Monday, June 27, 2011

David Landis Gremlin Lord

Who is David Landis you"ll find out below, but you might know him from Desktop Gremlins, making paper monsters for your pleasure.

Jonathan: I really enjoy how you came up with Desktop Gremlins by having play time with your kids involving art. I feel many parents forget to spend real time with their children, interacting with them and teaching, not just watching a movie or TV together. Not that there's anything wrong with doing that. Have your children's interests inspired many Desktop Gremlins?

 David Landis: My kids and I enjoy playing DRAWING games. These are little games that I made up to help us pass the time when we are stuck somewhere with nothing to do.

One game I made up we call "kill the man" which I guess is a HORRIBLE name for it... but that's what my 10-year-old loves to call it. The rules to that game are that one player draws a little picture of a man in the middle of a sheet of paper (This player is called the PROTECTOR). He hands the sheet over to the other player (KILLER) to add some sort of THING that will kill the man. (Like a huge 1000 pound weight falling out of the sky above the man). The paper is handed back and the PROTECTOR to draw something that will save the man from death. Now keep in mind that my kids are 10, 7 and 4 -- so this is never a gruesome game -- but one of creativity. So the PROTECTOR might draw a huge trampoline above the man. Then the sheet goes back to the KILLER and he can choose to destroy the trampoline in some way... or let that one go and come up with some other danger (which cancels out the huge weight). It's really free form and silly. And the winner is chosen not so much by the fate of the little man... but the creative ways a danger or save is drawn. We usually just sit after a game and examine the sheet in front of us and DECIDE who the winner is based solely on the coolest things drawn.

Okay. I really went off on a tangent there. But I am prone to do that.

Where I was going with this was to describe that sometimes we draw monsters. Sometimes we take turns adding features. Sometimes one person might do a scribble and the other person makes it into SOMETHING. Fun stuff like that.

So we usually have lots of monster sketches laying around so the Desktop Gremlins spirit has always been in our house.
The characters themselves are always born out of a child-like wonder... but maybe not directly linked to one of my kids interest... more by the spirit of wonder they exude.

 Are you a nerd, than what type of nerd? I guess what genre of fan stuff do you like? I just read of your IGN Zelda Most Wanted Commissions, do you know the characters or is it all knew to you?

I consider myself a geek rather than a nerd (and I consider a big difference in the two.) I am all over the map with what I like. I'm a huge fan of movies. My friends and I when I was 12-18 made movies on 8mm and video tape and won lots of state and even one national award through Memorex. I still make some movies with my kids but they are purely free form and fun / silly family moments. I like to read a lot of fiction. My shelf behind me at this moment has Boneshaker, Hunger Games, The Graveyard Book, The Dome, American Gods, The Lord of the Rings, etc. I am also addicted to reading ART OF books about movies (Art of Toy Story 3, Art of Spirited Away, etc.) But then I also have to put on my manager's cap and coach my 10-year old in baseball. So again, my interests are all over the map. In terms of video games, we like the Wii -- mainly because of the ages of my kids but also because I really like the creative characters that Nintendo has invented over the years. The IGN project was born out of me crawling around the site late at night and spotting their request for artists. I'm a big Zelda fan because of my love of that genre of game.

 You've done some other Desktop Gremlins or special paper craft figures for stores and companies, which has been the most fun to create. 

Some of my non-creature papercraft have been commissions, so the client has DIRECT say in how it ends up looking. I am a graphic designer, artist and owner of my own advertising studio as my day job, so I am completely comfortable working with a client. I love bringing in my creativity to help companies and business get attention. But I also have enjoyed making some FAN ART papercraft to show my love for a particular product or franchise. Those are often born out of a VISION I have for structure that just begs to be made. As my work continues to be seen, I am in the process of developing even more styles of papercraft for a wider variety of people. Those should be coming out later this summer and some of them are quite cool!

 What's your favorite Gremlin so far?

A lot of people call the Tooyu their favorite Desktop Gremlin. I do love that design. BUT, personally I think The Canary ranks up there as my favorite at the moment. I love how he looks. (Sparky might be a close second). But it's tough to make the call, because there are other factors. Like the LEGEND of each Desktop Gremlin adds a whole new layer to the papercraft. If I consider the LEGEND as part of picking a favorite... then the Tooyu certainly rocks. It makes me smile every time I sing the song "Happy Birthday Tooyu!"

 You also do a lot of designer work, what projects are you most proud of other than Desktop Gremlins?

I am most proud of good work that helps clients get noticed. This can be anything from a great logo design to an advertisement campaign for a bank. Some of the most FUN I've had in client work is doing super-secret DVD packaging concept design for the motion picture industry. (Sort of pie in the sky packaging solutions that might never see the light of day... but fun to imagine and realize in graphic design.)

 Desktop Gremlins Volume 1 will be out in a bit, what can you tell us about it? Anything that really  stood out while making it?

I am still in the process of making the other 12 or so BRAND NEW gremlins that will only be featured in the book. It has been a LOT of fun to do, but it's hard to keep the new gremlins under wraps after I've grown so accustomed to the instant gratification of releasing them online and getting feedback right away. Page layout has not begun yet as I still have a lot of character creation to do. But it is moving along and summer will be the best time for me to really plug away at it.

 Is it hard to get picked up by a publisher or are you self-publishing?

At the moment, I plan to self-publish this project. The tools we have for promotion on the Internet are so powerful now that I feel that is the best solution for me considering my background. I have served as designer for other people on their book projects and some have self-published and some have publisher companies helping them out. So I've seen both sides of the coin. So unless I can find that perfect publisher that gets MY style and workflow -- I plan to take care of things myself. Most of all, I just want to get it DONE. I want to have it out there for all the people that have e-mailed me saying how much they love the Desktop Gremlins. Everyone's kind words and support is SO inspiring and keeps me moving and motivated.

And the gremlins themselves keep wiggling their way out of my brain... demanding to live!

Look for Desktop Gremlins Vol. 1 in the future, but I"ll be sure to tell you when it's out.