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Dead Man Zand is a self-funded Indie game from Mountainwheel Games...

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Jason Lewis, the Art Director for Dead Man Zand is giving an interview about his beginnings, art in the gaming industry and how he ended up here at Mountainwheel Games.

Posted by Azules on Mar 19th, 2012

Here is a Mountainwheel Games insider! Our very own, Jason Lewis, the Art Director for Dead Man Zand, giving an interview about his beginnings, art in the gaming industry and how he ended up here at Mountainwheel Games.

 What were your beginnings as an artist?
I have always been an artist as long as I could remember. One of my earliest memories is a picture I drew for my parents when I was 3 years old. It was a picture of Michael Jackson on stage dancing with lights and a audience. I think my parents were in shock because it wasn't a stick figure and nobody else in my family had any artistic abilities. I don’t know why but I have always had a fascination with art and being able to translate something from a vision into 2D or in this case a 3 dimensional object.

 What pushed you to become an artist?
I don't really ever believe that someone should be pushed into becoming an artist. Art is one of those things that you either have a passion for it and you do it or you lose your skill for it. It's almost like first learning to ride a bike- you have to continue to want to get better and keeping practicing if you ever want to be able to get up. In terms of what had inspired me to want to continue art, I would definitely say old Disney cartoons are still one of my favorite works of art, and of course when it comes to gaming, I think I was in awe just like everyone else when the first Nintendo was released and I spent hours at the local store playing Super Mario Bros.!

 Where do you get your inspiration when you have to work on a specific piece?
I think I get inspired fairly easily! Generally, if I see something and an idea floats into my head, I really want to see where I can take it. Ideas can come from anywhere from a film, to a game to a cartoon. I am always trying to expand my styles and skill levels to be more versatile in a variety of mediums.

 What is your favorite style to draw in? Which style do you enjoy the most?
My favorite style to draw in is either graphite or charcoal pencil. I really enjoy heavy dark shadows with the charcoal because it adds certain intensity to an image. I enjoy basic drawing pencils because you have the flexibility of either going light or dark on an image. I have used many different mediums but those are by far my favorite.

 Do you have any famous artists that you relate or inspire to?
Oh wow that is a really difficult question! For a long time I was really into modern artists, mainly Dali. But when you look at art, it can be very subjective. I have always been a fan of Disney works because of the amount of emotion they were able to get out of such a simple drawing. I also really like some of the art from games like Gears of War, The Half Life Series among others because of the amount of detail and imagination that goes into each of the pieces. So I think whatever I think is great, I like!

 Do you ever get an artist’s block? If yes, how do you overcome it?
I don’t think you would be an artist without getting artist's block! It is certainly a terrible thing because you have so many ideas you want to express, but sometimes you just can't get them out for whatever reason. When I hit a wall, I will really try to just take a break- you know get up, walk around, get some air, and maybe eat something just to clear my mind. Typically I get artist's block when I have too many ideas at once and it's hard to find a place to begin. When you sit back down, you really want to have a clear mind and be able to focus on the tasks at hand, otherwise you will just sit there staring at your screen!

 How did you become involved with Mountainwheel Games?
I became involved with Mountainwheel last year when I was asked to model one of the characters "The Gatekeeper". I really enjoyed the ideas and the storyline for the game as well as the art which was very close to my style so naturally it was a good fit. After I completed The Gatekeeper, I was asked to create the main character Zand and have been with them ever since! Recently, I was promoted to Art Director which is excellent because I believe I can bring a nice style to the game with not only the visual appeal but also with the game play as well.

 What do you enjoy the most working with this studio? (the least?)
I think the biggest thing about Mountainwheel is the camaraderie that everyone has and the relationships you build with people. That is very important when there are many hats to wear and shoes to fill, especially when you are working on a collaborative effort. Everyone here has great ideas and artistry and certainly makes the effort a lot easier. When you have the passion for something and you can see a virtual finishing line, it makes the trip that much more worthwhile!

 Do you have any suggestions or tips for upcoming artists to pierce in the industry?
Let's see, suggestions and tips.....well as most people have heard before, follow your dreams! I left a career to get into this one and haven't looked back since. Sometimes, you have to take risks in order to get results. If it is something you can do and you know you can do it, follow it and don't give up!

Post comment Comments
PierreOfTheFrench Mar 20 2012, 12:30pm says:

Great read! Although I'm not an artist myself, I really like the art style of Dead Man Zand. Reminds me a bit of a Tim Burton movie I just realized :) I really cannot wait to try out the demo that was mentioned a while back, best of luck!

+4 votes     reply to comment
Nuwanda Mar 20 2012, 4:27pm says:

I can just agree with PierreOfTheFrench; it is a really great art style!
I'm looking forward to play another great adventure. ;-)

+5 votes     reply to comment
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Dead Man Zand
Windows, Mac, Linux
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Mountainwheel Games
Ogre Engine
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