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Meet the collectors: Jean-Maxime Marleau

interview

Meet the collectors: Jean-Maxime Marleau

Video game art collectors discuss their treasures.

Arjan Terpstra

07 Oct 2021 ⋅ 4 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: Jean-Maxime Marleau from Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Quebec, talks about how his Dark Souls collection connects him to his late wife, Saroun.

Jean-Maxime Marleau is a tinkerer, we learn when we meet over a video call. As an electro-mechanic, the Quebecker built and operated his own 3D printers before his hobby landed him a job as 'additive manufacturing specialist' with a leading 3D printing company. "I like to make things whenever there's time, pushing the limits of what can be done with 3D printing," he says. "This helps when I talk to our clients, because most things they have questions about, I have on-hand experience with."

Lifting the camera for a tour of the house, Marleau enthuses about various printed objects lying about. They range from ornate piggy-banks and a deer-shaped jewelry rack (with oversized antlers to support the jewelry) to super refined statues of Dark Souls characters, Monster Hunter weaponry (scaled, don't worry), and much, much more. "The Dark Souls statue my wife painted," he says, showing me the intricate details on a beautiful, small statue. "She was an artist who mostly worked digitally, but could also handle paints well, as you can see. Everything I can't do, she could."
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© Stéphane Larivière

Jean-Maxime Marleau posing with a home-printed Dark Souls statue, hand-painted by his wife. (Photo Stéphane Larivière)

Souls fans

The comment is one of many loving remarks Marleau makes about his late wife Saroun, who passed away in 2018, after dealing with cancer for 4,5 years. Today, almost every room in his house has something in it that reminds Marleau of her, and often it's related to Demon's Souls or Dark Souls, like the statue. "We were huge Souls fans," Marleau says. "There's something about those games you don't find in other games, the way you feel rewarded after finally beating a boss."

The mutual passion started when Saroun was laid off at work one day. "I was a big Demon Souls player, she was looking for something to do, so I said: why don't you try this game, see if you can get past the first boss! When I came back after work, the boss was killed-but without her knowing you could use R3 to lock onto targets, haha. She was incredibly resilient that way."

Dark Souls

After Saroun finished Demon's Souls, the couple started on Dark Souls together, setting up two PS4's and two screens in the basement so they could experience the single-player game together. "We'd always wait until the other came home before we would start," Marleau adds. "We didn't want to miss a thing the other did."

This practice continued all the way through Dark Souls I and II. "When we played Dark Souls III she was already sick, but we continued playing, as it felt soothing to her. Others joined in, like when her brother and teen niece came over with their gear and we spent three days trying to kill the Dancer of the Boreal Valley boss."
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© Stéphane Larivière

Jean-Maxime poses with his Dancer of the Boreal Valley art. Note the large wooden frame. (Photo Stéphane Larivière)

Bonfire

Today, a framed Dancer print proudly hangs on the landing-Saroun always used the Dancer armour after defeating her. Another wall has (Spanish artist) Nekro's Artorias the Abysswalker print, also expertly framed. "I think I spend as much money on the framing as I do on the prints," Marleau says. "It took me a while to find the right one, but now the ornamentation of the Artorias frame reflects the ornamentation seen in the image."
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© Stéphane Larivière

Marleau's Artorias the Abysswalker art print, framing detail. The gilded frame mirrors the ornaments in the image. (Photo Stéphane Larivière)



Marleau's final piece of Dark Souls art sits over the dinner table. It's a large print called Bonfire, the image FromSoftware used as cover art for the Japanese release of Dark Souls in 2011. In it, a knight rests at a bonfire, finding respite after making it through another day. To Marleau it serves as a strong analogy. "My wife and I shared so many things together, and we played through so much Dark Souls that it felt fitting to me to hang this art here. Whenever I have a bad day, I always have this place to return to."
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© Stéphane Larivière

The large Bonfire print overlooking Jean-Maxime's dinner table, plus a collection of Dark Souls statues. (Photo Stéphane Larivière)

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© Stéphane Larivière

Artorias the Abysswalker art by Nekro, overlooking the stairs. (Photo Stéphane Larivière)


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