This weeks Pure Nintendo Featured Artist is the awesomely talented Sam Williams. Checkout our interview and some of her artwork below. Be sure to tell us what you think and Enjoy!
KD: Hi Sam! Can you tell our readers a little about yourself and what you do?
SW: Hey Kaelyn! Hey readers! I am a 2D video game artist and graphic designer. Right now I make art for a slot game company in Las Vegas. My favorite part of the job is the crazy variety of subjects I get to work with. In my time there so far, I’ve made games about space explorers, French bakers, and pro sports teams, to name just a few. I also like solving problems with art — that’s where the graphic design comes in. I use all sorts of tools (including color, contrast, size, shape, layout, and fonts) to make sure an image evokes a certain feeling or sends a specific message. I think it’s really cool that art can have such power.
In my free time I’m into making mobile games, illustrations, and have recently been creating costumes, costume makeup/prosthetics, and props. I really like to make stuff.
KD: Where does your inspiration come from? Do you usually think of what you’re going to draw first or do you just start doodling and come out with a masterpiece?
SW: Aww, you’re too kind! Even when I’m just doodling, I have my entire library of experience behind me. Generally, I draw from fantasy and sci fi media. I love cartoons, anime, games, books, and movies. I’m also a huge nerd and I love learning about all kinds of stuff, even now that I’m out of school. I’m often inspired by fields like biology, geology, geography, history, and myths.
SW: Since I draw from so many sources, I like to layer meaning into my work, which takes a decent amount of prep. I look up lots of visual reference to help me draw things in faithful detail. For fanart, if I’m not already familiar with a character and their source material, I’ll look them up on an appropriate wiki to get a feel for their backstory and personality. After sorting through all that info, I add details to my drawings that represent special events, people, and items in the characters’ lives.
For the Nintendo art you see here, the subject ideas came from the roster of Super Smash Bros for Wii U, but I also layered in details from their source games as well. I especially enjoy drawing characters in slice of life situations (like Link prepping for an adventure or Samus relaxing on her day off). I love making drawings seem alive and full of emotion. It’s fun to make them feel like fully-realized, complex people.
KD: What tools do you recommend or advice do you have for the novice artists out there who’re just getting started.
SW: I’m sure you’ve all heard this before, but the importance of tools pales in comparison to the importance of dedicated practice. Spending time drawing is the best and only way to improve, whether you’re just starting or have been a professional for years. Learning from other artists and pulling inspiration from existing media is a good way to give you direction and help you work on specific skills. After that it’s just practice, practice, practice. That being said, I can also tell you what tools I use and why.
SW: For drawing on paper, I use a 2mm lead holder with HB lead sticks. I personally prefer lead holders and wooden pencils to mechanical pencils because the rounder lead won’t scratch up the paper and gives better line weights and quality. For inking I use Copic Multiliner pens in sizes from 0.05mm for tiny details to the small brush for really thick lines. For shading and color I use Copic markers because they blend beautifully. Though they’re expensive, there’s a lot you can do with even a few of them.
For digital drawing, I use a Wacom Intuos 4 tablet with Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. I choose these because they’re the industry standard and knowing them makes getting jobs easier. However, I’ve been hearing a ton of good things about Paint Tool Sai, Manga Studio, and some other programs recently. If Adobe’s too expensive for you, I think it’s definitely worth trying these options instead. You can learn basic digital art skills in any program. If you’re willing to pick up new software and work hard to do it quickly, getting a job should be no problem. The same goes for tablets. If digital art is your passion, I say find any tools that work for you and dive into it! It’s icing on the cake to have nice tools, but the faster you get your hands on something that works, the faster you can start practicing and improving.
KD: Do you mainly stick to paper illustrations or do you dabble in digital art?
SW: I’ve definitely given you a deceptive sample of my art, since it’s mostly on paper. In reality, I’d say most of my work is digital. I make digital art as a career, so I automatically make a ton of it every week. I also like doing digital pieces in my free time, so that only increases the amount. Since last October when I first participated in Inktober, I’ve rediscovered a love for real media. I’ve kept it up since then because sketching on paper works perfectly for taking a break during my workday. It’s relaxing and inspiring to do something different from my workload and it gives my eyes a rest from staring at a monitor.
Overall I’d say I’ve done an equal amount of digital and traditional work. I’ll do one more often for a while, but the other always comes back. My favorite pieces usually involve a bit of both worlds too. There’s many ways to combine these mediums; you can get a ton of styles by trying a few steps in a different way.
KD: Tell the readers about your mash up art series “Super Sketch Sisters”.
