Interview with Scott Campbell

Posted by Grey Sunday, November 11, 2012

This past Halloween, we saw the release of The Great Showdowns, a hardback coffee table art book collecting some of the most deliriously awesome takes on the greatest confrontations in film history conjured by artist Scott Campbell. The Daily Zombies takes this opportunity to interview the ever-prolific painter, artist, comic book creator, and video game production designer.


We here at The Daily Zombies are the first to confess that we are a big fan of Psychonaut, the 2005 video game created by Tim Schafer that has unfortunately became a staple example of a universally acclaimed title with extremely poor sales. To add insult to injury, the title was officially deemed as a commercial failure when it contributed to the temporal withdrawal of publisher Majesco back then. Nevertheless, Psychonaut' status of being a commercial failure does little to affect our affection for its captivating writing, quirky humor, innovative premise, and the brilliantly unique art-style. The last point is in fact what brought us to the subject on hand.



Earlier this past Halloween, Titan Books released The Great Showdowns, a hardback coffee table art book collecting some of the most deliriously awesome take on the greatest confrontations in film history conjured by artist Scott Campbell. Thanks to Tom Green from Titan Books, we had the opportunity to interview the ever-prolific painter, illustrator, comic book creator, and video game production designer.

As a personal fan of Psychonaut, I can still recall being pleasantly surprised to learn that both the illustrator behind those fantastic paintings charged with a curious concoction of child-like vibrancy and pop culture in the 2009 Home Slice show and the Art Director behind the unconventional yet utterly fascinating character design of the criminally understated Psychonaut are one and the same. With that out of the way, one can only imagine our excitement behind the release of The Great Showdowns.

And now, without further ado, we have a chat with Scott Campbell to have a closer insight at the artist and the methods to his multimedia madness.


The Daily Zombies: To kick things off for the uninformed readers, let’s start by telling us a little about you. How exactly did you get started in the graphic business? Being an illustrator whose work has been featured in numerous forms of media from video games, comic, animation, to print, we are interested in how you would describe yourself where you are now. 

Scott Campbell: I went to art school in San Francisco to study illustration, focusing mostly on comic and children's book illustration. My first job out of school was a background painter on 2D educational Star Wars games at Lucas Learning. That began my video game career. I've been working with Double Fine Productions since the beginning when I met Tim Schafer at Lucas. I've made comics with my friends and attended numerous comic festivals through the years. I began showing at galleries like 1988 and Nucleus in 2007, getting involved through friends that I met at shows. Children's books are a relatively new endeavour, but obviously something I have wanted to do forever. Throughout, my work is mostly good natured and pleasant. 


TDZ: We loved Zombie in Love, your collaboration with writer Kelly DiPucchio. Can you tell us about your involvement on the lovely children’s book and if you are interested to return to a similar project? 

Campbell: Oh, I would love to do a follow up to Zombie In Love. I had a great time working on that one. Kelly wrote a super funny story and made all kinds of little notes in the script for zombie gags. That was the most fun, coming up with all the visual gags to put in there. Nami and Sonia, my editor and art director, were super funny as well. It was a zombie gag think tank we had there. I like putting little things in the illustrations like the worms that live with Mortimer the zombie and all of the stuff he would have around his home. 



TDZ: Your portfolio is truly enormous. We are hard-pressed to answer this one but can you decide on three illustrations from your massive body of work that you are most proud of? 

Campbell: Three! Well, thank you for not asking for one. Let's see, i really like the "Concentrating On The J's" piece from the Twin Peaks exhibition. And the "Zombie Fair" for Gallery Nucleus. I like the pieces with lot's of little things going on in them because i like to imagine where i would hang out. I also enjoyed doing those cutaway houses. 

"Concentrating On The J's", inspired by the cult television series and conjured for the Twin Peaks 20th Anniversary Show back in 2011. Check out this page for an awesome making-of feature of the piece.

"Zombie Fair" for Gallery Nucleus

TDZ: What are the main influences of your work? Are there any particular artists that have had an impact on your work? 

Campbell: Everything all around me influences me all the time. Friends influence me. And films. I find a lot of inspiring images on tumblr actually. Adventure Time inspires me a whole lot at the moment. And Michael Deforge's comics. I guess much of my work through the years has been influenced by Shag, Edward Gorey, Marcel Dzama, J. Otto Seibold, and Richard Scarry. 


