He challenged himself to draw three hundred and sixty-six unique, story-laced illustrations […]
Some of you may remember our 2016 interview with Even Mehl Amundsen, and we hope that you’re as excited to catch up with him as we are! For those of you who don’t know, Even is a Norwegian concept artist who specializes in fantasy art. In the past, he has lived in Canada, Czech republic, Norway and the UK, and he has had the opportunity to work for companies like Blizzard Entertainment and VOLTA as he made his way around the world. Now you can find him back Norway, or more specifically, Oslo, where he is working on TEGN. This is Even’s art-book series, a project he started when he challenged himself to draw three hundred and sixty-six unique, story-laced illustrations over the course of one year.
TEGN is a series that aspires to create a “full universe in three books,” and TEGN: book two is currently available for pre-order, with book three set to come out this winter. This is why we thought that now is the perfect time to catch up with Even! And so, in this interview, we wanted to learn more about how he got to a point where he can publish a series of art-books like this, and how he feels about where the project is heading. Without further ado, let’s meet with the man behind all of the trolls, vikings and witches once more!
“366 days, 366 sketches telling 366 stories, some smaller, some greater.” This is quite a concept! When did you decide that you really want to make TEGN?
Hmm, that’s a questions that defies a “good” answer, as it was more of a thing that I happened upon, and then it grew into something more cohesive after a while, and it kept building up until I figured a year would be a good amount of time to go for, and a leap year at that. Making larger stories and little arcs was something that came along once the project had been going on for a while, and from the many smaller stories grew more complex ideas, and they demanded a world!
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The Midnight Dance
Our readers might not know a great deal about the story, so could you tell us a little bit about the world of TEGN and its inhabitants?
The world that the stories play out in is kind of a mystery so far, as much for the audience as it is for me at the moment. I spend a lot of time doing world-building, feeding a lot off of ancient history, so the setting will be influenced by that, both in terms of cultures and characters, but also magic and the kinds of stories and monsters and races that might live there. So while some of the classical elements of fantasy are still there, I want to try and avoid the more cliched ones.
Maybe even reinvent them in some way.
Ink and Blood
This is a bit more personal, but are you happy with how it’s going? A lot of artists dream of projects like this, but you’re already there. Right now. I see lots of who are showing you their support, so I’d assume that it’s a very rewarding project, even if it does take a lot of time and effort on your part.
I’m pretty excited about the story I’m cooking up at the moment. After I finished the year, I took it easy for a little while, focusing on freelance, so getting back to the stories and characters and trying to figure out this world is awesome! It’s incredibly fun to see other people getting a kick out of the world-building as well, especially when they find little design clues in the pieces I put out. In terms of the project getting to a point where it could be a sustainable full time thing, it’s a pretty strong start!
The new Battle Chasers: Night War (2017) is a 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 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 Liu’s got a lot of invaluable knowledge to share with us.
It’s interesting to note that Liu worked at Riot Games back in 2013, meaning that she was right on time to join in on the 2014 Summoner’s Rift update. Maybe, after reading our exclusive interview, you’ll be making your way past the blue buff with her in mind, as she was responsible for a number of our favourite jungle islands’ compositions, and the 1st and 2nd pass of construction. This brings me to my next point: Liu’s ability to work in 3D is something that allows her to make headway in a very competitive industry. It goes without saying that AAA studios value artists who can take a concept and make it into a game-ready asset reliably.
So, if you’re looking to learn more about what it’s like to work on stylized games, stay tuned for Vox Groovy’s exclusive interview with Grace Liu.
What about the “technicalities” of publishing? Did you get any help?
Yeah, I activated the real life cheat code called Spiro, or Spiridon Giannakis if you wanna be fancy. My essential idea for the publishing end of the project was to compile a PDF and give it out if people wanted it, and Spiridon damn near ripped my head off, screaming maniacally about the art of printing and the varied qualities of paper. So it was more based on a need for self-preservation than anything else.
Daily Sketches 3
Your new painting, ‘Ink and Blood,’ is my favorite artwork of yours. How did you go about making it?
I began working on that one when I was sitting together with my best friend, who is a tattoo artist. I was watching him work and we were chatting about old tattoo techniques, and it got me thinking about how tattoos are the very hallmark of barbarians in fantasy. So, I decided that I would try to break that tired old model of barbarians that you see so often, while still retaining the appealing elements of it.
Now, The Varangian Guard, vikings in service to the byzantine emperors was a fitting backdrop to refer to, and I began to imagine a similar set of warriors in imperial hire, engaging master tattooists from the east to chronicle their exploits in their flesh, and then how this would manifest over the generations. I imagine that the tradition would grow ever-more expressive as their fortunes rose, with colors and piercings and other decorations to substantiate their personal legends, and how to make this into a visual hierarchy, and so on, though I had to kinda start it somewhere.
what language you speak. The team at Vox Groovy will make it so that everyone can hear your interview on the radio.
Our new programme Art Relax (EN) will be launching soon.
You’ll know that this is the go-to place for every art enthusiast as soon as you tune in!
The Shield of Sand ans Silver
I feel like this is a great example of how research can have a HUGE impact on a world and how believable it is. Do you have any tips that could help artists with this?
Yeah, so, the best idea I think I can try and spread around goes something like this: Illustration is a language more than anything else, so it’s all about communicating ideas. How well we do this is determined by what we say, and how we say it, and these can be massively influenced by how well we know the subject matter and its context. Therefore, getting to know all of the things that move around the thing you want to say can be extremely useful.
I guess that’s us done! Should we be looking forward to a third book?
Oh hell yeah! It should be coming at the end of this year.
By Vox Groovy staff writer;
All images used with permission by the artist.
© Even Mehl Amundsen or respective copyright holders.
Article in Slovak language;