Interview with BoO
by Mr Ed (July 2001)
Hello BoO, have a seat. Comfi? Ok, let's start by introducing yourself to our readers.
Right, ok... Hello everyone! I am BoO/Talent, a 25 year-old graphic artist and musician from Kristiansund, Norway. Been part of the demoscene for two-digit number of years already..
And what do you do for a living?
Currently, I am working as a graphic artist at an entertainment software company called "Eurocom Developments Limited", which is based in Derby - England. I moved over from Norway in September 1998 and have been here since - I must say I really enjoy my work place, nice game projects, excellent working environment and friendly colleagues. Unfortunately, when I first arrived there weren't many demo sceners working here. In fact I believe I was the only one! Luckily I got accompanied by Hans (Optic), Calvin (Gfx-Twins), Artur (Mustafa), Maciej (Madd), and Marcel (Alive) later on. Oh, by the way if I could squeeze in a tiny advertisement for Eurocom I'll gladly do so: If you're a good pixel artist and looking for a great job, give me a shout... You should be able to find my e-mail address in the end of this interview. ;)
No you can't squeeze it in, but i'm too late already. Damn :) What do you do when you are not in the Eurocom Dungeons? Any hobbies?
Well, I used to have more spare time to indulge myself with different activities, but unfortunately this is not the case anymore. When I am so lucky to find some time where I got nothing else to do, nowadays I dedicate most of my time to my dear girlfriend, Cinthia! :) Some times I practice a bit of cooking, drawing art and composing music. I also do abit of work-out at a local fitness centre a few times a week just to keep the body in shape, 'cause sitting on an office chair day in and day out is certainly not good - especially my back. Now and then I also join my collegues playing football as well.
Ok tell me about your past. Where did it all start?
Must have been around 1985/86 when i started out with a Commodore Vic-20. Didn't do much interesting there but playing a few cartridge games. About a year or so later I had saved up enough money to buy my first C-64 which was a magical moment indeed... I used it for mainly playing games, had my first touches of computer art using "Koala Paint". :) Although the real thing didn't really happen for me before a couple of years later when I discovered the true "rolls-royce" of a puter in the display window downtown. It was the Amiga 500 of course. When I finally managed to get hold of one I was to be changed for life. How could I believe back then that this plastic lump would be the one to choose the path of my life..? I have had two Amiga 500s, an Amiga 2000, Amiga 1200.. In '95 I bought my first PC.. P90. Today I got a 1.2 ghz one.
And how did you first get in contact with the scene?
This happened through a few close friends who were so-called "swappers" who introduced me to scene productions on the Amiga. Swappers is a rare species to be seen nowadays but in good old days, when we didn't have Internet, they were deeply needed to spread our scene productions by snail mail. My mates were swappers with style and had far above 100 contacts so it wasn't much problem to get the lastest productions! I guess I was introduced around '89/90'.
To avoid being a complete dependent of getting hold of demos from my friends, I wanted to start swapping myself, so I placed some adverts in the old Swedish computer magazine (RIP) which was called "Dator" (Yess! Don't we remember that one? Long before "Tekno" appeared, boys) and got a few contacts from there. So I started swapping big-time to get hold of new demos and stuff to swap with my local friends - and this went on and on and I got into it more and more. In 1990-91 I started to play more with Deluxe Paint, Noise- and Protracker as well. Not much later I formed my own little demo group together with my mates which was called "Awe" (I had members like Optic who is sharing same office with me at Eurocom today, and Redferne who is now working as a programmer at Funcom in Oslo, etc.) But later on I just gave it all up and left to team up with Stripe The Gremlin's demo group called Talent where I have been ever since (1992)!
Where did the name "Boo" come from?
Hm... That's a while ago. 1993/94 I think... I remember my first handle was Mace, but the problem was that there was already a famous scener with the same handle (programmer in Phenomena) - so back then, when lamers still bowed for the elite - i was no exception. Hehe. Then later I wanted to join this trend of pixel artists with short handles like i.e Ra, Uno, Mack, Walt, Hof, etc. So I had to come up with something short and unique which people would remember... (Well, so I thought) But still today, 7-8 years later, it seems as if that strategy didn't work out well..! :) Bugger..
Well that's your point of view :) Most sceners do remember your Talent and Spaceballs graphics. Could you give us a few names of productions you have worked on?
On Amiga... "QED 2", "Showtime", "Panta Rhei", "42 issue 1", "42 issue 2", "Blue Oyster Bar", "Pacem Para Bellum", Talentiaden" plus several others along with bucketloads of Spaceballs productions as well.
On PC... "Christmas Chips", "Nygma", "Possibly Maybe", "Chromagic 2", "Wonders Never Cease", "The Official Eurochart", plus many more...
Which one springs out in you're mind?
On Amiga, it must be "Panta Rhei" - it was a good production with a few innovative routines, i.e the first ever roller coaster in a demo. It was supposed to be released at Rendezvous '93 but the organizers cancelled the demo compo.. Even the guys from Andromeda liked that demo, and a year later we could see a similar but improved roller coaster routine in their "Sequential" demo, too. Hehe. :) Looking at it today doesn't quite give me the same feeling, but back then.. Wow.
