Scrolling through ArtStation’s “picks” section every week since the site’s founding has allowed me to make a number of observations about the entertainment industry and the artists who adorn it with its echoing aesthetic. Today, we only have time to talk about one; it seems that there is only a handful of “trendsetters”. These are the artists who can post a new artwork and watch as the community produces hundreds of pieces that were inspired by (or copying, depending on your point of view) their vision. This chain reaction paved the way for a peculiar relationship between aspiring concept artists and the industry they are striving towards as it is often defined by a game of catch-up. But there are others who, like the Old Masters, find inspiration through introspection and first-hand experiences in the world.
The recent influx of cyberpunk works has led a number of people to think that its static vision of hi-tech dystopias must evolve if it means to survive, but this reimagining doesn’t seem like a good idea to fans of the genre. After all, the cautionary tale it offers its audience is only just beginning to be relevant now that a Blade Runner-esque world has become one of mankind’s potential futures. As Eddie Mendoza says, “I think that we are already kind of living in that cyberpunk era.” With this in mind, it might be fair to say that cyberpunk’s unchanging message is yet to reach its zenith—something that’s bound to happen if we ever begin to see its many worlds morphing into ours.
Whenever you ask, “what’s the top city for artists to live in?” There will always be a good number of people who’ll default to saying, “Amsterdam”. And there’s a myriad of real reasons for that. After all, the city houses the Van Gogh Museum, Rembrandt’s The Night Watch, and even Guerrilla Games, the AAA studio with one of the game industry’s strongest art departments. It’s a city that’s brought change into many artist’s lives, and as it happens, one of those artists is Thomas Rohlfs, a thirty-five year old freelance illustrator.
In 3302, the Elite: Dangerous community undertook its first major expedition—Distant Worlds. Together with the help of a great many volunteers, CMDR Erimus and CMDR Dr. Kaii were able to synchronize over a thousand ships and launch a voyage that would change the game’s community forever. Now, in 3305, a follow-up called Distant Worlds II is being planned. Set to launch on the 13th of January, this expedition boasts over 5,000 sign-ups and requires far greater fleet logistics than its predecessor. The 20 week outbound trip to Beagle Point will take thousands of commanders 65,000ly away from Sol in hopes of, among other things, constructing a Starport in Sagittarius A*. With the sheer number of commanders and Frontier’s official support, there’s no reason to believe that DW2 won’t be the game’s most memorable journey to date.
Romain Jouandeau is a French concept artist who’s currently working on Ghost of Tsushima over at Sucker Punch Productions. Admittedly, we didn’t hear anything about the game until Sony’s E3 2018 press conference, but the gameplay reveal showed a visually striking action-adventure game set in 12th century Japan—putting you in the shoes of one of the few samurai that survived the Mongol Empire’s invasion of Tsushima. Surprisingly, a few days after we saw the VOD, one of our staff writers stumbled upon Jouandeau’s ArtStation portfolio and found a piece for this new game—the one that was selected for the “Into the Pixel” collection. That’s when we knew that we needed to get in touch with Jouandeau to talk about effective environment design.
In the early 2010s, we began to read about the vinyl revival, and now, in 2018, it looks as though it’s here to stay. But why are we telling you about vinyls? The answer is simple—our team is filled to the brim with vinyl connoisseurs! This is why we’re so excited about our exclusive interview with Chris Topham, a charming gentleman who owns a record label called Plane Groovy. When I asked David Longdon about him, he told me that Topham is almost evangelical about vinyl. In other words, we’re talking about a man with a long-lasting passion for music, and there’s always a thing or two that we can learn from people like that.
It’s not every day that I get to meet an artist who has worked for a developer for more than a decade, but as it turns out, Matt Rhodes was already working as an intern for BioWare in the latter half of the 2000s, toiling away to bring Jade Empire to your Xbox. The then intern was given the opportunity to work on the first installment in the Mass Effect trilogy, paving the way for him to continue on and ship six AAA productions with the Canadian developer. Matt is now an Art Director, so it’s clear that his years’ worth of experience paid off, in the interview, he writes, “My role is to support and defend the art team, cultivate and promote the visual direction of the project, and to foster a culture of critique.” Adding that at the time of this writing, he’s just starting with his Art Director role, but that this explanation encapsulates the methodology of other art directors who he hopes to approximate. And I sincerely believe in his ability to do just that.
Irakli Nadar is a Georgian digital artist whose main focus is creating hyper-realistic portraits of beautiful models and pop culture icons. As I see it, all of Nadar’s portraits have been successful because all of them have gone viral and brought him thousands of awestruck followers on social media. This artist’s portfolio is a combination of hyper-realism, wonderful lighting, and a set of unique renditions of popular characters like Overwatch’s Mercy and Princess Mononoke.
Andreas Rocha is a Portuguese environment artist who specializes in fantasy and Sci-Fi. He started out with a degree in architecture, but now he’s working as a freelance concept artist whilst creating exclusive content for his sixty-seven patrons. In the past, Rocha’s painterly style earned him the opportunity to work for world-renowned clients like Fantasy Flight Games, The Mill and Wizards of the Coast. Now, you can often find him posting amazing fantastical paintings on his ArtStation page. Our personal favorite is “High Places,” which is a piece he created for one of his Patreon illustration packs (inspired by Paro Taktsang monastery in Bhutan). In this exclusive interview, we will discuss how Rocha feels about Patreon and the benefits that it can bring.
The new Battle Chasers: Night War (2017) is a unique RPG game that needs its artists to work in a very specific art style—an art style like Grace Liu’s. It’s no surprise that hand-painted low-poly 3D will always feel at home in a stylized game, and that’s why the vast majority of you might have seen Liu’s work in games like Diablo III (2012) and League of Legends (2009). With nine years’ worth of experience and the opportunity to work at Blizzard Entertainment, Riot Games and Airship Syndicate, I’m sure that she has a lot to teach us all.