Imagine that you’re a struggling artist. You’ve got undeniable talent, your friends all think you’re great at what you do, and your family’s supportive of you… but no one else seems to be paying attention to your work. One day, you upload a photo of your latest creation—a hand-drawn movie poster—to your websbite, and something you’ve always hoped would happen finally does: a few key people notice the poster, share it with others, and now all of ‘em want to pay you for a copy of it. Over the course of one frantic day, you go from being almost completely unknown… to having an inbox filled with questions, PayPal receipts, and maybe even a few offers for future work. It’s what you’ve been hoping would happen, but are you prepared for it?
This is what happened to artist Alexander Iaccarino over the past month. His take on the animated 80’s classic Akira put him on the radar of hundreds—if not thousands—of art collectors recently, and in the time since he’s had to adapt to his newfound success. With a brand-new poster (based on Sony’s upcoming The Last of Us) debuting this weekend at the Penny Arcade Expo, Iaccarino sat down with Limited Paper to describe what it’s been like (and to help us give away a few copies of that new poster). Meet me after the jump, folks.
The first time we came across Alexander Iaccarino’s work here at Limited Paper, it was…well, just a matter of hours before many of you saw his work for the first time: I’d been working on that day’s edition of the column, found myself short one small news story, and had gone traipsing through the usual websites looking for something to fill the gap. Turned out, this was the same day that a photo of Iaccarino’s Akira poster had been making the rounds, and before too long I came across this:
I learned the poster was created by an artist named Alexander Iaccarino, that he had his own website—ThatKidWhoDraws.com—and that the Akira poster was something he’d only recently put online. The piece was available in two sizes, the price was right, and the story was just the right size to fit into that day’s edition of Limited Paper: I bought a copy of the print for myself, shot Alex an email letting him know we were going to feature him that day, and then…published the article. Twenty-four hours later, both editions of the print were sold out, and when I first heard back from Alex it was clear he was a little overwhelmed by the response.
Since that day, Iaccarino has done his best to adjust to that overnight success (he’d never had to fill several hundred orders at once, much less oversee the printing of that many copies of his work), and from where we’re standing, he’s done a pretty decent job of it. Yes, there have been some speed-bumps along the way (particularly during the shipping of his Akira piece), but Iaccarino’s made a point to satisfy every customer who emails him with a question, concern, or complaint, and he’s remained far more humble than I think many other people would have in his position.
When Iaccarino told Limited Paper that he was on the verge of releasing a new piece of work—this one done in conjunction with Sony and scheduled to make its debut at this weekend’s Penny Arcade Expo—we were genuinely excited for him. And when the folks over at Naughty Dog (one of the best companies producing games under the Sony banner; see also: the Uncharted series) reached out to tell us that A) Iaccarino’s poster was for their new highly-anticipated PS3 game, The Last of US, and that B) they had a few copies of the poster to give away here at Limited Paper, we jumped at the opportunity. In case you missed it, here’s the poster (and its specs):
- The Last of Us by Alexander Iaccarino
- Regular Edition of 3,000 (handed out at PAX)
- The Last of Us by Alexander Iaccarino
- 20×30” giclee
- Variant Edition of 40 (15 handed out at PAX)
Before we get to the giveaway—where, it’s worth noting, we’ll be handing out three of the variant editions of the print—I’ve got a brief Q&A with Alex Iaccarino to share. We’ve been in touch ever since Akira made its debut in Limited Paper, and he’s had some interesting thoughts about the past month that I thought everyone would be curious to here. Without further ado, here’s what he had to say when we talked earlier this week:
Limited Paper: Tell us about how long you’ve been working on The Last of Us. Presumably, Sony contacted you long before the Akira sellout occurred, right?
Alexander Iaccarino: I had actually been talking to Naughty Dog since back in March, when I created an earlier illustration for the game simply as fan-art. Even earlier this year I spent a few months in Austin looking for inspiration and certainly found it at the Mondo gallery opening during SXSW. I immediately went home to illustrate a poster worthy to hang on their walls and picked my obsession at the time, The Last of Us. Mondo didn’t seem to notice but the cool guys at Naughty Dog did and we’ve been talking about future work since.
What was the process like? Did Sony/Naughty Dog allow you to play the game at all, or did you have to design the poster based entirely on already-released photos and videos from the game?
Iaccarino: It would have been awesome if I’d gotten an early demo but sadly that wasn’t the case. They did send me a lengthy unreleased video of game play to draw inspiration from which featured a great deal of different environments and imagery. Up until that point the team at Game Informer Magazine were the only other people to have seen it which made me geek out a little bit.
Iaccarino: Funny, I didn’t even think to ask. But they posted pictures of a large “fungus zombie” statue (the zombie from their first trailer) on their blog which had me drooling. During our first conference call I shamelessly blurted “I WANT THAT”. Hopefully if they decide to produce those I’ll find one on my doorstep. I fully intend to buy the game, even a PS3 for that matter, when it releases.
Based on what you’ve seen from the game, how would you describe the game to someone who’s never heard of it?
Iaccarino: “Adventures in Post-Apocalyptic Babysitting,” haha. Without giving too much away, the video I saw had hilarious banter between Joel and Elle as he escorted her safely through the world. Assuming someone didn’t have a spare hour to listen to me excitedly ramble on, I would sum it up as; A cinematic gaming experience revolving around survival in the most unique zombie apocalypse world to date. Like I said it has one of the most ingenious spins on the zombie genre but it doesn’t seem to slam it down your throat. It looks as if zombies are only one aspect of the game along with the environment which is almost a character all itself.
Are you a big gamer? It seems like there’s plenty of overlap between poster collectors and gamers, but relatively few screenprints/posters based on games. Assuming you are (a gamer), what other video game properties would you be interested in producing artwork for?