Hm. On PC it must be "Wonders Never Cease" and "Christmas Chips". Two productions that were well received by the demo scene. :) Lately also the online version of "The Official Eurochart". Which is now DEAD. Yes, I am awfully sorry people. I have no time nor energy to continue this project. If anyone wants to take it over, please let me know and we will find a solution. The scene needs it, definitely.
Thats a real shame. As you've been an active scener for a long time, has the scene changed you in your mind?
Ahm. Maybe in the sense of learning myself to work towards a goal - becoming visionary. I think for many sceners there's this dream of become one of the best, the crave for fame so to speak. Achieve entering the charts and maybe be so lucky to top it and be remembered for it. It is not bad at all because you only develop yourself. It works like what a carrot does for the donkey. Then again, you might end up as many elite sceners do, unfortunately: Become greedy, cocky and big-headed. I hope I am not! What else? I am sure I wouldn't have become such a good team-worker and organizer without my time in the demo-scene either.
Did you ever enter a party Compo?
Oof. Yeah. Quite a few actually. Let me just try to remember some of them... The Gathering 93 -> 1997 (both graphics and music). Rendezvous 93, The Party 7, Convention 96 -> 99.
When did you first notice that you had a talent for drawing art?
I have always enjoyed drawing, but I dunno if I ever discovered that I had a talent for it. I am still not sure.. Hehe.
Hehe...But are you completely self thought or did you take artclasses?
Self-educated, yes. No art classes what-so-ever. I wouldn't mind having a BA degree tho'.
Which programmes do you use?
These days? Mainly Photoshop and Grafx 2. But before I used Deluxe Paint on Amiga. Both ECS and AGA. I also work with 3d Studio Max lot.
3d Studio Max? I never saw 3d artwork from you. Do you only use it for work or have you made 3d artworks for the scene as well?
I don't like to use Max to render pictures and such. At least I haven't got the taste for it yet... I love modelling actually, but I have mostly done low-poly modelling in relation with work. Modelling, texturing and lighting levels for example. So when I use Max I do it in relation with real-time 3d engines (demo-scene and professionally). Maybe you'll see some rendered pictures from me in the nearest future.. Who knows.
Do you use any tools like a Wacom pad? Scanner maybe? :)
I have a 'Wacom A4 oversize' tablet at work which is a must for me after I got used to utilize pen. Going back to use mouse in Photoshop is so frustrating... Adjusting opacity manually for example.. Arghh.. Nice thing is that I am left-handed when I use the pen and right-handed when I use the mouse, so I can use both at the same time (choosing tools with the mouse, while performing the actual artwork with the pen), which is efficient. Doesn't really reflect in my productivity, I know!
But anyway... :) I don't use any scanner for my own personal artwork, but to scan reference pictures for work purpose (professionally) is pretty normal. Especially if you work on a realistic looking game project (to use for textures for 3d geometry i.e) - no point wasting time to draw it from scratch. I know we all have a certain pride (and believe me this was a fact which was hard for me to swallow), but in the end of the day time is money...
Do you first draw stuff on paper or do you draw directly via a computer?
It varies actually but most of the time I sketch a rough outline using Grafx2 and work my way up colour by colour/layer by layer. Adding details, antialiasing and tweaking the colours.
How long does that take?
I have no idea about that to be honest.. Been years since I did a fullscreen picture now. :/ Well, I guess that depends on various factors like i.e mood, inspiration, canvas size (!), etc.. But if I'd had to say a 640x480 true-colour picture I would guess (since I never draw non-stop from start to end) about 4-5 days. Unfortunately, I don't find time to draw much fullscreen pictures nowadays which is a shame. My professional life eats a lot of my time.
Well, I hope you will release new stuff soon. Where do you get you're inspiration from?
As you can see from my old pixel art I was very much influenced by Mr. Valejo (as many other scene artists). Sad but true. Otherwise I get inspiration from all sorts of stuffs, study techniques, colour definements from other pixel artists (we learn from each other don't we?). Everything from photos, commercials, books, to motives on porcelain plates..! Well, basically everything interesting my eyes catch during my every-day life - nature is perfection.
What do you find the most difficult to draw?
That must be hair. Getting a natural looking light and shadow composition on it. But they say you can differ good artists from less good ones by studying their way of drawing fingers and toes. I don't know...
Wouldn't most artists say 'eyes'? :) Faces etc.. Easy. Or maybe that's because I like drawing this mostly and it makes it more easy due to the practice behind it?
That's the opinion of most scene artists nowadays. A lot of art that is entered in party compo's is faces. Do you ever look at what the scene-artist produce today?
Oh yes I do. But mostly when I open the zip archieves from the various graphics competitions, I browse quickly through I must admit. Some times I get enough just by looking at the thumbs... Still, there are some good artists out there! Jamon, Louie, Mirage, Splif, Optic, Made, Mustafa and Madd are probably among the best, active, ones out there at the moment. Saffron and Visualice have a nice and interesting style, but I seldom get impressed. And I am fed up to see either of these two do graphics for nearly all demos that get released nowadays - which again says a lot about how quick and easy it is to spit out work like this.
