It’s been a couple of weeks since we interviewed Sea of Thieves superfan Dayanara, which means the time has come for a brand new Community Spotlight! This week we’ll be talking to Jackie of Jackie’s Gaming Art, who you may know as one of our Play It First Contest winners and one of the stars of our E3 Sea of Thieves Gameplay Trailer. If you want to find out more about what kick-started Jackie’s passion for videogames and how this art aficionado has honed her craft over the years, pull up a pew and get comfy…

The face behind Jackie's Gaming Art.

Tell us a little bit about what got you into gaming.
When I was younger, my dad introduced me to games like Super Mario, Pac-Man and Donkey Kong Country. For the most part, I would just sit and watch him play, but every now and then he would pass the controller to me. DK Country was one of my favourite games and as I got older I would watch him play more complicated games (or games I was scared to play on my own) like Resident Evil. But the one game that got me hooked was an old indie title released by Whoopee Camp in 1999, Tomba 2: The Evil Swine Return. I had never played the first one, but the second the intro came on I knew I liked it already. My older sister and I were very excited to dive in, and we were in awe of the beautiful, vibrant visuals, and the upbeat starting music. It was one of the hardest games we’d played (at the time) but we would sit for hours on end playing it. I can honestly say, that game is what got me so hooked on gaming like I am today!

What’s your favourite Rare game and why?
While I really enjoy Rare’s Donkey Kong games (for nostalgic reasons), I would have to say my favourite Rare game is Kameo: Elements of Power! When we got our very first Xbox 360, the first game I played on it was Kameo. I guess I am a sucker for great start-up screens; because the moment I heard the strings start to build as the Rare logo was revealed and you could see each Elemental Warrior appear alongside Kameo, I got very excited! Every kid at one point or another dreams of being able to become one of their favourite mythical creatures, whether it’s a fierce dragon or a menacing sea creature. Combine that with Kameo’s stunning visuals and beautiful soundtrack, and it quickly became my favourite Rare game to date!

A veritable shrine to videogames if we ever saw one.

What games are you playing currently? Any favourites?
Right now I am playing Uncharted 4 and Elder Scrolls Online. I’ve already beaten Uncharted 4 and I have to say, it was a very well-made game and easily one of my favourites! I found myself engrossed by the story from the get-go, and it kept me interested the whole way through. I’ve always enjoyed anything pirate-related so the fact that this game is focused on hunting down Captain Henry Avery’s lost treasure to pay off Sam’s debt made it all the more interesting.

The Elder Scrolls series has always been a favourite of mine! Anyone that knows me, knows I love medieval/fantasy worlds (especially dragons!) Skyrim was probably my favourite in the series mainly because of its focus on dragons! Since E3 this year, I have been excited for the Skyrim remaster but until then I have been playing Elder Scrolls Online to get my fill. It’s not one of my favourite Elder Scrolls games, but it’s nice to play along with friends every now and then!

We know that Jackie’s Gaming Art is a big part of your life right now, can you tell us more about it?
Jackie’s Gaming Art was something I started up almost three years ago, not long after I graduated high school. I love the gaming industry and everything it has to offer. And I often found myself thinking of all the amazing art that goes into making the games we love, and how much I wanted to be a part of that. I had a cheap Wacom drawing tablet at my disposal, so an old art friend taught me the basics of getting into digital art. From there I practised very simple designs, often drawings of well-known video game characters, to help get me going. I’d post each one I did on social media, and always got great feedback. Art and gaming are my two greatest passions, so I combined the two as a way to both improve my skills in the area that I want, as well as to see if my work was something I could earn money from some day. Since then I have been taking on commissions from other game enthusiasts asking for a variety of work from a tattoo design of their favourite character, or a print of their significant other as a game character with their favourite Pokémon!

Jackie's take on The Mystic from Kameo, one of Rare's first Xbox 360 titles.

I like experimenting with other media every now and then. I have also dabbled with clay sculpting, and custom painted game consoles! I started doing the custom consoles on my own when I experimented on an old Game Boy of mine, everyone loved it! Social media plays a huge role in the work I do as well. My YouTube channel is used for posting speed process videos of my personal work, commissions or console work. It’s one thing to see a finished photo of an artist’s work, but it’s another thing to be able to watch their work in process!

