We love to say something smart about games being art. But who are we? Better let the artist him (or her)self do the talking. Every week a game artist gets his (or her, obviously) moment in the limelight. He (or.. well you get it) agrees to create an exclusive piece of artwork and tell something about himself. What inspires him, what tools does he use, how did he get his big break in the industry, what’s his favorite color and so on. This week we talk to Lars Van Schagen, freelance game artist.

Artist of the Week

How did you get into (game) art?

Lars: “By accident really. I was looking for a job making art and I found Spil Games. I worked there three and a half years until I decided to leave because I wanted to do more animation.”

Tell us something about the exclusive Control illustration you made, why this image?

“It’s about me and my associations with the games industry. After some deliberation I thought I would draw a picture of my experiences at Spil Games.”

Interview continues below the gallery.

What did you like about your work at Spil Games?

“The pressure to create something wonderful. You had to do everything in two months: animation, everything! Some of the projects would amaze me afterwards. Just looking at what I could do within those strict time limits.”

Did you do everything?

“No I only did the artwork, graphic design and the animations. The programming and the game design was done by a game designer and a programmer. But I would get a brief from the game designer. I would make a list of the time I would spend on it. Then we would look if i could do it in that time span and the if necessary throw out some of the stuff we couldn’t do and then I would hammer all the work down in those weeks.”

What are your favorite games you worked on?

Forest Adventures and Caveman Climb

Why those two?

“Forest Adventures is just a game that works emotionally, you just feel the characters! I would sit there laughing out loud when I made the animations. I had so much fun making it. It’s also one of the games kids play through and through. The world is so entrancing that they just keep on playing the game. That’s what I want kids to feel.”

And Caveman Climb?

“Because it had a tight briefing. I had say one month and two weeks for it. I seldom in my life have taken so many creative turns to get where I should go. I made two full character animations only one survived. I had to make two dinosaurs into four dinosaurs in one day. We wanted fully animated characters. etcetera, etcetera. The list was long but we hammered our way through the list. And I have to hand it to Koen Bekkering for leading the team. I mean the way he works with people is amazing. The way he trusts you to do your best is stunning! I was energized everyday and exhausted at the end of the day! I gave my all!”

So you’ve gone freelance now?

“Yes I have. I’ve only recently started doing acquisition. So I don’t have a lot to say about that.”

Are you a workaholic?

“Not really I need to reload or re-spawn after those things. Usually by reading philosophy books, take walks, watch movies and do the occasional yoga.”

Any tips or things you think people should read or see?

“I was really moved by the film Shame by English director Steve McQueen. And I’ve exhaustively re-read ‘Damn Good Advice’ by American advertising guru George Lois. A book any creative should read by the way.”

What do you hope to achieve in a few years from now.

“What do you mean by ‘achieve’?”

Well, where would you like to work.

“Pfft heavy question… I’d like to work for animation companies…”

Really? So what companies or people inspire you

“That list is pretty long.”

Name ten and it does not have to be game related.

Onesize, Mijn Naam is Haas, Punga, Studio Soi, Johnny Hardstaff, Hoxton Redsox, Leo de Wijs, George Lois, Brad Bird, Pleix.”

It’s time to wrap it up. Any last words?

“There is this wonderful quote by Johnny Hardstaff a video clip director I really love! His quote is pretty to the point about being creative. You can find it on his website www.johnnyhardstaff.com it says:

“You were forged amidst the hot fire of your parents torrid sex. At the very height of their sweat soaked animal union, were they subconsciously hoping to create a mediocre child who dreams of maintaining the status quo? No. Repay their erotic endeavours with some creative passion of your own. Reject ‘normal’ and urinate on ‘conventional’. Dream hard and set the world on fire! (just not literally).”

Profile Lars Van Schagen

>>Want to have your art featured on Control Magazine? E-mail Kitty Calis at kitty@controlmagazine.net<<