Great to see old-school sceners like Peachy back in action and with success in recent graphics competitions. Altho' I have to say I prefer his pixel art. But his Photoshop skills are getting along - less and less over-antialiased. ;) Seen some of Critikill's work... Very up and down with him, makes me wonder sometimes. Other good, present, artists worth mentioning are Cyclone, Acryl, Der Piipo, MRK, Java, Anthony, Neurodruid, X-Man....
Do you only draw on computer?
I enjoy drawing on paper, too.. Mostly pencil sketching, but I must be honest to say that it is a bloody mess. I prefer the clean 'undo' method. :) However, I want to try out oil painting sooner or later. I have tried it once and really enjoyed it! Even though it might seem boring, I would love to paint landscape motives actually. But again... Time!
Are you pleased with your pictures?
I don't know. Not many of them I'm afraid. I have got to hear that I am more of a graphic designer than a graphic artist. I must say I agree to that.
Not many? Which ones are you not so pleased about?
That was an easy one.. Hehe. Most of them. But then again, that's easy to say now, years after, right?
What is your favourite demo?
Again, so difficult to choose my favourite demo. Nexus7, Inside, Captured Dreams, Stars, Tint, State of Mind, Wonder, amongst others are really nice. But to take a new demo, I must say I really enjoyed "A touch of funk" by Digital Murder because it has a funky theme througout the whole demo, nice character design, brilliantly animated as well as funny, and damn well scripted. Not too sure about using commercial mp3s in demos tho since the demos will loose the touch of the demo scene feeling and become more of a commercial music video. But what can we do?
The hardware limits seem to loosen up more and more and it is not so easy to impress anymore, so that part of the fun has gone lost. =/ So it has to be done by graphics, design and fashion innovations nowadays. I also like the finnish guys, Orange and Mature Furk as well as some of the Sunflower's stuff. I am still waiting for some new demos with more quality graphics as in good old days. Today, you mostly get demos with either Visualice or Saffron look-alike graphics/design which I am starting to get fed up with to be quite frank. Come on people! Be abit more innovative and creative..! :) And another thing I would like to say while I am here; Please stop adding layer with layer with demo effects on top of each other - it doesn't look nice nor cool - just messy. Especially if you don't know how to mix colours properly when using colour addition/subtraction...
Any favourite scene-artist?
Danny for being the ultimate perfectionist. Ra for his wicked colour mixing and originality. Lazur for his eye for detail. Mack, Walt, Uno and Hof - the marvellous pixel pushers. And finally Made who has a slice of the abilities from each of those above and being so damn productive that I wanna kick his French ass. :)
And what is your favourite picture ?
I don't know. There is so much I like... Just look at your archive of pixel art at your highly beloved "GfxZone". How can you possibly just pick out a favourite picture between all those? Anyway, recently I was very impressed by a French artist called Splif. Neat and clean style with good saturation in his colours. Don't remember the name of the picture I have in mind, something with "Purple". (Ed: "Purple eclosion") Lovely. Other new artists that have really impressed me are the two Polish guys, Mustafa and Madd.
What is your point of view on scanning/retouching debate?
Well, it is an easy way of escaping a lot of work I must say. Don't scan, it will just give you bad conscience and you won't feel satisfied with your work. Do something from scratch which is your own, unique work and you will feel different and more satisfied in the end. Shit, sounds as if I talk of experience. But I'm not. :).
What projects are you currently working on?
A demo and a music disk.
And what are you're plans for the future?
Hopefully when things calm down in my professional life I can indulge myself with things I would like to do. Perhaps draw some more scene art, pixel art, pictures, logos, compose music, etc.. It has been a while since I did that now so I want to prove to myself I can still do it. Or maybe I've completely lost it? Composing music. Oh dear, I can't almost remember last time I made a tune.. Must be back in January or something.. =/ Years ago I made 4-5 tunes a week at least!
If you could give beginning artist a point of advice, what would it be?
I wouldn't listen to what all the other artists say and tell you to do, develop your own point of views on things instead - don't be afraid of doing it your own way! Just look at me, I am a dreadful example of how an artist shouldn't be like! :)
It's time to end the interview. Anything you would like to say to the readers? Any hellos??
Yes, as I said in the beginning of this interview regarding job opportunities at Eurocom; if you think you're a good pixel artist and you are up for a full-time job, please don't hesitate in contacting me! We'll sort you out.. ;)
Cheerios to my work collegues and scene friends: Optic, Subagazi, Alive, Gfx-Twins, Artur, Maciej, Adok, Chromag, Virgill, Jogeir Liljedahl, Orome, Lynne, Tim, Shorty, Chris Maeland, Paul Wiik, Jana, Karl, Mermaid, Sixpack, Rez, Jukebox, MRK, Loonie, Danny, Facet, Lizardking, Hardfire, Darkus, Smash, Slummy, Skint, Zack, everybody at Dejavu, and to the rest I happened to forget right now...
And finally a special one to my dear Cinthia... Love you to bits!
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BoO can be reached at this email address
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