Companies and Artists

Ahmet Akkoç

We get it, no one likes that minimalist and soulless corporate artstyle. You know the one.

At different points in time, there have also been many critics who have decried works like La Chanson de Roland* or Suleymanname** for being soulless. The contents of such works have been called nothing more than propaganda apologetic of monarchies, and their authors declared sycophants and flatterers. Yet, when we take a step back to examine these classical works of art, we may observe subtleties that no one has articulated again, even after so many years. Devalued aspects. If, today, you were to go to the world’s most prominent artists and ask them to produce a similar work, they would not be able to imitate the style. Of course, those in power may use art as a goal to meet their ends, but that absolutely does not make the artistic work itself devoid of any value. In fact, in a sense, it might be said that those in power have recognised those values and sought refuge within them…

You would be amazed at what you can find by skipping from link to link, instead of drowning in the echo-chamber of social media feeds. Wandering around some tıme ago, I discovered the old pixel-art site PixelJoint***, and the ruins of the defunct Pixelopolis**** forum. Many years ago, WayForward, the company best known for Shantae, decided to hold a contest on Pixelopolis.

The winner was an indie game developer by the name of Konjak. Probably unbeknownst to even the other contestants, shortly after the contest WayForward hired Konjak as an animator for their new games. He has roles in the next two Shantae games, Risky’s Revenge and Shantae & the Pirate’s Curse. Ironically, the Wayback snapshot saved a lot of the contestants’ submissions, except for the winner’s. Thus, I had to personally send an e-mail asking for his winning artwork, now showing it in lowscore (^_~). Many props to Konjak for that.

Shantae dancing
Shantae strutting
Shantae doing a backflip

So, let’s not forget that there are people behind every brand. Those people also have their stories, they also have their adventures. How great for the reader who can catch a glimpse!

This article was adapted from the blog “Dene(me) Yanıl(ma)” or “Err, (or) Try All
Issue 3, titled “Neden feriklerin ve eşeklerin memeleri vardır?” or “Why it is that pullets and donkeys have nipples

* The Song of Roland is a French epic about the exploits of the knight Roland, who lived in the era of Charlemagne. The poem itself is dated to around the 11th Century. Although its author has been forgotten, it is considered the oldest surviving work of French Literature. It pioneered many influential clichés, for example the “Desperate Horn”:

** The Book of Suleiman is an illustrated poem commissioned by Suleiman the Great in the 16th Century. Structurally, it is in some ways an imitation and in some ways a homage to Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh. The author of the Suleymanname was Arif Çelebi, an accomplished historian who draws many allusions to mythology. In particular, he connects the Nine Worlds archetypes in Turkish and Persian mythology. In Norse Mythology you may know these as the Níu Heimar. The fact that he was able to do this centuries before comparative mythology became a proper discipline is an impressive flex.

*** PixelJoint is an art site dedicated to pixel-art. I discovered PixelJoint through YouTube links.
In particular, it was the Okami Art from this video that led me to PixelJoint. Original Artist: 7even (@unseven). Before the smartphone revolution, it was not uncommon for people to peruse art-sites to find images for their videos. And if they were kind, they would leave a link to the original artwork in a mutually beneficial arrangement. The video-editor raises the quality of their work and the artist receives newfound attention. YouTube’s copyright policy and the rise of ephemeral art on Twitter and Instagram have all but killed this practice. Art just appears for a moment before vanishing in the sorting algorithm or being deleted because the artist turned shy. Outside of dedicated studios, stock images and professional art have displaced most “filler” art in this regard. The tradition is not wholly dead yet, as the TikTok community is getting better at iterating over the work of previous artists. Even so, they still have to mature past the point of calling everything an “edit”.

**** Few people know Pixelopolis by that name. Pixelopolis was a forum for Pixel Artists, yes, but it was one of the many incarnations of the Pixelation community. First spun off from the artist circle, Pixelation was a community home to many indie artists, game developers and other professionals. Though even at its peak it never saw a membership of more than a few hundred people, it has left a very strong impact on the game art scene as a whole. Today, to my knowledge at least, most of the Pixelation diaspora resides on Twitter, or personal websites, save for a few forum travelers.