This Halloween the art-jam website PaletteSwap is having an art bonanza that’s anything but “fun-sized.” Starting at 10am EST a piece of art based on a classic horror-themed video game will go live. After that the site will be updated with a new piece of art every 45 minutes. It’s like trick or treating, but without the pesky hassle of having to go somewhere or possibly getting a razor-blade in an apple. We virtually-sat down with site founder and artist Rusty Shackles to talk about the site and the plans for this holiday and beyond.
Castlevania by Rusty Shackles
What’s the story behind PaletteSwap?
A few years ago I created and maintained the now defunct Twitter Art Jam. One of the most popular themes we had done was “DLC4″, a play on the acronym for Downloadable Content, and the explosive C-4. I invited artists to re-interpret their favorite video game cover and had an overwhelming response, second only to an MST3K themed event. After the Twitter Art Jam kinda faded due to all of the usual contributing artists gaining more regular work, it became difficult to have a monthly event. But I really loved the concept of redoing game covers, and regularly contribute to Covered and Repaneled which feature artists doing their takes on comic book covers and panels, so it seemed like a natural fit to attempt something with video game packaging.
Why the focus on video game box art?
Video game box art is in a oddball spot. It’s not the highest profile form of packaging in terms of artistic recognition, but it’s programmed into us after awhile. If you look at album or music poster artwork, that’s celebrated as an art form and recognized as such in magazines like Juxtapoz. But while someone could rattle off distinct musical artists such as Winston Smith, Neon Park, PusHead, Robert Crumb, etc, there’s not much recognition for video game package artists save for maybe Shinkiro. But, video games over took music by a wide margin years ago in terms of profit and exposure, so why not take a look back at some of these classics and show that these have artistic merit as well? Reinterpreting someone else’s work really makes you break down what does and does not work about the original, and come away with a sense of respect. Then on the other hand, there’s boxes like the original NES Mega-Man cover which in no way shape or form accurately represent the game, almost like wrapping a box of diamonds in turds. So you also have that, redoing covers for games that have since gone on to be legendary, and approaching it with reverence.
Altered Beast by Dylan Todd
What kind of response have you gotten for the Halloween Art Jam?
FANTASTIC! The majority of the time the site does not have a theme, any game, era, console, etc. is fair game. And I get a submission here or there, like once every 3 weeks. Announcing a theme though? I got 8 submissions in two weeks, so in all likelihood this experiment has determined the future of the site. So stay tuned! I’m working on what the next theme will be and make sure it’s broad enough to have enough games for everyone to draw!
What do you have planned for the future of Palette Swap?
I will make sure to risk losing followers on twitter by endlessly talking about the site and requesting submissions! Ha! No, in all seriousness I will continue to encourage artists to contribute and will be announcing the next theme here soon enough. Although I must say one of the most asked thing is “Has ____ been done yet?”. If you look on the right hand site at the tags you will see every game that has been done. Even if the game you want to do has been done, GO FOR IT. Games tend to be released on different consoles, so you have options, and besides, your version of game X will look TOTALLY different than another artist’s game X. For the future upcoming themes, the game arts will be put on the site as soon as they’re done so that should help those who are concerned about taking the same path as another artist. It’s been a learning experience, I think there’s enough material out there to do this forever, and it’s always good for me to adapt to what the contributor’s need. So I’ll keep tweaking and modifying the site as needed to make it the best site for game packaging art online!
- Zombies Ate My Neighbors by Daniel Butler
For more work by Rusty
you can check out their websites, and be sure to be checking PaletteSwap
all day for more horror video game art!
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