Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Art in the OSR
An interesting discussion at Discourse and Dragons on the topic of Art and Ideology in the OSR: http://discourseanddragons.blogspot.com/2011/02/art-and-ideology-in-osr.html. As a contributing artist to several OSR publications, I’d have to say that my art is not consciously or intentionally political. The work I’ve done is not an in your face commentary against the big gaming companies. Quite simply, I was raised on the aesthetic of not just OD&D, but medieval romance and fantasy imagery that was more grounded in real world traditions or has some verisimilitude. So, that is just where my comfort zone is. Draw what you know.
I think an interesting subdiscussion was developing in the comments in regards to the quality of the art in the OSR. I’ve heard from time to time folks say that some of the production values are low. Well, guess what, much of the OSR material is published by hobbyists for a small niche of enthusiasts. I’m actually pretty impressed by the quality of the art in the OSR. Several publishers of late have been putting out some great looking stuff. Lamentations of the Flame Princess, North Wind Publishing, Goblinoid Games, Brave Halfling, Expeditious Retreat Press, Mythmere Games, Frog God Games, Black Blade Publishing, etc have put out some really fine work. I can think of several artists who have been doing great work and only continue to get better: Peter Mullen, Stefan Poag, William McDevitt, Andy Taylor, and many, many more continue to impress me with their work (not to mention, they inspire me to better the quality of my own work). So on the whole, I think the quality of the OSR stuff is rising. Having said that, I also think that the single greatest strength of the OSR lies in its accessibility and the fact that ANYONE can participate. It very much reminds me of my punk rock days. It didn’t matter if you could play an instrument or not, it was all about getting up there and giving it ago. Sure, some rose above the rest, but the fact that you didn’t need anything special to contribute other than the sheer desire to do so was awesome. The OSR has a special energy driven by enthusiasts and hobbyists of all stripes. I for one, hope it never loses that vibrancy.