SW: My boyfriend Steve and a lot of my friends are hardcore into Super Smash Bros and we often meet to play SSB Wii U. I love Smash too, and I’m a decent player (I main ZSS with a side of Pikachu and Peach) but I’m nowhere near as dedicated as them. Like with art, it takes time and practice to be a great Super Smash player, and my heart already belongs to art. When I got tired of getting my butt handed to me in Smash, I would take breaks and draw characters from the game. It was a nice way to feel involved even when I didn’t want to play. After a while, I decided I wanted to draw a series of character prints, but I knew it would take forever to make polished pictures of all 48 on the roster (and there are even more now, whoo boy!). To save time and energy, I decided to focus on making pinups of all the female Smashers instead.
I wanted my pinups to be a little different than what you usually see. I’m a feminist. I love studying gender issues, especially the portrayal of men and women in media. A lot of female characters are written as boring stereotypes or objects whose only worth is their beauty. I think the best way to get more diverse characters is to make them myself. So I was especially excited to take on a project where I could portray these ladies as lively and unique, as well as beautiful. I researched each girl’s personality, motivations, weapons, comrades, enemies, etc, and I used these things to inform their poses, accessories, and backgrounds in the prints. Sometimes I had to grab even the smallest shreds of information to work with, but I always expanded on it as much as I could. Peach, Zero Suit Samus, Zelda, and female Robin are finished. I’m happy with the series so far and I’m excited to complete the rest!
KD: Have you ever worked on any collaborations or projects with other artists?
SW: I have! In my professional career I usually work with a small team of artists. My Art Director assigns me the game asset(s) I need to work on and oversees drafts and revisions until it meets the game specs. I’ve worked with peers that do the same things I do. I’ve also worked with peers who have different skills, like animators or 3D artists. Collaborating is awesome because you can split up the workload and get a lot more done much faster. It’s not too hard to keep a consistent vision for the game if you communicate with each other. Including multiple people with different thought processes can open your project to a lot more creative opportunities too!
For personal stuff, though, I usually work alone. That way I don’t have to wait on others to make decisions and it’s nice to have total control since I’m creating purely for my own pleasure. Sometimes my coworkers and I do joint projects at work. We’re currently planning a big scene where eight artists will handle two characters each to make one giant battle. Even if we’re not working directly together, it’s fun to work on the same topic and compare ideas. You can learn a lot from other people because they have different knowledge and ways of thinking than you do.
KD: What’s your favorite Nintendo game or series, why?
SW: I gotta say my favorite Nintendo series is The Legend of Zelda. I love all the character designs and I can’t get enough of that open-world adventure feel (even though they haven’t even come out with the true open world title yet! So excited for that one). The classic triad of male hero, female hero, and villain makes for simple, classic storytelling that I enjoy time after time. The enemies are fun to fight, and the friendly NPCs are cute and sometimes hilarious. The world is beautiful, magic abounds in it, and when it comes down to it, if I could choose to live in any game world, Hyrule would be number one on my list. My favorite titles in the series so far are Windwaker and Twilight Princess. My favorite character is Bucha the Kikwi Elder.
KD: Do you have any other pieces or upcoming projects that you’d like to tell us about?
SW: SW: Super Sketch Sisters is the biggest thing I’m working on at the moment. I’m also learning how to draw in caricature style and have a few sets of caricatures planned (I’m not ready to reveal their subject matter yet, but I will be posting them as I finish them). I’ve also drafted out another set of Nintendo-themed prints for a 12-month calendar, but I’m not sure if I’ll ever get around to making it a reality. Ah well! Ideas are easy. Finding the time to execute them all is a good deal more difficult.
KD: Thanks so much for sharing your awesome artwork with us Sam! Where can our readers checkout more of your art or contact you about commissions?
SW: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk to you all, Kaelyn! It’s been a blast. With a full time job and various side projects, I don’t usually do commissions, but feel free to contact me anyway! I love meeting new people. I’d also be glad to talk more about my personal experience as a professional artist, if anyone has questions about following the same path. And on the off chance I have some extra time, it doesn’t hurt to ask about commissions.
Here’s where you can find me throughout the Internet!
- Instagram: MMFane
- Tumblr: MMFane
- DeviantArt: MMFane
- Nintendo Network: MMFane
- Twitter: M_M_Fane
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MMFaneArt
Any artist interested in having their artwork on PureNintendo.com or in PNM can contact me at Kaelyn@purenintendo.com. Submit fan art, sculptures, baked goods, comics, etc. If the theme is ‘Nintendo’ we want to see it! You could be the next Pure Nintendo featured artist! Also to see artwork from artists featured in our magazine, PNM, please head to PureNintendo.com/magazine to subscribe! Thanks for reading.