Interview: Rex Crowle
Die Illustrationen und Animationen von Rex Crowle werden den allermeisten durch seine Designarbeit am PlayStation3-Blockbuster LittleBigPlanet bekannt sein — Sackboy ist in kürzester Zeit in die Riege der allgemein bekannten Pop-Ikonen aufgestiegen.
Doch auch sonst ist Crowle ein vielbeschäftigter Mann mit Referenzen von MTV über Ben-q bis hin zur BBC. Er hat mit seinen Arbeiten eine eigene, wiederkennbare Bildsprache voller Humor und Witz entwickelt, die dennoch auf viele verschiedene Medien applizierbar ist.
Diskursdisko: Hi Rex. To start things off, what’s your background? When did you start doing illustrations and animation?
Rex Crowle: I grew up in on a farm in the middle of nowhere, and without modern distractions like tv or the internet, so drawing was what kept me happy and busy as a child! From there I went to art college, and then worked for a couple of design and videogame companies as a graphic designer. Since then I set up on my own and have been moving more into illustration, animation, and designing for newer technologies online and in videogames.
Diskursdisko: How do you mainly produce your artwork? Do you have a system or method that you adhere to?
Rex Crowle: It depends what kind of project it is — but generally I’ll produce some work in my sketchbook as I think about the project, which is more like visual brainstroming until I feel like I’ll burst with ideas. Then I start work on creating artwork in Photoshop or Illustrator.
If the work is animated then I’ll take the artwork I’ve produced into After Effects or Flash and get busy with the keyframing!
Diskursdisko: What inspires you?
Rex Crowle: I get inspired by many things — almost too many these days! Thanks to the web it’s so easy to see inspiring pieces of design, illustration, architecture and there is so much of it out there. But my main influences are probably from older artists like Ronald Searle, Mary Blair, Mariscal and Richard Scarey.
Diskursdisko: Can you tell us a bit about your work on PlayStation3 game LittleBigPlanet? How did you become involved with the project?
Rex Crowle: The founders of the company that made LittleBigPlanet, Media Molecule, were all friends of mine when we worked together at Lionhead Studios (makers of Fable and Black&White).
We all left at the same time to do new things, so we’ve worked together from the beginning on LittleBigPlanet.
I was able to help them with getting the game greenlit by Sony, creating the identity for the company and the game, and be in charge of what I like to call it’s “visual playfulness” which included designing the in-game artwork, graphic design and directing the intro.
Diskursdisko: When working for clients, how do you keep up the balance between clients’ wishes and concepts and your own need to produce art? Do you feel there actually is any difference between “commercial” artwork and other art?
Rex Crowle: That’s an interesting question — I think that I’m in the lucky position that my style of working has become well-known enough that I am usually given a lot freedom to work with my own concepts. Plus, with many jobs, particularly when directing animation, you have to pitch your idea, so if they like it you make it, and if they don’t, you don’t!
I think the barriers between commercial art and personal art are changing all the time, for commercial projects to work they often have to be more personal and unusual to gain attention, so a lot of the most interesting work comes from this sector now, as it will bring a reasonable budget to projects that wouldn’t exist otherwise.
Diskursdisko: You’ve obviously got the website at rexbox.co.uk , any other presences on the web you’d like to publicize? Social networking?
Diskursdisko: As you use the internet to showcase your art, are there any other websites you feel have influenced you, opened your mind or shown you new ways of creating art?
Rex Crowle: Back in the early days of flash I was really influenced by a lot of the output of Hi-Res! As they were doing really interesting things in a browser, creating narratives and atmospheres — which was especially interesting as they were using this for promo sites. Rather than a collections of Jpegs and a trailer, they were making experiences that expanded the product. For instance their site for Requiem For A Dream was as compelling as the film it promoted.
These days, I’m most into modularity of the web, sharing content over many areas, Vimeo, Flickr, social networking, and the mashed-up communities that exist around them.
So in many ways its less about the website and more about the content and the fans and consumers.
Diskursdisko: Of all the work you’ve created, or at least the ones showcased on your website, can you name a couple that you have a special love for or connection to?
Rex Crowle: Well, I always struggle to be truely happy with anything I create, as it’s hard to distance yourself from projects you’ve been working on, and look at them objectively.
But LittleBigPlanet is always going to be something I think I’ll feel proud of — mainly because it was such a great collaboration with everyone in the (tiny) team that developed it and the world-beating talent they all possess.
Diskursdisko: Do you have any specific plans for the future direction of your artwork?
Rex Crowle: I want to carry on looking at new ways to develop characters and stories across all media, and also come up with ways that participation of the audience as a key element.
It’s heartwarming to see all the handmade knitted sackboys on Flickr that fans have created, and fun writing Tweets by my Grip Wrench character, so I’m really keen on expanding these areas of communication media hopping.
Plus I want to be able to afford to finally buy a big house and doodle over every surface in it!
Diskursdisko: Rex, many thanks for the interview – is there anything you’d like to add?
Rex Crowle: Um, can’t think so apart from saying thanks for asking!
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