You have mastered the art of steampunk design, which I would guess gave birth to the amazing Raygun collection. If you could create a raygun or a machine to perform any mundane task what would that task be? You can't say that it would be replying to interview questions.
Well, I find basic grooming and hygiene very boring, so I would very much like a steampunk automaton (you know the sort – brass, covered in rivets and with as many useless cogs stuck all over it as possible) to scrub, scour and shave me from top to bottom each day. Not the face obviously - that looks mint already.
Sounds like a worthwhile invention, however I am not sure that you need to shave your entire body every day! When designing your gadgets and gizmos do you consider functionality or head straight down the "what looks cool route”?
What the fudge? Is this a real design question?! I am getting mighty indignant now and am doing a fair bit of huffing, a small measure of puffing and I even did a small harrumph to cap it off. Ok, why not. Function or form eh? The age old design question. Both is the answer and the honest truth. I want designs to make sense and on the other hand, trigger all the bits of my brain that go "coooool”.
The best real world designs do this. A Supermarine Spitfire is ostensibly the same as many other WW2 fighter aircraft, but it makes me smile over the others with its combination of power, performance
and sleekly designed shapes and colours. Film or game design works best for me when it tries to do the same.
Ok, this is a little bit of a serious question too. I have a theory that pretty much every artist (particularly digital ones) were exposed to some form of media at a young age that had a lasting impact on them. Is there anything that stands out to you as being particularly influential?
That is not a little serious, that is very serious (to a nerd like me at least). What media influenced me? That's easy – video games. I grew up with them and can only barely remember life before them. I remember very clearly how astounded and elated I was when I first saw them. As a kid I used to go to this holiday camp out on the East Cape of New Zealand and one year I went there were some mechanical games in a parlour at the front. Basically a traditional looking upright arcade machine, but everything was rolling paper backdrops, back lit, with cardboard jets on wires. The joystick mechanically moved the jet and a loud clacker sounded the explosions. I loved it. The next year I came back, and they had Pong and Breakout (a few years after games had taken off in the US and Japan). It blew my mind. I knew I was witnessing the future and had a total geek breakdown and could think of nothing else for years.
I know you can't tell me anything about it, but have you done any work on The Hobbit?
Just a tiny bit. I am full-time on Dr. Grordbort's and doing my next book right now. I actually try and stay away from film work these days. I loved it, and may do it again if the right project comes along, but I feel like I've done my dash with other people's projects for now.
I can honestly say that I am one of the few lucky people that really enjoys his job. I get the impression from you that may fit into this category as well. What are your top three favorite things about being a concept artist?
Good on you, me too! We are privileged, that is for sure. The three best things about being paid to draw robots and monsters are:
- I get to watch and learn from others who approach design in ways I would never guess
- I get to interact and learn from some of the world's great storytellers
- I get paid to draw robots and monsters
Also, Styracosaur. I would be a Styracosaurus, thank you very much.
It has been nothing short of a pleasure speaking to you. Thanks for letting me ask some interesting questions, and for letting me quiz you on pivotal subjects such as loo roll, dinosaurs and woodlice.