Interview with The Great Showdowns Artist Scott Campbell

Scott Campbell (known professionally as Scott C.) is an American painter and illustrator who also works as Art Director for the brilliant game development studio Double Fine Productions. We recently got the opportunity to ask him a few questions about his wonderful new book The Great Showdowns – a collection of his 130+ paintings showcasing the greatest confrontations in film, where we find out how his love of movies has influenced his life, which one showdown would “rule them all,”  and just how awesome Neil Patrick Harris is.

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RTNDR:  The Great Showdowns has over 130+ film-inspired paintings and you seem to be a serious fan of cinema and the confrontations presented within them – so have you watched all of these films in their entirety and what is it about these struggles that lead you to draw them?

Scott C:  I have seen all of the films in the book and almost all the films on the site, but i must confess that there are a few that i skimmed.  There were some that i recognized as culturally significant, but just never felt like watching them. Heh heh. But there were always moments that stuck with me through the years, even if just moments from the TV ads!  But pretty much most of them i have seen through my many years of existence.  But most people have seen as much as i have, i have just started painting them all.  I do absolutely love watching films though.  They have influenced every part of my life since i was a kid from the clothes that i wore to the jokes that came out of my mouth.  When i was younger, my favorite films were a part of my identity.  And struggles are something we can all identify with, whether it is struggling with an enemy or struggling with a menu to figure out what the heck dish to order.  There are so many moments that have stuck with me through the years and it is crazy how much nostalgia just floods back when I go back and watch those films.  I love exploring those moments and i love assembling them into an epic mix tape of great film moments.

RTNDR:  There are many more Showdown paintings on your website, GreatShowdowns.com, but we wanted to know how did you decide which paintings would be included in this art book?

Scott C:  The  book collects my favorite of the first big chunk of them.  Some of the more obscure ones we did not include in the book.  We have obscure ones in there for sure, but we tried to choose ones that would be most enjoyable for everyone to figure out. With plenty of good obscure ones though, don’t worry. The project is ongoing, so there are plenty for more books in the future!

RTNDR:  Our editors’ favorite 80’s movie is Top Gun and they tried looking for a Top Gun showdown in the book to no avail – that got us to asking were there movies that you really wanted to draw for but thought that it just might not work? Did you consider painting TV series-inspired showdowns?

Scott C:  I’ve done Top Gun twice!  But maybe i wasn’t into how they turned out enough to include them in the book.  I know that the most recent one was made too late for the book, the volleyball scene.   The first one was Maverick versus Iceman.  But anyway, there are for sure showdowns that i havent figure out how to make yet.  I really want to do a Memento showdown, but i want to do him with his shirt off and all his tattoos and i can’t figure out what he would be showing down with. Some movies aren’t unique enough for me to find good visual elements to work with, like war movies or westerns.  I have done TV shows and video games for special events.  Like that LOST event that happened at Gallery 1988 a few years back. But for the Great Showdowns site, i am sticking to films.  That is my rule for now!  Just because you have to have rules and I’d be opening a huge can of worms with TV shows that i am not ready to open just yet.

RTNDR:  So we were wondering, is a majority of your professional artwork also done in watercolors? Are you most comfortable drawing in small formats?

Scott C:  Most of my illustration work is done in watercolors, yes.  I find watercolors very relaxing and loose.  I started loosening up my linework to emulate illustrations from the 1950’s and they just got loosey goosey in their own way, I suppose.  I like wild lines.  I definitely like painting small, but I would love to paint larger at some point.  I live in a small apartment in New York, so perhaps it is that concept where if you get a fish a bigger tank, it shall grow larger.  If you catch my drift.

RTNDR:  You work as art director for one of our absolute favorite video game developers Double Fine, working on the classic Psychonauts and the wonderfully imaginative Brutal Legend and many others, but have you thought about pitching a video game based on your showdowns? Say a Street Fighter-esque fight-em-up game?

Scott C:  Ha!  Wow, that is a great idea.  I haven’t thought of that.  That could be pretty fun.  You could play as one character or groups like the twin girls from the Shining holding hands.  That could be pretty funny.  Hmmm.  Thoughts.

RTNDR:  We see that Neil Patrick Harris has written a nice forward for The Great Showdowns and on your blog Pyramidcar.com you showed your fans the great time you had visiting the set of How I Met Your Mother – just how awesome is NPH?

Scott C:  NPH is the best!  He is a super pleasant dude.  I am so happy that he agreed to write the foreword.  He already owned a few of the Showdown originals prior to me asking him.  We did an exchange where I would paint a showdown of his choice and he would write a foreword.  He chose the film Clue and we had a great time jamming out what the showdown could be together.  He is a very gracious and incredibly witty fellow that I have immense respect for.  The whole How I Met Your Mother crew is an awesome family actually!  It looked like the best place to work!

RTNDR:  Lastly, If you were to pick just one showdown to be the “King of All Showdowns,” which one would it be and why?

Scott C:  Well, I painted it for the recent Great Showdowns exhibition at Gallery 1988.  The largest showdown to date.  The great battle in Lord Of The Rings: Return Of The King.  I tried to think of the greatest of all showdowns and no film has been as epic as that one in my mind.  I was just blown away by those films.  The waves and waves of dudes attacking dudes?  so crazy.  I loved it.  Gandalf knew best when he said the words, “We come to it, at last. The great battle of our time.”

— We at Retrenders want to give big thanks to Scott for taking the time out to answer these questions!

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Hardcover:  The Great Showdowns

Artist:  Scott Campbell

Publisher:  Titan Books

MSRP:  $14.95USD

Available:  October 19, 2012

Wanna see more great artwork and info from Scott? Check out more paintings here at his Showdowns site and keep up to date with what’s going on with him on his blog.

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