It only took a little consideration to make the choice for Nintendo/Mario for Gallery 1988′s upcoming Old School Video Game Art Show. The working title is “Nintendo Nagaremono: Mario-Sama”.
Nintendo (任天堂株式会社) dates back to 1889, manufacturing playing cards (Hanafuda – Flower cards). I had the fortune to visit one of the shops in Tokyo carrying some of these vintage cards back in 2004. I had had no idea up until then that Nintendo was anything other than a videogame corp.
More than this, the gambling aspect of Nintendo’s heritage became part of Japan’s cinematic Pop-Culture history with Hanafuda playing a key iconographic role in many Ninkyo-Eiga films from the 60′s and 70′s.
For my contribution to the show, I redesigned Mario with some elements and features that harken back to 1960′s manga stylization (with a little nod to Saruta from Tezuka’s Hi No Tori epic) with an updated style going in a very different direction from the present 3D version. In fact, I still believe that 2D art gives the audience a closer, more personal feel/understanding of an animated characters than 3D. Its the simplicity of great 2D art that made Mario such a success.
The piece integrates both the Nintendo Handheld’s of the 80′s (my fav being Donkey Kong) with Hanafuda memorabilia, and little arcade touches as well. Mario’s arm is adorned with Donkey Kong and JR irezumi tattoos along with an Orochi and other elements of Japanese Ukiyo-E mythology.
Background is classic Donkey Kong on Colecovision – the first gaming system I ever played.
More to come and hope to see everyone at Gallery 1988 on Sep 16th for the launch of this show! – Gallery 1988, 214 Pier Avenue, Santa Monica CA 90405