While the allure of gaming conventions like GX Australia may be the chance to get to play the latest and greatest in video games, be they finalised AAA games by big studios, or the smaller, still in production, passion-fuelled creations of single developers, the reason why we are all here, attendees, volunteers, developers and designers, is the art. Everyone at this con has something they want to say with their chosen medium: Games. Video games, board games, text adventures and anything else the human mind can conceive.
So as I was walking down the broad halls of the convention hall I was drawn to one designer who wasn’t showing off a game. Instead they were displaying art for sale and were in excited discussion with every game designer and curious attendee that walked past. Ethan Strange is, as their moniker might hint, not your normal game designer. Fuelled by an unquenchable appetite to create the weirdest and the best of whatever pops into their head at the time. Cyberpunk line-art in pastel colours cover one side of the stall, a mixture of more traditional and esoteric styles down the other. Their table is strewn with images of game development and examples of concept art. Wanting to get a broad experience at GX Australia I sat down with Ethan Strange and asked for an interview about their art.
Jamie: Please introduce yourself.
Ethan: Hi folks, my name is Ethan Strange, also known as Twisted Pixel, you’ll find me at www.Strange.Productions.
Jamie: And what do you do?
Ethan: I do art, as a quick summary. I do artwork for games, I do artwork for animation. I help people get money with my artwork . People come to me when they need to prove to somebody that they can make a great game. I create look frames and concept artwork which they then take and get funding. And I will offer them work on the game product itself.
Jamie: As for your art itself, summarise it in 13 words or less.
Ethan: My artwork turns people on and makes them uncomfortable.
Jamie: Love it. What are your primary motivations and inspirations in your art?
Ethan: A lot of the work I do plays with humanity and the relationship to people with other people. Intimacy, fears of intimacy, and especially humanity and technology.
Jamie: What’s an important lesson you’ve had to learn as an artist?
Ethan: Probably one of the most important lessons I’ve had to learn is I’ve had to learn how to make work that satisfies me and is especially satisfying to other people. It’s not enough to make work that just turns me on. I can’t just make work that I like. I have to make work that also resonates with other people if I want to make a living doing this. But it also has to resonate with me or else I won’t finish it and I’ll hate it. That’s really challenging. Finding work that will turn you on and turn other people on as well.
Jamie: If resources weren’t an issue: time, money, supplies, what would you do that you currently can’t do?
Ethan: I would do so much more cyberpunk comic book style stuff. If money and resources weren’t an issue I would just illustrate all day. Whatever I wanted, every day.
Jamie: How’s community support been for your work?
Ethan: Community support has always been quite strong as I share my work at multiple points of production. I’m very responsive to people, I find that any artist who responds to comments, answers questions, is freely open to share their work will have a community and an audience. Any artist who is quite cagey or close-lipped or not willing to share won’t have that audience. It’s a pretty straight-forward algorithm.
Jamie: And it definitely helps that you do things like time-lapses of your work, that you’re not afraid to provide tuition. You’re not hoarding knowledge.
Ethan: Not at all. I very much share it. And that’s actually the key to my success. All my work has come from people who know me, and they know me because I share my work. I’ve a lot of people who value my tutorials, the work in progress that I send through. And it’s because of that that they know what they get is something that is carefully made and high quality, and they refer me for jobs.
Jamie: How do you think the artistic and gaming communities could encourage more diversity?
Ethan: Well, GX does encourage diversity, it’s quite beautiful in that respect. Other events there can be some seniority complexes, there can be an “Oh you don’t know enough.” “What kind of newb are you?” “That was such a dumb newb question”. So when you’ve got people who will get on your case about not being perfect it’s that much more difficult if you’re also queer, or alternative. So to be more diverse I would say people can just be a little bit more gentle with people who are starting out for the first time. The community could be more forgiving, more understanding, and just be more willing to tweet and re-share and help artists get the word out.
Jamie: And how do people get hold of your work?
Ethan: So people can find me on Facebook. Ethan Twisted Pixel Strange, and they will find all of my work at www.Strange.Productions, or come to your local games festival and there’s a good chance I’ll be there.
Jamie: Thank you very much. Final question: Would you like a hug?
Ethan: I would love a hug.