Artist Interview: Jason Flack on Being a Video Game Designer

Jason Flack loves drawings monsters. The 27-year-old artist lives in Raleigh, North Carolina and works as a video game designer (a great job for him, since video game art and monsters seem to go hand in hand). Flack is also the creator of NeonMob's latest series, Failed Science Experiments, where you'll see further proof of his penchant for monsters and his silly sense of humor. I reached out to him via email to ask him some questions about what it's like to be a video game artist/designer. 

You're a 2d Artist/Designer at Imagni Studios, the company that brought the world Temple Run. Did you create the art for Temple Run? What games have you worked on there? How did you get into that field? 

I came to Imangi studios well after most of the original art had been created for Temple Run so a lot of the artwork that you see in the game now is not my work. I am, however, working on re-doing a large portion of the ingame 2D artwork, so I'll get to leave my mark on the game soon enough. 

Aside from Temple Run, I've also done concept work for several prototype projects that I cannot talk about just yet :)

I actually worked as an art director in the marketing industry for several years before making the leap to video games. I'd always wanted to be a full-time illustrator in the games industry, but building up the necessary portfolio and connections can take awhile, so it was nice to have a creative job to work at in the meantime.

Do you ever feel like it's difficult when you combine the thing you like doing for fun with what you do to make a living? Do you ever get tired of being a professional artist? 

It can certainly be difficult at times, especially when there are tight deadlines and stressful projects at work. I've certainly noticed that I do not draw at home as much anymore (since I now spend most of my day doing that in the office). I think the important thing – even if you're working full time as an artist – is to still have your own personal projects to work on and give your brain a break from work.

Your work is mostly character based. What about character design do you enjoy most? 

Character design – for me – is mostly about storytelling through visual cues and design decisions on the character itself. I love inventing a story for my characters and then trying to tell that story through the way the character looks, what they wear, etc.

You're part of an art collective called Jeb Kennedy. Who are the other artists in the collective and how did you meet each other? Why did you decide to start this collective? And I know that you took the letters "J" and "K" from all your initials, but where did the name "Jeb Kennedy" come from? Sounds like some politician's son...

The artist group know as Jeb Kennedy consists of myself and three other incredibly talented illustrators: John SpriggsKyle Blair, and Kyle Armstrong . The name is, as you mentioned, based on the fact that all of our names either start with a "J" or a "K," and from that point we basically just invented the name "Jeb Kennedy" and created a loony, wild west character based off of that name. For awhile we even toyed around with the idea of creating a comic based on Jeb's adventures and got so far as writing a script and designing other characters and villains.

Do you mostly work in digital or do you also do some hand drawing? What's your process?

My process is a blend of physical and digital. Typically i will sketch out an idea with pen/pencil and, after refining it a little bit, move it to my PC and paint it in Photoshop. I definitely think I rely too much on computer programs and technology these days and would like to practice more traditional methods soon.

Lord of the Hunt-sketches.jpg

What are you most excited about – professional, personal, or whatever – right now? 

Well it's E3 this week so I'm very excited to see all the new gaming announcements that come out of the conference. I'm a huge supporter of indie games- but there's something about an over-the-top AAA celebration that still gets me pumped. It's going to be an exciting week!