Joining us today for our Artist Spotlight is Arekay! She’s got tons of mind-blowing fanart from video games, and is herself a video game developer. Read on to see some of her artwork what she’s got to share with us!
Hello! to start off, tell us a bit about yourself and your journey to where you are today as an artist!
Hi! I started properly pursuing an artistic education when I was 13, and after graduating from secondary school in Singapore, I went to a local arts college for about a year and a half. I then transferred to the Savannah College of Art and Design in Atlanta, majoring in Sequential Art and minoring in Concept Art for Games, and graduated last year. I currently work at Immersed Games, which is an educational games studio based in Gainesville, FL.
How would you describe your own art style? What are some things that have influenced or inspired it?
What does the process you undergo to create a complete piece usually look like, and can you walk us through it?
What is your proudest artistic milestone or accomplishment so far for the year of 2016?
I helped in a small way to ship a video game (Tyto Ecology), and also helped influence and direct the art style of another video game that is currently in its very early alpha stage (Tyto Online)! I’M OFFICIALLY A GAME DEV. It still hasn’t really sunken in but man, it is a cool feeling.
You’re a big video game fan and a seasoned creator of fanart for some of the most well-known titles; what are some of your favorite games, past or present?
Definitely my all-time favourites are Tales from the Borderlands, Dishonored, and Bioshock. Also, the first game world I ever felt truly immersed in was Fable, and for that it will always have a soft spot in my heart (I’m pretty broken up about Lionhead Studios closing). I usually favour fantasy as a genre, so when I was younger I played a lot of fantasy RPGs.
If you had to pick, what are some of your favorite works of fanart you’ve done, and why?
There are going to be a bunch of gifs in this section because those always take the most effort/longest time since I’m not an animator, so I’m always going to be proudest of these. This is fanart of a webcomic called The Property of Hate, which I highly recommend. I kind of go between 2 different styles of inking – one being very dynamic thick/lines, and the other being what I used here, which has a dead line weight but more detailed look. I like both techniques!
This piece is one of my most popular ones. I’m a huge fan of Over the Garden Wall, and when I finished the series I knew I had to do something as a tribute to the show (particularly since it’s a miniseries, so it’s unlikely we will get more content from it outside of the comics series KaBoom! Studios is doing). It had such a dark fairy tale spirit, which is something that really inspires me and has influenced my work, so I wanted to make a really sad dark piece based on that because apparently I enjoy tears.
As mentioned before, I’d like to be able to capture atmosphere and mood well in my pieces, and I think I did that pretty effectively with these two. I’ve done a bunch of Dishonored pieces since I love the game so much, and these are definitely my favourites from the lot.
I’ll be the first to admit this is one of the most self-indulgent and trashy things I’ve drawn in a while, but hear me out – I don’t go full painterly a lot, plus it’s animated! I even did research on what coloured light looks like shining through skin! Just let me have this. (It’s from Tales From the Borderlands.)
Gravity Falls means a great deal to me because it’s got everything I love: supernatural elements, witty humour, endearing characters, and (my greatest weakness) the found family trope. I’ve been watching this show for four years, and I have laughed and cried my way through the series countless times – none more so than at its very recent finale about a month ago. I had to do something to commemorate how much it meant to me, and this is the best way I know how.
Why do you think the sharing and creation of fanart is important, and what are your personal motivations for doing so?
Honestly it’s the purest form of appreciation for someone else’s work, and it’s the best way to communicate with the creators of the media you enjoy. Anyone can say “your work inspires me”, but fanwork is that sentiment made tangible. I have made so many friends and even gotten into contact with the creators of things I like because of my work, and it’s done nothing but enrich my life.
How has being in the video game industry changed the way you create art? What are some things you’ve learned that you previously did not know?
I think the biggest thing is realising just how hard it is to make games. I’ve definitely developed a lot more appreciation for the time and effort it takes to make even the smallest of games, and have learnt to value the efforts of other game devs and not be another dismissive consumer. I’ve watched my coworkers putting in everything they’ve got into the product, and it’s just really encouraging and impressive to be in a team like this. It’s made me way more self-motivated, and that can only be a good thing.
I’ve learnt a lot about the pipelines and processes of game development, and enhanced my own skillset (for example, the only texturing I ever did during schooling was for one class, but to date I’ve textured nearly everything in our MMO and learnt how to create and edit normal maps). It’s astonishing to be able to see my artistic skills improve in a tangible way (which is not something I’ve experienced before) just through the sheer amount of practice I’m getting to do.
Do you have a story or experience you’d like to share?
So a while back I dragged my friend Mittie into the Tales From the Borderlands fandom where I’d previously languished alone (save for my friend Andrew, who’d actually worked on it as a cinematic artist and introduced me to it). We loved it so much we decided to send the team a care package of fanart, which included badges, charms, prints, and stickers that we had made as fan merchandise. Most of Telltale Games’s collection consists of licensed material which they do not have the right to produce merchandise of, so apparently employees find it difficult to procure merch of the games they create. Our package was incredibly well-received – everyone was tweeting at us and sending us pictures of the stuff we gave them; it was all-around a really awesome experience and we made so many friends amongst the devs and creators. Last week I got to attend the annual Game Developers Convention in San Francisco for the first time, and I actually got to meet up with so many of the wonderful TTG staff who were attending, and Andrew also took us for a studio tour of TTG. I gave out charms to many of them and received lots of hugs in return – it’s amazing and I still can’t believe this happened to me.
What’s one tip, new discovery, or piece of advice you’d like to give to anyone who’s also an artist or on their way to becoming one?
Try not to get too hung up on the details. For a really long time, and even sometimes today, my biggest problem was that I wanted everything to be perfect the minute I started working on something. It was all or nothing. Learning to care less about perfection is honestly really the key to better work – if I make mental block for myself like, “Oh God, I need everything to be completely perfect and do everything from scratch without reference or help otherwise I am a fake artist who doesn’t have real skills” it makes the process daunting, difficult, and discouraging to the point where I don’t even feel like starting (or beginning an artwork feels like a huge task I have to work up to). That in turn reduces the amount of practice I’m getting, which is what I need to improve. Someone told me that the reason why it’s so frustrating in the beginning when you’re starting out is because your skills don’t match up to your taste yet and that’s why it looks bad. You can tell that your work isn’t as good as the art you enjoy and that upsets you, but it’s in improving and practicing that you come closer to the vision you have and strive for. So it does get easier as time goes on, and it might be tough now but you need to give it time and practice (I know, I know, everyone says this, but there is a reason).
What’s one change you’d like to see in the community of artists and creators such as
Honestly, I think it’s heading in a really good direction. There’s lots more discussion about diversity representation in media by young upcoming creators, there’s a good deal of pushback against harassment in these communities, and while there’s definitely a long way to go the fact that it’s begun is encouraging in itself. I used to be a lurker in most communities, both offline and online, but seeing many other creators who are friendly and welcoming is really good motivation for me to interact with others more and learn from them.