TDZ: We are always intrigued by artists’ connections with their muse. Do you actively seek out inspirations? Or do they just come to you in a “aha” moment? How do you get inspired and stay motivated? 

Campbell: I am constantly getting excited about my surroundings. I am an excitable dude in general.  Finding inspiration is often difficult though. I try to get myself to relax as much as possible, so I can take things in and let it flow, but I often find that getting over that creative block is incredibly difficult. And maintaining inspiration and interest in a concept is always hard. I try to find the fun times in every project if I can. 


TDZ: As mentioned earlier, you have worked on both video games and comics. Some people called video games the new “comic book,” or rather, the “comic book” for the geek of the new generation. What are your thoughts on this notion and which one do you enjoy more in the creative process? 

Campbell: Well, I can see that comparison. Video games as a medium is still in the infant stage. I see more and more amazingly creative games come out every year. Really creative ways to experience stories. The indie game community is super inspiring to me and i find it very interesting how closely intertwined it is with the indie comic and music scenes. I like seeing what everyone creates together! I enjoy making all of those things. Comics, games, and music. I don't have a favorite, i don't think. 


TDZ: The Great Showdowns chronicles some strangely good-natured confrontations between your favorite characters in film history. Now, this is very likely going to be the most-asked-question for you at this time but we felt compelled to know the origin of this crazy/cool concept and what made you decided to release them in a collection now? 

Campbell: The Great Showdowns started with 10 little paintings for a show at Gallery 1988 in LA called Crazy4Cult. They were just 10 little scenes that i enjoyed from films. I found that if I drew them all just standing there smiling at one another, they appeared to be on the same level. Seeing them as a group of showdowns was very enjoyable for me. I kept doing them for that same show each year and eventually i started the website so i could inspire myself to make them more frequently. They found a nice audience online and that has been super encouraging for me to keep making them.  I've wanted a book to collect them all for awhile now! So people can hold them in their hands. 


TDZ: Can you name us some of your personal favorite showdowns that you have conjured thus far? And are we in for some bigger, badder cinematic showdown in the future for The Great Showdowns? 

Campbell: The Showdown from Ghost is my favorite. Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze sexily gazing upon the little clay dude with the smiling face standing on the pottery wheel. I like it because it is just so silly. Silly and incredibly sexy. But I also like the Point Break one a lot. And the Die Hard one. I like the ones with the smiling objects most, I guess. 

Ghost from Scott Campbell's The Great Showdowns

Point Break from Scott Campbell's The Great Showdowns


Die Hard from Scott Campbell's The Great Showdowns

TDZ: You have successfully crossed the barriers between different mediums in your career while sticking to what you hold dear to all this while. Any word of advice for the up-and-coming artists? 

Campbell: I have struggled with mediums through the years very much so, but I have also struggled with the meaning behind what I create. I have often asked myself what the heck I wanted to say with my stuff let alone what the style should be. I guess I would say, just keep enjoying the creative process and keep exposing yourself to knew things! And don't force it. Just go with the flow, my friends. 


TDZ: Looking into the future, where do you see yourself doing three years from now? Or rather, what you hope that you will be doing by then? 

Campbell: I would say just more of what I am doing now! More children's books, maybe some moving picture projects. Live shows. Who knows! 


TDZ: Here’s a bonus question for your fans: What are some of your other upcoming projects and where can fans (like us!) see more of your work? 

Campbell: I've just recently finished illustrating a new children's book that will be coming out later next year. A book called If Dogs Run Free by Bob Dylan, the popular songwriter. I've also got a new collection of my webcomics Double Fine Action Comics coming out early next year from ONI Press. You can see more of the showdowns at GreatShowdowns.com and you can watch them get painted at Livestream.com/scottlava. Oh, and there is an Art of Brutal Legend book coming out soon, that I have a lot of concept art in! So that is most of the stuff happening.


We can't thank Scott enough for taking the time and effort in answering our questions. Once again, a special kudos to Tom Green from Titan Books for making this interview possible.

We have yet to have the opportunity to have our hands all over the much-anticipated art book yet (thanks to shipping issues) but we can assured any self-respecting fan of both cinema and art with a sense of humor will enjoy it.

The Great Showdowns is now available in all fine bookstores that sells fine art books.For those who would like to order it online, head over to Amazon.com or Titan Books.





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