Phil Alderson is our resident Games Artist, having joined Peek & Poke back in late 2017. Can you tell us a little bit about your career journey so far?
I started out in Sheffield working as a graphic artist for an e-learning company, and found myself sitting at a desk next to a promising young developer named Tim Cooper. After having way too much fun I took the leap into self-employment and briefly worked on projects in primary and secondary schools, delivering animation and game design workshops to children – encouraging creative thinking and problem solving through art and technology.
I became a freelance illustrator over 10 years ago. During this time I have illustrated for a wide variety of different clients and briefs including editorial illustration for the likes of the Financial Times, and projects within e-learning, Flash games, character design, storyboarding, and children’s books.
Working as a freelancer allowed me to balance being a stay-at-home dad to my two children, seeking out illustration jobs as well as selling my own artwork and papermache creations.
What is your job title at Peek & Poke and what does it mean?
I am a Digital Games Artist, which means illustrating and animating characters and game environments, adapting the white label engines to client brands, and working on UX and UI designs.
Why did you want to work with Peek & Poke?
Having worked for Team Cooper (the previous incarnation of Peek & Poke) on a freelance basis, I enjoyed their sense of humour and fun and creative approach to the design process – something which I felt would really fit with my way of working.
After spending so many years working from my home studio, I was ready to work as part of a team again, contributing to new ideas for games and working with a group of fun, like-minded creatives.
What is your creative process?
Mind maps are 50% of my process. I use them to explore initial ideas, doodle, and think about elements needed to communicate an idea successfully. They help me to find less obvious solutions to creative problems – sometimes the best results come from a more left-field approach. However, sometimes the simplest idea is the best and just needs fleshing out with a mind map to discover its full potential.
It’s important to me that my work conveys a sense of fun and playfulness, so I always try to put in a bit of humour where appropriate. When I’ve done the mapping it allows me to move onto the next phase – composition and how an image is going to look. I might do some research and collate images online for reference later. Then it’s onto the usual process – thumbnails, sketches etc.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Inspiration comes from everywhere and everything, doesn’t it? I think anything that is intriguing or unusual or something that makes me laugh. My kids love to point out how to make my work better and they are always trying to pass on their game ideas – hopefully the ‘Musical cat squeezing organ’ and ‘Stop the dog from jumping up at the table’ games will be Peek & Poke’s next big hitters! Perhaps…
What’s your favourite game?
I still have a fondness for the early ZX Spectrum games of my childhood – Horace Goes Skiing, Chuckie Egg, Jetpac… the old ones are the best.
Lastly, and most importantly, what is your zombie apocalypse survival plan?
I’d go to the nearest castle and borrow a suit of armour and a big sword for protection/chopping off heads.
Sounds like a good plan to us…