1. How did it work out for you to collaborate with ATLUS on this project? What did you create specifically?
I got my foot in the door rather unwittingly last year while taking commissions, one of which was of the iconic female Alchemist from the first two games. As with most of my private commissions, I just assumed the client was a big fan of the series and thought nothing of it, but when I got another e-mail from him a few months later inviting me to do a promotional piece for EOIV, I found out he was actually the project manager for ATLUS USA. Hah!
As for the project itself, the premise was to show a party of characters on their skyship, which existing game art didn't show in spite of this being a new feature. Aside from that basic concept, I was given full creative liberty with the characters and setting, which is a freelance illustrator's dream. I tried to create a composition I felt captured the energy and excitement of embarking on a new adventure with recognizable elements from the game, so I set it in the Scarlet Pillars zone with the Yggdrasil looming in the distance. The party is made up of the classes and variants I'll be using for my own first run-through.
2. What was it about the Etrian Odyssey series that you found inspiring to create the piece you
The games are really good about conveying the scale of a world that is really larger than life, and that's saying something about a series exclusive to handhelds. I think the most successful games make you feel small, like the adventure is so much bigger than you. The art direction is also really fantastic. Such great environments and color palettes.
3. How would you describe your art style?
Brightly colored, expressive fantasy art with both eastern and western stylistic influences. I've been departing from my anime fan roots a bit more in recent years, but the inspiration still shows, I think, especially in a piece like this for which that is the origin of the source material.
4. We see in your bio that you’re a gamer. What are your favorite games?
At the risk of sounding like a suck-up, the Etrian Odyssey series is definitely at the top of my list as far as newer games go. My favorite games have always been role playing adventures, whether on a console or a tabletop, so I played a lot of dungeon crawlers and whatever JRPG I could get my paws on when I was younger. EO has the best of both worlds.
Xenogears is probably my all-time favorite, though, disappointing second disc and all. Dungeon Hack, a tile based AD&D DOS crawler from 1995, has a special place in my heart, as do Mega Man X and X4 (15-year-old Lexxy was all about the anime cutscenes, man). Skyrim and Minecraft scratch my sandbox world itch, and X-Com: Enemy Unknown has been a very enjoyable first foray into the tactical genre. I like MMOs too, but I don't have a lot of free time, so I tend to stick with solo play oriented games I can pick up and put down with relative ease.
5. Do you have any favorite subjects or specific gaming projects you’ve worked on?
Fantasy gals will always be my favorite subject to draw. I finished a few pieces for a card game not too long ago that was totally in that wheelhouse, but it's still under NDA right now so I can't talk about it yet. Suffice to say, it hit all the right buttons.
6. What would your dream gaming project be?
In the past, my "dream projects" have always revolved around doing work for particular companies. I didn't really care what I might have worked on, I just really wanted the prestige of having those names on my client list. Now that I'm older, I recognize that these are fine aspirations, but not especially good dreams.
Having finally had the chance to delve very deeply into a personal project (The Cloud Factory) and spend significant time shaping the visual look of the world, I'm really warming to the idea of doing the same for a game. Ultimately, a gamification of the world and story I'm creating. I think that dream is a long ways off yet, but given the success of indie games and the rise of webcomics as a respected and widely consumed product, I think it's an attainable one!