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Thursday, November 8, 2012

A.J. Hateley Is Not A Bond Villain Interview

                                              A special piece of art made by Hateley just for the interview.

Have you considered traveling into a video game? Yes, no, possibly? A.J. Hateley has, first through a series of book covers and now through Gaming Luggage Labels representing different world from video games. Her skills have worked out so well as an artist she works for Penguin Books, which just combined with Random House becoming one of the most powerful publishing houses ever. Though this could be a plot to control the future minds of the youth, I doubt Hateley would have anything like that in mind. Below, I had the chance to interview her about her Gaming Luggage Labels and learn about this person who most definitely is not planning to take control of the world.

You can buy her goods here
Read her blog here
Check out her main site here

Starting off I have to write I just enjoy your name, it sounds like a bond villain name. It reminds me of a professor I had named Dr. Dark, who sounds like a mad doctor, but was actually a cute woman teaching geology. Is it somewhat of a pen name like J.K. Rowling?

This question is fantastic! I can visualize myself as a Bond villainess and I do perhaps have an appropriate accent, English. But I'm afraid the closest I come to that sort of mischief is whacking a fellow player into the lava in multiplayer Minecraft on the odd occasion. My name is Aimie-Jane Hateley and most choose to shorten it to A.J., myself included. Any dark connotations are unintentional. Possibly.

The Gaming Luggage Labels Series 1 designs aren't your first foray into gaming culture, you've done other projects and been featured on many art and pop culture sites. I'm a fan of your Zelda and Link, by Shigeru Miyamoto. Could you go over some of your other projects?
I have been working around the subject of video games since I was very young; my first illustrations were of Abe of Oddworld, and the cast of Final Fantasy VII. Before then I would copy the drawings of dragons and other creatures in my older sister's Dungeons and Dragons manuals. I learned to draw by pausing the screen on games and carefully copying the scenes thereon and they have been hugely influential in my career and life. With that in mind, I produce work regularly around video game culture. My current project is the 30 Days of Videogames, a series of 30 game inspired book jackets that essentially ask the question, 'what if gaming narratives were instead books?' I think that some game narratives are equal to the masterpieces of classic literature and ought to be recognised as such.

What made you want to do the Gaming Luggage Labels? It seems you debuted them as part of a gaming event in England, GameCity 7,  I don't think that was the sole reason.
Vintage luggage labels are fascinating artifacts; tokens of a journey very publicly displayed. The project had been in the works since the luggage-label inspired Dead Rising book jacket from 30 Days of Videogames. The Black Mesa label itself has featured as an Easter egg of sorts on many of the jackets, including being attached to ED-E on the Fallout New Vegas jacket. I was asked by Lee of GameCity to produce the decorations for an arcade cabinet at the festival and the labels seemed like an excellent solution. I like the idea of cataloging this incredible, meandering journey through worlds that gamers embark on.

Gaming Luggage Labels Series 1 must have taken some time, how long did it take you just to come up with all of them? Secondly, this might be a big one, how did you choose the games to represent? Have you played them all?
Each of the locations chosen is memorable and possesses some feature that fastens it to the mind; some, like the Raccoon City label, use a colour to communicate. Others, such as the Rapture label, harken to the appropriate time period using typography. Stylistically the labels are influenced by vintage luggage and airline labels of the 1920's - 50's. Those designs are enduring. The choice between gaming destinations was hard, I have many more I want to feature. I have played all of the games, but I speculate that I have spent the most play time on Final Fantasy VII or more recently, New Vegas.

What has been the response of your work so far? As I write this, the labels have only been out since Oct. 14th and been available as stickers since the 22nd.
The response has been very positive and I absolutely cannot wait to see what and how people decorate their belongings or spaces with the labels. I'm interested to see any projects. It's a tremendous honour.

Are the labels in way sort of telling you want to travel the world? You're always welcome here in LA.
Thank you! America is a beautiful country and I have visited Chicago and the Great Lakes but L.A. is a dream. I want to travel more, and when I do, you can bet it will be with my gaming suitcase!

It's titled Series 1, so I hope there's more down the road. Do you have some planned or are you playing with ideas on how to represent certain worlds?
There are many, many other destinations I would like to represent, not least Shadow Moses Island, Zebes, Dunwell, Rupture Farms, Reach, Pandora… They will certainly form part of series 2, which should be out in December.

While making them were you playing any of the games? What is your process for creating, both in the tools you use like computer program and do you say listen to music or have to have silence when creating?
I spent many hours between working on Minecraft, Proteus and Slender.  As for my process whilst working, I am primarily a digital artist and I work prolifically in Photoshop. Whilst working, I have a tendency to listen to the fantastic, free Yale Courses lectures hosted on Youtube which proved a crucial tool in constructing the theoretical portion of my Masters degree. I listen to them habitually (though I'm certain not much sinks in!)

Are you playing games right now? I find many artists don't have the time and may only play certain titles when they have free time.
Yes! Always. Games are never a waste of time for an artist. You are witnessing and interacting with the work of some of the best and most innovative artists in the world. Recently I have been playing Dishonored - the art is breathtaking and every object in every room can be appreciated as having been concepted, rendered, textured, in harmony with an overarching aesthetic. But I am hopelessly addicted to Tekkit, an encompassing Minecraft mod pack.

Is there anything you'd like to design, but haven't had the time?
An unbelievable amount. Sometimes I have to wait for my learning and technical abilities to catch up with my ambitions. I love suggestions and usually act upon them.

Grab the Gaming Luggage Labels as stickers here