Impressed by the winning entry in 2K Games' BioShock Limited Edition cover art contest, we had a chat via online messenger with the winning artist Adam Meyer about his design and the process he took to get there, as well as a bit on his background.
First of all, thanks again for doing those. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Well, I'm 27 I think, I live in the Orlando area with my beautiful wife. And I own my own freelance design business called Crystal Clear Art.
How did you get involved with graphic design?
I've always been interested in art. And once I graduated high school it became clear that if I wanted to make a career out of art, it was best to get into graphic design over the more traditional stuff. I went to community college but dropped out in favor of just getting right into the field. I got my first design job doing layout work for a small little print company and basically learned what I could from it and the left. I kept repeating this pattern for about 8 years. I'd work someplace, learn everything I could, then quit and find someplace that could teach me new things.
After I worked my way up to art director at a local design company I decided it was time to get out on my own. And here I am.
How long has Crystal Clear Art been around? Who have been the big clients?
I've been in business for myself for about a year and a half. I'd have to say my biggest client is 2K Games now. *smiles* Actually I got a chance to work with a lot of really cool companies at my job before this. I've done some stuff for EA games, Chick-fil-A, YMCA, and a lot of Big Christian Bands.
What did you do for EA?
Nothing that anyone will ever see probably. I did a lot of their t-shirt designs that they used in-house. I did a pretty cool t-shirt for GoldenEye Rouge Agent that had Bond dead in the classic "down the barrel" view. [You can view this t-shirt on the Crystal Clear website by going to the Clients section and clicking on the first picture in the bottom-right "Client Logos" section. -- Ed.]
Awesome. Okay, now on to the BioShock cover art contest. How did you hear about it and why did you decide to get involved?
It all came about one night that I just couldn't sleep. It was like two in the morning and I got out of bed and went to the computer. I came across the contest on the Cult of Rapture site and figured I could either try to create something cool, or watch infomercials. I'm glad I choose the former.
I was really hesitant at first as I've entered a few movie poster contests and have never made it to the final round. It eats me up to see entries not as good make it, but thats what happens when guys in suits judge. I'm glad I got a panel of cool judges at Irrational that picked mine, Especially with a lot of other really cool entries.
How did you come up with the logo? What were you trying to convey thematically?
The first thing I did is what I do with all my jobs: research. I looked through BioShock's website trying to figure out what they were going for, then of course did some research on the art deco style used in the game. Then it was just a matter of figuring out something that (1) Could be possible to be embossed (i.e. something relatively simple) (2) Something that was marketable, and (3) Something that fit the themes of the game. Hence the art deco style combined with rusted metal, water spots, and they ever-popular rivets. I can't see rivets without thinking of underwater.
So you didn't know much about BioShock before this contest?
Oh no I did, I can't wait for this game. It looks to be one of the most original games ever made. And artistically it's just amazing. I just wanted to make sure I had a very firm hold on what they might be looking for. I can't wait to play this thing!
Were you a fan of the System Shock series?
Admittedly, I never played them. Here comes the bashing right? I only just heard about them when I began reading up on BioShock. They sound like excellent games, I might have to go back and play them before BioShock.
On to the technical side of the design. What software did you use?
I used Macromedia Freehand MX for the vector work, and Photoshop CS for the Raster side of things.
Can you describe your process? Feel free to be as detailed as you'd like, the Joystiq HQ and many of our readers are Photoshop hobbyists (e.g. the Lost Planet Photochop contest)
Sure thing. First thing I did was recreate the BioShock logo in vector format using the logo from one of the wallpapers as a template. Then after researching art deco a little bit I began to build deco inspired patterns that I would use In my "shield" design that the logo would sit on. Then it was just a matter of combining all these elements together into one cohesive logo that would work well in black and white format. Then it was time for everyone's favorite: Photoshop.
I imported a high resolution black-and-white version of the logo into Photoshop and started working my magic. Without going into too much detail. I used a combination of the official BioShock wallpaper (after some rubberstamping to remove the logo) and a picture of water spots to create the background texture.
Then I painted in the rust, scratches, etc. I applied a lighting effect to the whole thing also to direct the eye towards the logo. I try to stay away from the more cheesy Photoshop effects (i.e. the lens flare). That was about it, I used the emboss feature to show a preview of how it might look in 3-D and that was it.
My plan was to combine traditional 3D effects with the actual embossing to make a really cool combination of real and fake. Hopefully it will come out as cool as it looks in my head.
I think it did. Do you think this contest will attract potential clients?
That would be awesome if it does, especially if I can do some more video game work. I would love nothing more than to get into designing more covers, game manuals, magazine advertisements, etc. Are you listening Irrational Games? You can count on me! Of course, to draw more clients I guess I'm gonna have to throw in my shameless plug for the interview: go to Crystal Clear Art for all your design needs. I'll be relaunching the site about the time BioShock comes out as well. I would love to combine two things I'm really passionate about and make a little money in the process.
Anything else you would like to add?
Without getting too cheesy ... I'm really honored to have been chosen for this. Thanks to the kind people at Irrational for throwing such a cool contest. Also, thanks to my fellow fans for not flaming me too much. And of course props to God for giving me some talent and to my wife, family, and friends for encouraging it. And oh yeah, thanks to Joystiq for making me feel special by interviewing me!
'Twas nothing, really. So when and where is the BioShock release party?
I know as much as anybody right now. I'd imagine the weekend before the August 21st release somewhere in Boston. Whenever it is I can't wait, Hopefully I'll be able to play the game a little early and give you guys some feedback on it.
Sounds great. Thanks for your time.