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Into The Pixel: The Artists Speak


October 4, 2007 Article Start Page 1 of 3 Next
 

“When people think of video games, their first thought is of how they play,” says Ryan Stevenson, a concept artist at Rare Ltd. “The art and artist are often forgotten.

“Concept artists are even more shadowy,” adds the artist who has worked on It’s Mr. Pants, Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge and Viva Pinata since joining the UK-based developer (now part of Microsoft Game Studios) in 2001. “There aren’t many of us around and we’re specialists, so it’s not surprising we’re one of the least known professions in the games world.”

Lionhead Studios’ Mike McCarthy has come to a similar conclusion in the nearly eight years he has been in the industry.

“It’s common for people outside of the digital industry to be completely unaware of what exactly a games artist does,” says the concept artist who has worked on Black and White 2, The Movies: Stunts and Effects and Fable 2 since he joined the UK developer (also part of Microsoft Game Studios) three and a half years ago. “Ironically, I think people are under the impression that the computer does it all. The average reaction I get when I talk to people about being a games artist is, ‘Oh, do you actually have to draw, then?’”

Even some of McCarthy’s family and friends aren’t sure what he does as part of his 9-to-5. “I most commonly get referred to as ‘a computer game designer’ by my family if they’re asked what I do,” he says.


Mike McCarthy's 2007 Into the Pixel submission, "Lab" from Fable 2

“It’s easy to forget that everything computer generated on a screen has been designed by someone,” McCarthy adds. “Very few people are aware of it, but it’s massively important. The look and feel of the world you are immersed in is very much at the forefront of the experience, even if it’s ultimately the gameplay that decides whether or not it’s enjoyable. I suppose art is one of those things that is only ever noticed when it’s done stunningly well or, unfortunately, when it’s done badly.”

Cheol Joo Lee, a concept artist at Vancouver-based Relic Entertainment, goes a step further by suggesting games artists bring more to the table than the superficial bells and whistles consumers see when they boot up the final product.

“Artists are important for games in general, not just for game graphics,” says Lee, who has worked on Company of Heroes and Warhammer 40000: Dawn of War since joining Relic in 2003. “Not all artists are creative, but most artists are trained to develop creative ways of forming art, so their creative minds can be helpful for all aspects of game development.”


Article Start Page 1 of 3 Next

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