So Jackie’s Gaming Art is a way for me to share my love and passion for art and gaming with people around me. Because of it, I have had other artists, or aspiring artists get in contact with me to thank me for inspiring them to get into art, or just to thank me in general for sharing my work. That’s what makes me happy, knowing that people enjoy or can get something out of my work. Makes it that much more worthwhile and lets me know I am moving in the right direction.

When creating a new piece of gaming art, what process do you usually go through?
I often get requests for things to be done in a certain style, but when I get a commission with a little more artistic freedom, I like to push myself and use it as an opportunity to show what I can do. If it is a personal piece I am working on myself, I try to find a style I like or something in particular I may need to focus on more, and implement it to expand my skills. When I am going about a piece, because a lot of what I do is fan art, I like to reference screenshots or official art to make sure the drawing will be as accurate as possible. I start out sketching a pose for the character, and once I find a pose I am content with I keep building it up until I reach a more defined sketch of what I want, then I do the line work and colouring! I’ve been working to implement the character’s attitude into the piece more as well. Whether they are known for being a troublemaker, or a sweet and caring character, I try to use those elements to my advantage and to help bring the piece to life.

What’s the most difficult piece of art that you’ve worked on?
I would have to say the most difficult one for me was actually my entry piece for Rare’s “Play it First” contest earlier this year! I knew going into it that I really wanted to push myself to create something I am not used to doing and I wanted to wow people more than usual. For that piece, I wanted to illustrate my vision of what it would be like to be in the middle of an epic battle with a Kraken! Waves crashing, rain pouring, thunder beating, all things that came to mind when I was making this piece. I also had to experiment with Kraken designs! Again, this was something that was taking me out of my comfort zone, but I had so much fun creating it. Looking back on it now, I know there are particular things with the ship and Kraken that I can improve, but I am still content with how I pulled it off at the time. Perhaps in the future, I will remake my entry piece and make it even better!

A closer look at the...ahem...kraken piece of artwork that Jackie put together for our contest.

If you had to choose a pirate name, what would it be?
Captain Jackie Sparrow obviously! The Pirates of the Caribbean movies are some of my favourites!

What kind of hobbies do you enjoy outside of gaming and illustration?
If I am not gaming or doing art, I really enjoy playing music! I’ve been playing the violin for 15 years. Back in grade ten I got to travel to New York for a music festival and again to Europe in grade 12. My parents got me a beautiful electric violin for a graduation present, and I love playing videogame music on it! I also play some piano and I either teach myself a song by ear or watch YouTube tutorials. A year ago I picked up my first ocarina as well, and now own three! Another thing I enjoy doing aside from gaming and art is volunteer work. My mom got me into volunteer work when I was in my early teens, where I’d get to go to a lot of events and do face painting, or even balloon animals. I’ve participated in Crime Prevention events and last Christmas performed some Christmas music a couple times for the Salvation Army.

What are you looking forward to most in Sea of Thieves?
I LOVE pirate-themed things! I think a lot of people have really been looking for a great pirate game. Granted, there have been some decent ones already such as Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, but there’s yet to be a game that really focuses on everything it means to be a pirate. I think Rare really has the right idea making it a multiplayer experience! A huge part of being a pirate is working with a crew to plunder the seas, and I am so excited to team up with a group of my friends and work together hunting for treasure and more. I can’t wait to see what Rare has in store for us with this game, and I know everyone will love it!

Jackie's art covers a whole range of different games and franchises.

Share a fun fact about yourself. Anything is fair game!
When I was a toddler, my mom came upstairs to see an excited look on my face and I told her she had to come look at what I did. I pulled her into the room for her to see that I had coloured all across the bedroom wall as high as I could reach, and as much as she wanted to be mad at me, she told me it was beautiful instead! To this day she still thinks that it’s the reason I am as artistic as I am!

And there you have it...

That’s a wrap for this week’s Community Spotlight, but we’d like to say a massive thank you to Jackie for taking the time to chat with us and of course, for supporting us as a studio. We’re looking forward to seeing where Jackie’s imagination takes her in the future! We’ll be back soon with another spotlight, but until then, don’t forget to keep an eye on our website and of course Twitter and Facebook for all the very latest on Sea of Thieves.