Woolgathering about art direction

Recently, Ckutalik over at the Hill Cantons posted that he was putting together a book and was thinking about art direction. He posted a few very interesting samples of work he liked (Chinese wood cuts of (what I assume are) historical scenes and a lithograph from a Russian book illustrator) along with a request for suggestions.

The post was interesting to me because the art he presented is great looking AND far removed from the usual suspects as far as ‘art for rpg products’ goes. This made me wonder what RPG products might look like if one hired artists who were totally unfamiliar with the genre and its conventions to illustrate an RPG product.

I don’t see a way of putting this plan into effect (other than writing an RPG book, winning the lottery and using the lottery winnings to sucker a bunch of artists who haven’t done RPG art into illustrating it), but it makes for some interesting speculation.

Who else wants to see Henry Darger come back from the grave to illustrate a weird-ass RPG book? Perhaps a campaign guide to “The Realms of the Unreal?”

4 Comments on “Woolgathering about art direction”

  1. A weird ass RPG was written around Darger's world would be truly amazing – he's like an outsider M.A.R. Barker! Did you see the Realms of the Unreal documentary from a few years ago? It's pretty good.

  2. ckutalik says:

    Somehow I feel that a Darger rpg would lack something in the concision department (his manuscript for his obsessive life work was over 15,000 pages!).

    One thing I took away from my recent interview with the lead programmer of King of Dragon pass was the importance of raising art direction as something central to the process rather than as an afterthought.

    If you do, you start thinking harder about what you like and more importantly what you want readers to feel or think when picking it up. When I started thinking along such lines I thought I want something outside the standard fantasy rpg box, so how can we create a vision that makes that happen.

  3. I love Darger's work! That would be pretty cool to do something that really was not constrained by the conventions of the hobby. And Realms of the Unreal was very good. Hard to believe that the guy lived so long in his own secret world and the amazing level of work he generated.

  4. limpey says:

    Yeah, I was kidding about the Darger RPG. Although I think there were similarities between the way in which Darger created his world and the way I enjoy creating mine (and, I presume, the way in which others enjoy this sort of activity), I suspect the whole 'publish The Realms of Unreal as establish “Vivian Girl” as a character class' would probably horrify Darger if he knew. I suspect he didn't want to share his world; he seemed like such a recluse, perhaps he intended it for his eyes alone. And if you think people got bent out of shape over the OSR Carcosa flap — just wait till the masses see an RPG book with pictures of little girls (girls with penises) getting strangled and bayonetted by Glandelinians. The shit would then hit the fan so loud and hard that the world would take notice.
    I think what I admire about Darger's work is that it seems to be such a pure act of creation… I wish I could get lost in it like I think he did. Maybe he didn't give a shit because he never seemed to think about showing anyone else his work.
    I remember the documentary. I enjoyed all the quotes and the interviews with people who knew him, but the animated sequences seemed really strange to me. But I really enjoyed it.

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