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


Theo Prins

Guild Wars 2

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

This was a piece made to set the tone for a Guild Wars 2 Living World release. Living World is how we refer to content releases that expand on the experience in our MMO game by introducing new storylines, settings and characters, similar to new episodes for a television series. For this particular release, we wanted to show refugees pouring out of a mountainous region of the game to escape a mysterious threat. I particularly enjoyed creating a sense of vastness in this piece. Iíd been to the Himalayas in Nepal a few years earlier and was definitely tapping into those experiences when I painted this.

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

Itís hard to give just one - I like stylized game worlds with clutter-free, bold design. I love cyberpunk shanty towns. Beyond Good and Evil, Oddworld: Strangerís Wrath, Journey, Jack II and Half Life 2 are some of my favorites.

Beyond Good and Evil

Could you tell us more about your journey in how you became a game artist and your current position?

Iíve always been very fixated on creating little worlds I could dwell in. When I was a kid I was often carving tunnels in bushes and making forts in sandboxes. I used to make giant cities that spanned the whole living room out stacks of books and kitchen appliances. In spite of drawing and painting a lot throughout my childhood, I didnít consider the idea of becoming an artist as a profession until later in high school. I wanted to become a pilot because I loved flight, and drew a lot of airplanes in my teens. I earned money for flying lessons by selling airplane portraits at the local airport. When I was introduced to a Wacom tablet in high school, I dropped flying lessons and focused on digital painting. I posted my work online, which eventually led to my first opportunities in the game industry. I feel very fortunate that I earn a living doing exactly what I used to enjoy as a kid. In spirit, Iím still just digging tunnels in a sandbox and making couch forts.

What do you look to for inspiration when you create an art piece?

Besides lots of books and online material, Iíve drawn a lot of inspiration from traveling. Prior to starting at ArenaNet in 2012, I'd been living and working abroad for several years. I took a container ship voyage, traveled on trains, and lived in South Korea, Hong Kong, India and Nepal looking for experiences that would fuel my artwork. I've soaked in a lot of impressions from all of these places and see them popping up in my artwork all the time.

Do you have any tips you would give to aspiring game artists?

If there's something that inspires you, hold on to it, protect it and keep developing it. Pass on opportunities that feel like distractions from what you really want to create, even if there's a lot of pressure to say yes. For me, itís always been important to make artwork primarily out of a love and excitement for the creative process and the world Iím creating. I try as hard as I can to keep myself in a mindset that allows that to happen.

What is a random/unique fact about ArenaNet or yourself that others may not know?

The Ergatron arm holding up my Cintiq is too weak, so I prop it up with a can of black beans.

Where can fans follow your work online?

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