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

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Laurel Austin

Blizzard Entertainment
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

Please give us your name, company and position.

Laurel Austin, Blizzard Entertainment, and Iím a Senior Illustrator. Iím an Illustrator in the Anvil, but I do a lot of different sorts of jobs.†Key art is one of my primary jobs, but I did a lot of the final artwork for our Lords of War series that came out with Warlords of Draenor in addition to paint masters for our collectible statues.

Tell us more about your winning Into the Pixel piece Ė what does it showcase?† How long did it take to create?†

A lot of my job is creating key art for our various games. This one was for the Goblins VS Gnomes release for our mobile card game Hearthstone, which was its first big expansion.† Most illustrations I do take around 3 weeks to complete, and this one was about that, as I recall.

What/who are some of the biggest influences on your art?

I try to change it up from game to game.†Hearthstone is all about the bounciest, most fun and lighthearted parts of the Warcraft universe, so stylistically I like to push it into a more cartoony space than I would for a World of Warcraft piece.

As far as art influences, James Gurney, Sebastian Krueger, Paul Bonner, Phil Hale, as well as historical painters like John Singer Sargent, John Waterhouse and golden age illustrators like Howard Pyle, Norman Rockwell and JC Leyendecker.†I was a D&D kid, so the great fantasy artists who worked for TSR, like Larry Elmore, Jeff Easley and Brom really.† Too many to mention, really!

What has been your favorite piece you have ever worked on and why?†

Iím not sure I can answer that!†Hearthstone is one of my favorite Blizzard games to do work for, and I also painted the original announcement art. In the original key art I tried to echo some art historical references. The Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks to Sultan Mamoud IV by Ilya Repin was the jumping off point for the composition.†If I managed to capture even a fraction of the charm and awesomeness of that painting, Iíll have succeeded beyond my wildest dreams.

Are there any games where the art really resonated with you?† What about in any other mediums like TV/movies/books?† ††

Team Fortress 2 has been my favorite game art-wise for a long time.

Team Fortress 2

Jurassic Park and Dinotopia were big for me in similar ways.†Dinotopia was the first art style I tried to mimic as a professional artist. I was floored by how real the dinosaurs felt, when they were put in to the same environments at humans.†I was at a very impressionable age when Jurassic Park first came out, and it did the same thing in a more visceral, cinematic (and scarier) fashion.† The business of creating worlds and really making them feel real was something that I really wanted to do.† Those two iconic pieces of pop culture showed me it was possible.

What tips would you give to students/aspiring artists that want to enter the gaming industry?†

Itís a competitive world out there and the standards are really high.†It can be hard when youíre a student to know whether your portfolio is good enough.†What Iíve found, is that when you put your art online and it is at a professional standard, the world will notice you.† Donít worry about falling under the radar.† Just post your stuff in all the places you can, and youíll get the feedback.†Silence means youíre probably not there yet, but shares and notes and comments will mean people are really responding to you, and employers probably will too.

Do you have any art galleries or profiles online where people can check out your work?†

My work can be found on my personal website at†www.LaurelDAustinArt.com.

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