The Games We Play is an ongoing feature in which we speak with some of our favorite creative minds about the games in their lives—past and present. Today we’re featuring The Art of Skinner.
The Art of Skinner
Before we get into the interview, Skinner wants to tell you a bit about himself, Art of Skinner, and how he came to be the formidable creative force he is today:
I had no idea what being a full time professional artist would hold for me when I quit my job in the middle of the economic meltdown of 2008. I knew that if I could survive through that, I’d be able to survive what it took to be an artist at anytime, so it felt like a good test to take.
Illustration, painting, expansive installations, sculptures and gallery shows around the world soon followed, as my anxiety ridden stubbornness kicked in to high gear. Commercial work for Warner Bros, Adult Swim, Vans, Apple, Quentin Tarantino, Fender guitars, and Juxtapoz built a client list to balance out the psychedelic, graphic experimentations I became known for. I use every opportunity to expand into new medias as a chance to cultivate the unknown parts of myself and to collaborate with others who are searching as well.
Thankfully my professional relationships (which are usually born out of personal friendships) led to opportunities in writing and directing music videos, live animation projections and IP commercials for Adult swim and Fender guitars. Writing scripts, acting and production naturally followed. Film making and animation has brought me into collaboration and connectivity with people that has enriched my life in ways that being an isolated painter never could. The satisfaction of working with others and getting to appreciate their gifts as we create, is infinitely more inspiring than working alone. Filmmaking and narration is an organic outcome of my search to grow the territory of my creative self.
On to the Skinner-view!
That one’s for the dads.
Hey Skinner! I imagine a good number of our readers already know who you are, but if not, would you mind introducing yourself? You do so much stuff that I’d hate to even try on my own.
I guess I’m an illustrator, painter, concept artist, writer, actor, storyteller, designer freak: album art, animation, graphics for all kinds of stuff. I’m mostly just trying to do too much, probably.
Your work seems to stitch together a lot of influences: comic books, psychedelia, and of course, Dungeons & Dragons. Can you talk a little bit about how this witch’s brew came together? Are there any specific artists in these categories that are particularly inspiring or influential?
How did you get turned on to Dungeons & Dragons and roleplaying games in general? Which ones did you play? Do you remember any specific adventures, source books, or other things that particularly struck a chord with you?
Oh man, I’d play a crappy version of D&D with my friends. We didn’t know what we were doing. I was a very lonely kid, so I only had like one friend at a time and this guy, Wally, was my pal and he’d DM. I’d spend all my money on the books. I’d find them at thrift stores and stuff. I got them because of the art and hoping I’d play one day, but it only came back into my life in actually “playing” when my mom got a boyfriend who would DM. That was cool. We’d have Little Caesars pizza and play. I loved it. But I realized that playing D&D would require me to have to make friends and I just couldn’t get into it. I spent all my time drawing these monsters and stuff.
What are some of your favorite monsters?
The troll design is so iconic. That creepy, big-ass head with black eye sockets. Just so good. I like the tarrasque design, that’s pretty fun. I like Tiamat. I saw on the Dungeons and Dragons cartoon there was a demo-dragon and I want to draw that. I like the cloaker! That rules. Mindflayer is f*****g classic. The beholder is perfect. I like the gorbel as a weak-ass beholder cousin. It’s hilarious. I love Lolth’s design. I think demogorgon is so sick. Just f*****g weird. I like the roper, that’s cool. I like those weird shape aliens from Monster Manual 2. The dodecahedron alien-looking freaks. I love classic stuff like the manticore too. I like weird-looking creatures. Umber hulk is sick!
Have you worked on any gaming supplements?
I did the design for Ekphrastic Beasts. I am mostly doing my own thing, really. I’m working on a board game and some stuff for a dungeon crawl movie! I’m drawing an insane dungeon the film will be based around.
Do you still play any games? What about board games, miniature games, or anything like that? What kind of stuff still catches your eye?
I’m kind of a boring workaholic so I don’t play too much. I wish I could, though. But I still have that lone wolf style of living that makes it hard to form groups of friends. I’m a wizard studying my wretched scrolls… ALONE IN TIME WASTING AWAAAAAAAY. But honestly, the stuff that catches my eye is like rudimentary stuff. Everything is too good now. I like stuff that’s kinda raw. Not too overly rendered. I do respect all that stuff, but I like raw, badass outsider stuff. Ral Partha, but melted haha!
What’s next for you? Got any projects you want to mention?
Heyoooo! I’m working on a stop-motion horror fantasy movie called Shrine of Abominations, a video game that’s like Golden Axe called Flesh Haunted Lords, my comic book horror anthology called Skin Crawl!, and this board game that doesn’t have a name yet but it’s gonna be siiiiick! It’ll have cool miniatures! I have a giant, insane fantasy sculpture coming from House of Gog. I’m getting ready for writing and conceptualizing Dungeon Crawl: The Movie. The guy I’m working on that with just did the movie The Spine of Night which you have GOT TO WATCH! It’s rotoscope fantasy horror stuff! I’m a busy body! I’m annoying! Weeeeeeeeee!
Thanks so much to Skinner, for taking the time to talk with us! We’re looking forward to seeing his wonderful, hallucinatory machinations show up in even more places—both in and out of the gaming world!
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Interview conducted by Rob Matthews
Rob Matthews is a writer and lifelong gamer. When he’s not rolling dice or herding words, you can find him drawing, training in the martial arts, or planning his next tattoo.