Karen Petrasko is an American illustrator with heaps of talent! Cat On The Wall initially discovered her work with Yummy Drink Factory by Amaranth Games and was astounded by her graphics! Her work is charming, colourful yet muted, giving a sense of ease and comfort to the viewer. Karen is able to create atmosphere and personality within her characters and she is one artist to follow. We chatted with Karen about her work, her inspirations and cats, of course!
Cat On The Wall: Can you introduce yourself and your work?
Karen Petrasko: I’m a digital illustrator who specializes in creating background art and character design for games. I spent a significant part of last year as the lead artist on A Gypsy’s Tale, creating environments, sprites, and pretty much anything else Amanda could throw on my drawing board.
KP: I generally tend towards animals and organic imagery, but I can’t say that I have one specific subject that I like drawing above others. Mostly my interest in painting depends on colors. If I can imagine an interesting way to use color, then I love creating it.
COTW: You like cats. So do we. Where does your passion for cats come from?
KP: Cats are fantastic creatures. I grew up in a rural area that had a lot of barn cats, so I’ve always been around them. I’ve been living with a modest clowder of three since then. Mostly I’m drawn to them for their own individual quirks. I love that nearly every day I have my work interrupted by one of them doing something odd or funny. It keeps the place interesting.
KP: Amanda stumbled upon my work a year before and contracted me to do a few backgrounds for Yummy Drink Factory, one of her previous games. It turned out that we share an interest in fantasy stories and games, so she invited me back to work on A Gypsy’s Tale.
COTW: When you work on a project like A Gypsy’s Tale what is your method/process in creating the illustrations?
KP: It usually begins with a lot of reading. Amanda provides me with a design document and script that outlines the details of the scenes and the general gameplay. She does the hard work of creating the ideas while my part is simply to construct them. The process is a lot like furnishing a set. I imagine what should be in each scene, where the characters might live, and what kind of props they would have. I select the lighting and colors based on what will be happening in each area. I try to establish all these things in quick sketches and color studies. Then it’s followed by many hours spent with the paint brush in Photoshop.
COTW: I notice that the current showcased artworks for the game on your website all bear some continuity in design whilst managing to portray different scenes. What was your inspiration behind those particular pieces?
KP: It was established in the beginning that we would create something like an old 2d adventure game. I thought about what drew me to those games and tried to bring that into the visual style of A Gypsy’s Tale. I created overlapping layers of scenery with attention to the little details and props that would add to the story. I’m especially nostalgic for the sense of discovery in those games, so I tried to create something unique and memorable for each new area.
COTW: What are you plans for the near future?
KP: Mostly I just want to keep freelancing, making art for games, and having fun doing it.
Interview by CB Lux