Iaccarino: Gaming is an occasional break from work, but it can become an all-consuming obsession if I’m not careful. I had to wean myself off Minecraft by illustrating a couple pieces of fan art. If I could choose any game to produce official work for I’d have to say the Jet Grind Radio HD release. I still have the original for Sega Dreamcast…which is plugged in and dusted off from time to time. Right now I’m playing DayZ which is a zombie mod of a combat simulator. So, if you see TKWD running around Elektro, don’t shoot me bro: hook me up with some canned beans or something .
Now that– presumably– you’re through the bulk of the shipping on the Akira piece, how does it feel looking back on that sale? I imagine it’s gotta be kind of surreal going from “Hey, anyone want an Akira poster?” to “Holy shit, does anyone NOT want an Akira poster?!”
Iacarrino: It’s been a crazy experience, my life pretty much for an entire month. This is all relatively new to me so, it’s been a little hectic… but luckily the fans have been supportive and patient. The whole time I just thought to myself, “Well, at least it will never be this hard again”, because I’ve learned so much that the next run will seem like walk in the park. The printing process will be less confusing, as I will have one size and one stock from now on. Packaging and shipping will go a lot smoother, too. I’ve answered almost all 200 orders personally and have gotten to know the patrons. I plan to do something special for them in the future.
We’re going to be giving away three copies of your LAST OF US variant (of which there are only 40). How do ya think we oughtta pick the winners?
Iaccarino: A fight to the death? That’s a hard decision, I’ll leave that up to you.
Fair enough. What are you working on next? Do you have any plans to release future posters as screenprints rather than giclees?
Iaccarino: If I find the time to take on all the work on my plate I’ll be busy for the rest of year. I’m really excited for some things in the work– one being a movie poster for one of my favorite films. It’s already been tackled by great artists, so it’s going to be a challenge to do something unique and stand with the masters. I’m completely self-taught in my work and continuing that trend I’m going to learn more about screenprinting posters. I have some commercial experience (for Halloween last year I used two pints of my own blood to screen posters for a zombie march I organized), but it will take time to get down and offer a quality product. But well worth it! Once I can prove myself, I’m considering making a Kickstarter to see if fans would support my move in that direction.
Aaaand I’m pretty sure a bunch of ‘em would, too. Thanks so much to Iaccarino for taking the time to talk to us (and—before we forget—thanks to Naughty Dog and the people at Sony for facilitating both the interview above and the giveaway we’re about to get into)! Seems like an alright dude, no?
Now, with that out of the way, let’s talk a little more about his Last of Us poster. For those not in the know, The Last of Us is the forthcoming game by Uncharted creators Naughty Dog. That series—which followed the exploits of the Indiana Jones-like Nathan Drake through three increasingly-kick-ass titles—has been one of the PS3’s most successful to date. Indeed, the franchise is one of the best reasons to own a PS3 console. Well, whereas Uncharted was a bit more Raiders of The Lost Ark, The Last of Us appears to be a bit more 28 Days Later: players control a pair of characters as they navigate the treacherous world left in the wake of some sorta biological meltdown, one that’s left humanity either horrifically mutated or struggling to survive. In case you’ve missed any of the game’s amazing gameplay trailers, here’s one of our favorites:
Iaccarino’s poster seems to perfectly capture the tone and action of Naughty Dog’s latest, and we’re thrilled that they selected us to be one of the few places in the world that you could possibly snag one of these awesome posters. What do you have to do to win? Well, in our last contest, we asked everyone to create their own artwork, a time-intensive process that we suspect many readers simply didn’t have the time to partake in. And so, for this one, we’re keeping things really simple: we’ve got three copies of Iaccarino’s Last of Us Variant to give away, and to win all you have to do is send an email to LimitedPaper@Gmail.com (make sure the subject line reads: “I WANT TO WIN THAT BADASS ‘LAST OF US’ POSTER!” or your entry won’t count) with the following information:
1) Your Name
2) Your Address (you’ve got to live in the United States)
3) Tell us the first thing you would do following a worldwide apocalypse: go to Disneyworld, ride all the rides without waiting in line? Tie one on in your local bar? Burn down your high school? The more creative you are in this response, the more likely you are to win.
Originally, we just planned on inserting a quick update here once we we’d received enough entries…but because– as a few readers pointed out– so many people are nowhere near their computers today (and, quite frankly, because the contest would’ve been over in less than 20 seconds if we’d just considered the first three responses to be the “Winners”), we’ve decided to extend today’s giveaway through tomorrow at midnight. In other words, you have until September 3rd at midnight to get your entries in, at which time I’ll go through every submission and pick the winners. A day or two later, we’ll update everyone with a follow-up article announcing the winners (along with their winning answers to Question #3 above), and once we receive the signed posters from Naughty Dog we’ll get back in touch with the winners to double-check their addresses/availability.
That’s it for now, folks, but stay tuned for even more Limited Paper goodness in the very near future: in addition to the announcement regarding the winners of our Last of Us giveaway, we’ve also got a badass preview of Bottleneck Gallery’s More Than You Imagined show in the works (featuring a look at the latest artwork from—among many others—Limited Paper favorite Mark Englert!), a sprawling gallery of images from Ltd. Art Gallery’s PRESS START show, and much, much more! As always, artists, galleries, poster-producers, readers, and anyone else with some poster-related news to share can reach us directly via email at LimitedPaper@Gmail.com , and we encourage you to follow along with us over on Twitter at @LimitedPaper (once we hit 1,000 followers, we’re doing another giveaway!). Everyone else? Looks like it’s the comments section for you: sound off with your thoughts below, folks!