Long have I been a fan of Pixel Art! A style of art that seems to represent our Geek Culture more than any other art form I have ever seen. In this post here I explained that I used to be fascinated with drawing top/down fictional houses and ships as a young girl (I have no idea why Ships were a thing). The very notion of being able to glance in to a made-up world that I had created. I decided on which room was placed where. I decided how much colour to add and how many people I placed in my drawings. I guess my geeky tendencies started from a very early age. Needless to say, my drawings were absolutely shocking, I had no sense of scale and I could not keep my felt tip in the lines to save my life! I guess you could say I retired from drawing at the age of four and it was time to leave it to the professionals!
Fast forward to 2016 and I had started to see some mind blowing pixel art spring up online. Pixel Art that was designed within an Isometric framework. Add in some seriously geeky contents and I was hooked. Who was responsible for such a feat? This led me to discovering Army of Trolls! A man by the name of Gary was behind such amazing creations. When I was four years old I believed my shitty drawings were these; Army of Troll creations. I reached out to Gary and instantly lunged at him with my intention to interview. Fortunately he agreed and was kind enough to let me use some of his creations in this interview. Let me add that some of Gary's client's include Disney, Honda, JC Penny, Edge and more...
#1 Gary, tell us a little bit about yourself
I am from North London, a self-taught artists, even though I did study art for about 3 months before I dropped out of college. Went on to work as a games tester for Empire Interactive, working my way into the Graphic Design department, I left that job with dreams of working on my own artwork and making games.
#2 If you were to describe your work to someone who didn't know you how would you describe it?
I get asked what I do fairly often and it is tricky to explain to someone who isn’t into games. I normally say I am an illustrator, then say remember those videogame you used to play as a kid with the blocky graphics, a bit like that. They normally comeback with something along the lines of ‘What like Sonic or Mario’ and I go ‘yeah, that’ and we both walk off non-the wiser, lol.
#3 How long have you been creating awesome Pixel Art for and what got you in to it?
When I rebooted the Edge Retro cover I worked out that the original was done in 2002 and that was my first proper job, so I guess I have been doing this sort of thing for around 15 years now. Although I did dabble in pixel art over the years.
#4 Out of all of the pieces you've created what is your favourite and why?
Normally it’s the last thing I did that I am most pleased with, recently the piece I did for the London Games Festival is one of my faves at the moment, I do have a soft spot for the Edge retro cover as it was my first proper job but it’s so old and I have improved so much that I prefer my more recent artwork. Apart from that any games I work on are normally up there with my fave things, it’s hard to beat seeing your artwork in an actual videogame.
#5 Two of my favourite pieces are the Edge Retro Games Room and PC Format Gamer Desk. How long does something like these take to create?
They take a couple of weeks to create, pretty much the longer you have the better they are going to look, but there is always the issue of deadlines whizzing over my head. With the Edge Reboot it was a personal project so I was able to spend as long as I wanted which I why it turned out so well.
#6 What or who inspires your work? I see some hints of Japanese culture with the bright and flashy elements to it
Old Snes/Megadrive games, old Amiga stuff, the sort of things I used to play when I was younger, toys, games. My office is crammed full of Lego, weird Japanese toys I picked up over the years, games and books. I have always drawn as a kid, mainly doodling weird little monsters and I guess my artwork is a way of channeling that into something productive.
#7 Would you describe yourself as a Gamer? If so what kind of games do you play?
Yeah totally, I play everything, love JRPG’s, played World of Warcraft for years, love the Zelda games anything a bit odd, really love all the old stuff Treasure did like Gunstar Heroes, Guardian Heroes on the Saturn etc. My fave game at the moment is Monster Hunter, I do love my 3DS.
#8 What is next in line for Army of Trolls?
Been working on a game for the last six months with my friends at Dakko Dakko who I did Floating Cloud God on the PSP with and Scram Kitty on the Wii U, can’t say anymore about it until it is announced.
Also have a game called Magic Mallet that I am working on with another friend, which is a retro one-screen platform game a bit like Bubble Bobble one of my fave games ever.
Will be doing loads more illustration work as well, whatever crops up!
#9 Where can readers connect with you?
On twitter @armyoftrolls or via my website www.armyoftrolls.co.uk
Thank you to Gary for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer my questions!
Gemma @ Juicy Game Reviews / TheGebs24
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