Last weekend I got a chance to catch up with John Ariosa, lead artist in many of PHG's games. If there are any of you who believe that they are unfamiliar with Mr. Ariosa's work, pull out every PHG Card and Rulebook that you own and look at the art. Chances are he made that! So in my talkings with John, he agreed to a quick interview regarding his artwork, and other such things, so without further ado, here it is:
Jake: Okay John let's start of with a question that's not really question, but just tell us a little about yourself.
John: My name is John, I'm 26 and live in New York. I do storyboards and advertising comps as my day job and freelance doing illustration and concept art at night.
Jake: Sound's like you lead quite a busy life. How exactly did you get involved with Plaid Hat Games in the first place?
John: In 2009 I was an intern at Hasbro working on illustrations and ship designs for Battleship Galaxies. Craig VanNess, who was the lead designer for the game, asked me if I would be interested in doing freelance work on a game a friend of his was developing. I agreed and he put me in touch with Colby and I started freelancing for Plaid Hat Games doing characters for the Summoner Wars starter sets.
Jake: Oh wow, so you've been around practically since the beginning! Since you've been involved for so long is there a particular piece of art that you've done for Plaid Hat do you identify with?
John: I don't know if I identify with it particularly but I really like the Mice and Mystics cover art, also all of the filth, drawing gross mutants is the best.
Jake: Speaking of cover art, what role do you feel that art plays in the gaming world?
John: I think art plays a really large role in the gaming world. From a marketing perspective a game's box art is the first impression someone in a store gets of the game, further than that though the art in a game can really help to tell a deeper story that's can't be told through flavor text or gameplay alone. Personally art is what got me into gaming, I started collecting MtG cards in middle school because of the cool art. The fact that there was a game that went along with it was an added bonus but it started me down the gaming path.
Jake: I'd have to agree with you on that one completely, John. Now, this one is a three-parter. since art is so important to gaming, if you had the opportunity to change any piece of art that you've done for Plaid Hat Games, what would it be, how would you change it, and why?
John: I can't pick a specific piece of art I would change on a past project, it's easy to be overly self critical and get fixated on old work and I like to try to focus my attention on future projects. Given the chance though I would like to revisit City of Remnants. The production for the game was spread over quite a long time frame. The initial concept was a lot more in the vein of starwars or mass effect but art production for the game didn't kick into high gear until over a year after the initial sketches, this time with the cyberpunk-y gangster theme. A lot of the work was doing double duty, using it to feel out the flavor and concept of the universe with Isaac and Colby while also being the final illustrations for the game components. City of Remnants is my favourite IP I've worked on with Plaid Hat Games but I feel the art from the beginning of the project feels more reserved and generic that the things being produced towards the end once I had a really good sense of the people and the city. Instead of redoing artwork for the game I would really love to explore the universe some more at a future point whether it's through expansions or a sequel or an entirely different game.
Jake: I didn't honestly know that there was such a spread of time with CoR! So now this next questions is a little bit off topic from the previous ones, but I just couldn't resist asking, if you could choose a single special ability (applied into the real world) from Summoner Wars to have as a super power, what would it be and why?
John: (laughs)Shooting lightning, Vargath style.
Jake: Honestly, if that was a real world power, I think it'd be the most kick butt power of all the Summoner Wars abilities. So, I've kept you for a while now, so let's wrap this up. For the last quiestion, do you have any inspiring words for any readers out there who are aspiring artists?
John: Just always keep drawing, carry around a sketchbook draw things from life, the more you do the better. Don't get discouraged if you can't draw they way you want to right away, everybody has thousands of bad drawings in them they need to get out of their system before you can start getting better.
So everybody, you heard it from here first, don't get discouraged, and Mountain Vargath Lightning powers are beast! Hope you all enjoyed a look at the inner workings of Mr. John Ariosa's mind!