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Meet the collectors: David Gutnik

interview

Meet the collectors: David Gutnik

Video game art collectors discuss their treasures.

Arjan Terpstra

15 Sep 2021 ⋅ 5 min read

In this series of interviews, collectors talk about their love for video game and pop culture art, their personal preferences and the way they display their items. This week: David Gutnik from Schwerin, Germany, talks about his love of building intricate displays. "I like it when a collection of objects implies a story."

Any idea of game art collectors being of a different age than the median gamer is immediately out the window when I talk to David Gutnik. This lively collector is 22 years young, and lives with his parents in the city of Schwerin, in the northeast of Germany. By necessity, he adds coyly, as his move to a student apartment last year was uprooted by the Covid-19 pandemic. "After high school I worked for three years, before enrolling in a journalism course. Unfortunately my course fell through because the school wasn't prepared for online classes. I am currently looking at a course in game design, but until that materialises, I won't move house."
DGinterview
© David Gutnik

David Gutnik surrounded by statues and game art books.

And so we meet David--virtually--in a large collection room that he rents from his parents. As he pans the camera, we see a room chock full of game and movie memorabilia, dominated by a large display case that holds dozens of high-end statues and replica props. Everything is meticulously displayed, well-lit and often arranged in pleasant-looking ensembles that combine various objects from one game or movie.

Displays

"I think my favorite part of collecting is making these intricate displays, and to dress them a little," Gutnik says. "When I look at statues, I don't see static art pieces but little stories coming to life, and the same goes for the objects I display with them." He points the camera at a new Hobbit display he's currently developing. "I recently ordered a large Bilbo statue, that's due to arrive any moment."
Starwarsensamble
© David Gutnik

An assembly of Star Wars replicas await a new clone wars.

He shows a couch in a corner where a replica of Bilbo's long clay pipe sits in its box. "Apart from buying statues and official replicas I like scouring yard sales and handiwork shops for objects that fit the story or theme for me. For the Hobbit display I bought replicas like that pipe, Bilbo's red journal, the burglar contract, and ordered some coins from Smaug's stash, and of course the One Ring. Apart from that I found a fake sunflower, and I hope to find a good inkpot with a feather pen, plus whatever else I feel will fit, to round it off."

Legos

For such a young collector, how did he start? "Why, by collecting legos of course! I was really into Lego Bionicles, as I liked how you could display movement in the builds. Later I found my first high-end statue, a Darth Malgus from Gentle Giant. I thought: wow, this is really next level compared to action figures, and this set me on the unholy path, haha."
Kenobi
© David Gutnik

Among David's most prized posessions is this super detailed Ben Kenobi Mythos Polystone statue.

A couple of years on, and this path has led David to an impressive collection, from a wide range of game and movie titles. There's a couple of Star Wars ensembles (including an array of replica lightsabers), a corner dedicated to Assassin's Creed: Black Flag, and a wall devoted to Planescape Torment that he commissioned art for, again in preparation for a display with a commissioned statue at the heart of it.

Do-it-yourself

Another wall is dominated by a large black display case that holds the bulk of his statues. It looks incredible, combining one huge display at the top with six smaller display cubes at the bottom. Where did he buy it? "I was looking into ModuCases but realized a setup to cover my collection would cost a not-so-small fortune. So in the end, together with my dad and a friend we decided to build this ourselves. This was very much the cheaper option (over buying fixed cases), although the large PVC windows were pretty expensive."
Maindisplay
© David Gutnik

David's main, custom built display.

Gutnik also had trouble sourcing the window panes, as they planned to build the display case at the start of the Covid pandemic. "Suddenly all the suppliers sold out their large size PVC sheets, as everyone was building protective screens everywhere. We had to wait for quite a bit to get our orders in."
Batmandisplay
© David Gutnik

Statues of Batman, Poison Ivy, and a Ninja warrior battle for attention.

Witcher Wall

Perhaps most prominent among the various themed displays is David's 'Witcher wall', that combines both statues and art prints of The Witcher games, but also features a Gwent card deck, a leather pouch, small dice, two earthenware jugs and the Cook and Becker Witcher notebooks, all neatly displayed on a white fur rug. It is Gutnik's largest themed display to date. "I have always loved playing RPGs, mostly Western titles like Baldur's Gate, Gothic, Disco Elysium or my all-time favorite, Planescape Torment. The Witcher is among them too, which perhaps translates to a more dedicated focus in this room."

David's background may have something to do with his love for that particular game. His parents are Ukrainian, raising David on the Slavic folklore stories that form the backbone of the Witcher books and games. "This makes The Witcher distinctly different from something like The Lord of the Rings, which is more of a mix of backgrounds and ideas. The Witcher is based on the tales of Eastern Europe, and thus hits closer to home with me I guess."
Witcherwall
© David Gutnik

The 'Witcher Wall', combining Witcher art prints with notebooks, statues, and other collectibles.


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