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


Theo Prins

Guild Wars 2

Theo Prins is a concept artist working at ArenaNet on Guild Wars 2. He grew up in the Pacific Northwest and the Netherlands and spent most of his childhood drawing airplanes, cities and dinosaurs. As a teenager he financed flying lessons with aviation art commissions but dropped his idea of becoming a pilot when he discovered the world of digital painting.†

Since 2007 he's been working as a concept artist in the video game industry. This opened the doors to a somewhat nomadic existence. First he worked for CCP games in Iceland, then Reloaded studios in South Korea and eventually began freelancing on the go while traveling throughout Asia. He's had a temporary studio space aboard a container ship crossing the Pacific Ocean, telecommuted from the Himalayan foothills, lived on a small island off Hong Kong, visited ship breaking yards in India and has extensively explored street markets and alleyways around Asia.†Since 2012, heís been based in the US working at ArenaNet in the Seattle area.†

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

This is a piece of concept art created for the Maguuma Jungle region in Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns, the upcoming expansion to Guild Wars 2. Iíd been taking hikes in the Seattle area throughout the summer, in part to get keep ideas rolling for the work I was doing in Guild Wars 2. This was one of the pieces that resulted from the impressions I took in. It depicts a scene of massive fallen hollow logs at the base of the jungle floor. I thought a scene like this would be refreshing and awe-inspiring to explore. I worked on it over the course of a week. ††

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

The paintings Iíve done for Guild Wars 2 as of late have been some of my favorites. Some of my favorites from the past were a series of paintings inspired by cities in Asia that I converted to stereoscopic pairs. My favorite pieces are the ones that most vividly put me in my imagination. What I really love about painting and drawing is the extra layer of sensations, colors, moods and images that I experience in my imagination as Iím making a piece of artwork. Itís those feelings that prompt me to put down brush strokes. In a sense, the paintings that result from that process are just the tip of the iceberg. I wouldn't be able to start and finish pieces of artwork if there wasn't a large enough part of myself experiencing the world in the art as a real a place. †

What are some of the biggest changes in game art that youíve witnessed over your career? ††

I started working as a concept artist in 2007, but for myself there havenít been many changes. Fundamentally I still approach my work in the same way as I did back then. I feel having clarity in my imagination is still the most powerful tool I can develop. Much of my effort on a day to day basis goes towards building mental clarity and staying sensitive to the world. Without that I wouldnít be able to draw, paint, use 3D or make meaningful use of any tool at all. I think thatís the aspect of creative work that wonít change and itís also the one I can see myself happily focusing on for years to come. † †

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

Itís always difficult to pick favorites. I found myself getting really immersed into games like Half Life 2, OddWorld: Strangerís Wrath, Beyond Good and Evil, Jak 2, Rayman the Great Escape, and Journey. While I love visuals and art on their own as well, in the context of games I want the art to trick me into feeling immersed in the world. I also love Studio Ghibli films. Always. ††

Half-Life 2

What are you most looking forward to for the 2015-2016 gaming year? †

I'm excited to see what experiences VR will open up in the coming years. Iíve experimented with stereoscopy a lot over the years but was always sad that I couldnít find a stereoscopic viewer that allowed me to see distant objects in a scene at infinite distance to get a life-like sense of scale. I'm excited about how VR will open up new ways for artists to express a sense of place. ††

Is there anyone you would like to thank for either helping you on the art piece or for your journey so far as a game artist?†

I've been very fortunate to work on projects I love, and that the right people have scoped me out at the right moments. I have to thank Daniel Dociu, the studio art director at ArenaNet, for my time on Guild Wars 2 the last 3 years. He's been a huge support. Jamie Ro, my lead, has been very supportive of me as well, and the fact that the concept art team there is the friendliest group of people I know makes a huge difference. And of course my parents and brother have been a huge support for me as an artist since I was a kid.†

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