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Meet the collectors: Sarah Todd


Meet the collectors: Sarah Todd

Video game art collectors discuss their treasures.

Arjan Terpstra

06 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: Sarah Todd from Norwalk, Connecticut talks about the added value of framing game art.

"One of the best parts of collecting," Sarah Todd confides when we meet over video, "is when you bring a video game art piece to the frame shop, and they go: what's this? Is this from a photo? Haha. I like to let them guess a bit before I answer. Somehow, they’re always surprised and amazed when I say – it’s from a video game."

This has happened several times, as she has so far framed 14 art pieces in her (much larger) collection. "I just got two back from the frame shop: Kite City, from Guild Wars 2, and Roach, from The Witcher." The latter she obtained in a recent Cook and Becker auction. "I'm still terribly excited about winning the Roach auction, as it was the first C&B art print I ever wanted to buy. I am a big Witcher fan, but also relatively new to video game art collecting. When I discovered the Cook and Becker website a couple of years back, I dug in, found the Witcher 3 prints, and fell in love with the Roach art immediately. Of course, it was long since sold out by then."
© Patrick Sikes

Sarah Todd posing in front of the Roach art print she bought at a Cook and Becker auction.

Summer job

Todd lives in Connecticut, where the Californian moved after serving in the Marine Corps. Next, she majored in English, went on to get her Master’s in Media Studies, and now works for the benefits department in a cancer hospital, where she takes care of employee communications.

"But the actual Sarah is a huge nerd," she adds with a big smile. "I guess I was into video games from a very early age, although the start was a bit off. I have a brother that is six years older than me, and although I watched him and his friends or our cousins play, I almost never got to touch his video games. So my first summer job money went directly into a PlayStation 1, and the first three games I got were FINAL FANTASY VII, Spyro the Dragon, and Tomb Raider. I never looked back."

Guild Wars

Today, her love for games shines on the walls of her house, boasting imagery from a broad range of games. The Last of Us Part II, Ghost of Tsushima, and Uncharted are all represented, as are The Witcher and the aforementioned Guild Wars 2 print. "Which is the odd one out, because I never played Guild Wars. I think it speaks to how my tastes developed over time. When I first started collecting, I only bought work from games I had played, but when I saw the Guild Wars concept art, I was floored. Sometimes you have this instinctive reaction to art, a kick to the gut feeling, even if you don't understand yet what the feeling is or why you feel that way."
© ArenaNet

The Guild Wars 2 concept art Sarah mentions is Ruan Jia's Kite City, an art piece defined by its painterly (digital) brush strokes. For more Guild Wars 2 game art, click the link!


Talking about kicks to the gut: framing, or rather the cost of framing, is 'murder', Sarah says. "That is a real bottleneck for me, what it costs to have it done right. Of course, your art will probably be with you for 20-odd years or more, but still. And yet I feel this is an essential part of collecting this kind of imagery, an appreciation of the art as art, and an appreciation of the artists responsible for these fantastic worlds. Art you embellish by giving it a frame that makes it shine even more." Which is apparent in some of the art she showcases in front of the camera: prints are expertly framed, often in frames that are hammered metal, acid-washed, or with gilded finishes in blue or silver.
© Patrick Sikes

The Witcher 3 art print Linked By Destiny. "One of my favorite framing jobs," Sarah says. "I loved this frame for the piece because the finish looked like hammered metal, which reflects not only the statuary of the subject, but also emphasizes the incredible silver paper it's printed on. I swear it makes it glow."

© Patrick Sikes

Linked by Destiny, detail.


"When I was younger, I couldn't articulate what it was that pulled me to games so much. I just appreciated their beauty and how engaging they were, and wanted to actually be there, you know, in the game world? Later you come to appreciate how powerful games are, as a medium, how they can speak to you as a person."

"As an example, I am currently re-playing Red Dead Redemption 2. As an American, the game makes me reflect on a lot of things about American history. I have no idea how the rest of the world views the mythos of the American Cowboy, or the Old West – if it holds the same kind of power of fascination as it does here. I think there are some parallels with other cultures, between the cowboy and the Japanese Ronin, for instance, or the medieval Knights Errant, so maybe that’s a broader appeal."


At the same time many of the themes the game touches can be challenging to American players, Sarah adds. "Themes like the genocide and abuses of the Native Americans are touched upon, slavery, the Civil War, and persistent racism. These things definitely still echo today. But as difficult as these topics are, I wish to engage with them, and playing video games can offer a means to do that. And I think that is simply fantastic."

She ends our interview with a request. “I wish Cook and Becker could do Red Dead Redemption 2 prints,” she laughs. “It’s such a heart-breakingly beautiful game. And maybe I could find a way to frame all these complex feelings, you know, and hang them on my wall so I can look at them every day. And next time I go to the framer’s and they ask what it is, I could invite them into the conversation, too. That would be nice.”
© Patrick Sikes

Ruins, from the The Witcher 3 fine art collection. Sarah: "This frame was a bit of a gamble, but I loved the way it turned out. The copper and purple base tones of the frame play beautifully with the color palette of the print, while the acid-wash ties thematically into the concept of 'ruins'."

© Patrick Sikes

A portfolio folder holds the art prints that await framing. Note the large Assassin's Creed: Black Flag art print on the wall behind Sarah.

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