio and start applying for work. Naughty Dog was always my first choice in terms of where I wanted to work. I grew up with their games, and getting to work on The Last of Us was a dream come true.†

What has been some of your favorite games that you worked on? †

The Last of Us, and The Last of Us: Left Behind DLC where my first two game projects that Iíve worked on, and both have been extremely exciting and educational. Making the transition from playing games to making games has been awesome, and has greatly influenced how I look at the medium. Iím really excited to work on future projects here as the technology continues to evolve. †

Where can fans follow your work online or through social media?†

You need to upgrade your Flash Player. If you are not redirected to the Flash upgrade page, please click here.