Museum-grade quality prints Worldwide shipping Largest video game art selection in the world Lifetime guarantee on prints
The Art of Freezing the Moment

interview

The Art of Freezing the Moment

Every Image a Story. Introducing artist Geirrod Van Dyke.

Arjan Terpstra

26 Oct 2020 ⋅ 5 min read

When the curators at Cook and Becker first saw Geirrod van Dyke’s Game tribute collection, they knew they were looking at something special.

His sketches in black, white and red – entries for 2019’s ‘Inktober’ daily sketch challenge, shown on his ArtStation portfolio - showed a range of well-known video game characters, like Chun-Li, Super Mario or Final Fantasy 7’s Cloud Strife.

In itself, that’s to be expected – Artstation is a good place to see fan art.

What was different, was they couldn’t tear themselves away from the images.

Van Dyke’s characters looked so vibrant and were executed with such technical prowess, it was simply too hard to close the browser tabs on them.

And these were only sketches, drawn within a single day. What was going on here?

Interpretation

A lot, it turned out. Talking to Van Dyke (who lives in the Bay Area in the US) over email, he carefully explains the reasoning behind the sketches.

“I was primarily digging into games that either had room for interpretation or for outright invention”, Van Dyke says.

“I think part of my interest was in finding eccentricities in these properties."
Super Mario (Geirrod van Dyke)
Super Mario (Geirrod van Dyke)
Super Duper Mario

"The earliest versions of Mario as an example give me the same unsettled feeling that I find in the first decade of animation, unsure footing and experimentation without the commercial veneer that emerges as the property matures.”

This is quite the leap, moving from games to the history of animation in an inked sketch, but one look at Van Dyke’s Mario sketch is enough to understand why the analogy matters.

The beloved plumber and some of his attributes are clearly there, but the style is boldly pushed where no Mario has gone before – a mix of realistic elements (shoes and pants) that clash with rash, bold, weird and almost psychedelic elements like Mario’s eyes.

Also the situation is unusual – the King of the Platform Games has lost his balance, slipping away from a couple of stepping stones. Unsure footing indeed.

Composition

Which brings us to the second striking feature of Van Dyke’s work: every image tells a story.

Look at the portrait of Ashley Riot (below), the protagonist in the Final Fantasy-related game Vagrant Story (Square, 2000).
Vagrant (Geirrod van Dyke)
Vagrant (Geirrod van Dyke)
Canonically, Ashley Riot is a ‘Riskbreaker’, a ‘calm and just soldier’.

Van Dyke could easily have gone for the sword-wielding hero pose, but chose a scene more revealing of the character instead. Riot canonically has a soft spot too, a vulnerability, which is visible in Van Dyke’s sketch.

“The personality of my protagonists is usually an outcropping of the world that they inhabit in the image.”

“If the character occupies a scene that I understand or can actively visualize, then a captured moment or event starts to crystalize on the page pretty quickly.”

Frozen moments

The approach is typical for someone with Van Dyke’s education. When working on his degree in Fine art, he specialised in both painting and printmaking.

Both rely heavily on capturing a scene in meaningful ways - 'freezing the moment' at an ideal time, as it were. "Context is really important to me, as much as I wanted to recreate the spirit in each game, I also wanted each image to feel like it might belong among some of its creative or historical antecedents.”

“I imagine the camera and the viewer being part of the scene when developing. Like in documentary filmmaking the subject might go about their business unaware, but then (remembering the camera) decide to ham it up.”

After graduation, Van Dyke has worked on various projects for the Multimedia/ Comic company Anomaly. Mostly recently as painter for the Comic series Sonata published through image comics.

“A number of aspects draw me to comics both personally and professionally."

"From an image standpoint I’m most taken by the little snippets of information that pile up and the way that the choices made in those snippets dictate the story’s tempo and mood."

"Most notably artists like Mike Mignola or Katsuhiro Otomo come to mind in this regard.”

A second reason to love comics is more practical. “The fact that a comic can be made by a small team or even a single individual is a huge bonus!”
CelosiaDetail
CelosiaDetail


The Celosia print

When Cook and Becker approached Van Dyke, talk quickly turned to commissioned art. They initially wanted to make prints of the initial Colossus image made for Inktober.

But after starting with a few minor edits to the original, Van Dyke decided to recreate the image from scratch, to more closely resemble his impression of the game.

This turned into the great Celosia print, a beautiful tribute to the Shadow of the Colossus video game.

In this image, the ‘frozen moment’ and the personality of both Wander and the colossus combine into a powerful, homogeneous scene.

“It was really important that I try and capture the antique/mythical quality of the game. I wanted this to read like a great task of Gilgamesh or Perseus, both perilous and outside of time.”

“From the outset I knew that the scene would be either of the two small Colossi, depth is certainly possible in black and white but I didn’t think I could capture the true monumentality of the Giants without color.”

“In the original drawing that I posted last year I had an initial idea for an image… but with the time concerns of a single day I felt that I missed my landing by a wide margin.”

“In the recreated image I wanted to retool things like weight distribution and bodily expression to create a direct and active relationship between the two figures.”

At Cook and Becker, we think Van Dyke may have succeeded. The new image had such power, we screen printed it for the office, adding a layer of gold paint to the illustration for a truly iconic image.

It's the game as we know and love it, frozen in a perfect moment in time.
CelosiaFull
CelosiaFull