If you caught our recent iam8bit article, you’ll no doubt have read that we were due to attend a special event at the gallery in LA. Below is an interview I conducted with the founder/co-partner of iam8bit. Also catch our video of the night we attended which gives a closer look at the artwork that was on show. Enjoy!
iam8bit was originally founded in 2005. Now nearly a decade on your work seems to be getting stronger by the day. For those who maybe don’t know, what do you do?
We’re many things. We’re a creative production company, that’s what we mostly tell people. We also happen to own an art gallery in Los Angeles where we host art shows every month, but we’re also deeply into the marketing and production sector of gaming, movies, music and the stuff we own too. We’re using our space and our experience to throw events, alongside producing campaigns for films and games, while providing people with a robust and unique experience in our own space. Our goal is always to invite people in to have an experience and that word “experience” is key, because I think that’s what makes us special. You can just have art on the walls, but I think you also have to give people something tactile and something they can sink their teeth into. For instance the Scrooge’s Money Bin we have here tonight or the iam8bit entertainment system being made as a real console. Interactivity and connectivity are huge to us and we believe that’s the foundation of the magic we aim to create.
I first saw your work when I ordered one of your 300 prints of Dr. Nefarious, which turned out well worth the wait. What’s your work ethic behind achieving the absolute highest quality with each product you produce?
I co-own this company with my business partner Amanda, and we’re both kindred spirits in the sense that we’re both perfectionists. So it bothers us greatly when things don’t turn out the way they’re supposed to. When you have a vision in your brain and you want that to translate to a physical sense, and things don’t go right, it’s a terrible tragedy. Ultimately we want things to go more amazingly then most people might actually pursue. It’s a pain in the ass to make quality things, because you have to nit pick and really scrutinize the details – whereas a lot of people may choose to bypass that. Maybe because it’s ‘busy’ work, but to us it’s the details that really matter.
Over the years you’ve had many collaborations with some of the most well known names in the industry. One notable project that caught my eye was the ‘Boyle Party’ held in celebration of Arkane Studio’s Dishonored. How did that come about?
That was primarily a big part of Amanda’s repertoire; she comes from production on the film side so it was pursued as if we were producing a movie, if you will. We cast actors, we scripted lines and mysteries for events to engage in and we created these fabulous one of a kind masks that they could wear. We aimed to give people this mystery dinner party experience, but in a context that wasn’t so invasive; if you’re sitting at a table and someone is forcing interaction, it’s not as fun compared to if you’re wondering around and exploring for yourself. For instance, there were different engagement levels for those who attended: you could come and play the game and have some cocktails, you could observe the cool ambiance or you could really get involved and start communicating with this real world ‘ARG’, providing an alternate reality game that evolved in this crazy way. Bethesda are great collaborators in the sense they gave us the ability to really expand the mythos of the game, as well as letting us explore what makes the game tick, whilst allowing us to play with that in a really fun way.
Tonight you’re celebrating the retro gaming fantasies of over 80 artists. Some of the work here looks astounding. As both an artist and obvious fan of games, what’s your take on the work shown here tonight?
I’m personally very proud of what we’ve managed to put together. As a fan of 80’s games and a true nerd it’s a big deal to see all this stuff on display, but I think we’ve put together a really amazing catalogue of work. I also believe this is our strongest show yet in terms of the iam8bit spectrum. We’ve done many different things that aren’t games related, but in terms of that specific category I’m fucking happy with the result!
Next to that you’re celebrating the upcoming re-release of Capcom’s Duck Tails: Remastered. As part of your creative outlook you’ve also produced a 10ftx10ft replica of Scrooge McDuck’s Money Bin. It looks amazing. How do you arrange something like that?
We’re doing a whole campaign for Duck Tails: Remastered. We have a great collaborator, Matt Dahlgren in the marketing division at Capcom, who constantly engages us to do awesome things and this was a private dream of his to see a Money Bin realised in real life – it’s a kid fantasy for many people. Containing over seven hundred large plush coins, jewels and rubies, it’s also 10Ft by 10Ft which means you can literally dive and swim in a pool of money, which is something people have always wanted to do after seeing Duck Tails.
Before we go, is there anything you’ve got planned for the next generation of consoles arriving at the end of this year? If not, would you like to organize something special?
Yes, we’ve got a lot of cool stuff happening. As we’ve gotten a reputation in the industry and made enough friends, they’ve started to let us in on the process much earlier than most marketing campaigns. So now we’re part of the production process and there’s a lot of stuff in 2014 that we’re working on and beyond, that allows us to really start affecting things and turn marketing into more of a story. That’s one of our dreams at iam8bit, to make marketing much more than just something you do to sell stuff; it’s about expanding the universe and the mythos being thoroughly explored.
Mr. Gibson thank you very much for your time and for the opportunity of attending this prestigious event.