This is the english original-version of the interview with Nathan Jurevicius, the artist of the famous Scarygirl, made for Create or die in May 2009. You find the german parts here: Part 1 and Part 2. Here we go.
Nathan: Im pretty well – as usual have a lot of projects in the works including Scarygirl game development, production design for a short live action film, new toys with Kidrobot and a planned tour for the upcoming book launch. I also have a side project with my partner Andrea Kang called ‚Harley + Boss‘ and we have some lovely little things on the boil too that I’ll be able to reveal in a couple of months.
Nathan: Harley and Boss is a collaboration between myself and illustrator/designer Andrea Kang. We wanted to develop projects that complimented our style but had a focus on softer designs and using mixed media (cut-out paper, material, plush toys etc). We recently produced a piece for a show in Los Angeles and have been commissioned to create an album cover for an Australian artist. There’s also a plush series in the works.
Nathan: It’s a 2 part, 128 page hardcover book based on Scarygirl’s journey from being found at an abandoned peninsula by a giant octopus and her adventure to find her father. There’s a middle section to the book that has production sketches, photos and an interview by Kidrobot. The book will be first published by Allen and Unwin in Australia and then different territories around the world will also publish their own version.
Nathan: The Scarygirl story back many years ago was published weekly in a Hong Kong based magazine. It was very simple and was partly made to promote the limited edition vinyl figures I was making with Flying Cat. A number of years later I was approached by Allen and Unwin to make a three part story on her life…It’s taken a long time for me to finish it but finally will hit shelves in October.
Nathan: It was all me….probably why it took forever to make!
Nathan: We have the 3rd part already in the sketching/development stage. This will be the conclusion to Scarygirl’s story but I do plan to make backstories of the different characters too.
Nathan: Most likely Bunniguru and how he comes across his sidekick egg.
Nathan: I was born in Bordertown, South Australia and spent most of my life there (apart from a 1 year stay in London, UK). I moved with my family to Toronto, Canada in 2004 and have made this a good base to travel to various parts of the US/Europe.
Nathan: I don’t plan on being anywhere near Vancouver during the games – unless I’m required too. I’m not really a sports fanatic (though don’t mind golf and tennis…which are summer sports).
Do you consider Scarygirl as work, or rather, fun for you?
Nathan: Scarygirl is my baby and like most babies there’s elements of fun and hard work to nurture them. At the moment there’s probably more work than fun but I can see the light dawning at the end of this year when many projects based on her will come to fruition.
Nathan: I used to do a lot of editorial illustrations for various magazines and in one of them I created a crowd scene with various interesting characters (one being a very different looking Scarygirl)… I developed this character into a mini online concept and presented it to an Australian funding body – unfortunately their funding was cut and I shelved the idea but around the same time this happened a design firm in Hong Kong (Flying Cat) called me in the middle of the night and asked if I wanted to make toys with them. I agreed and we collaborated on a number of figures – the first ones being Scarygirl, Blister and Bunniguru.
In 2004 Sophie Byrne of Passion Pictures Australia optioned Scarygirl for a feature film/game and we have been working together closely since that time.
Nathan: I think with vinyl toys it all depends on how popular they are and in what runs/price range you make them. Generally I get royalties from my toys and it brings in a nice amount now and then but not enough to support 3 kids. We most likely will look into the mass market closer to when the film has a release date – in the meantime we want to focus on beautiful, limited edition objects.
Nathan: I think we have to. We will try and still make beautiful merchandising and keep a feeling of specialness. The types of products though will be more diverse than in the past.
Nathan: It’s important that my characters have individual personalities and complexities in order for fans to engage with them but also so I feel a bond with the characters. Generally I’m looking at themes of not judging a book by its cover and how none of us are truly all good or all bad – grey areas exist and make for interesting backstories.
Nathan: Both my Australian and Lithuanian/Latvian heritage plays an important part in my inspiration. Folk tales, the dreamtime, costumes, religious/family customs and daily rituals all come into my work.
Nathan: My father was born in a displaced persons camp in German during the late 1940’s. His parents were Lithuanian and Latvian. My mother is Irish/Scottish/Australian.
Nathan: The fine art is where I’m truly at home and would like to do more of it and in bigger venues. I’ve been asked to create a few commissions for various collectors and have a show planned in NYC next year (2010) with Andrea Kang.
Nathan: The MTV collaboration is still being promoted but they change up their tv spots seasonally. Apparently other countries are airing them though. My most recent projects include a window display/print advertising for Nike and some conceptual work for Hasbro Inc.
Nathan: I’ve did some conceptual work on 3 different lines for Hasbro. 2 of them for teens and a pre-school toy for Playskool but unfortunately they have not been released to the public yet so I can’t show anything.
Nathan: I would actually love to do one. I’m very keen and would be open to doing something either in live action or animation (or a combo).
Nathan: The online browser game has proved very successful for us and we have had a number of people approach Sophie (who is currently in active discussions with a few interested parties about translating the game to wii or xbox).
Nathan: It was a little bit of both – quite an organic process where I had a world and storyline setup but the programmers needed to somehow fit the game play around it. There was a lot of learning on the job and doing dummy mock-ups for me to re-skin with my Scarygirl world. The game also has 16 levels and many of these have different game play styles so it was like creating a bunch of mini games instead of one big one.
Nathan: There’s a lot of investigation in the game and less about just getting from A – B. Players should journey around the worlds and look out for the way things connect and how characters are not always what they seem to be.
Since the launch in April we have had close to 500 000 plays of the game . People are keen to see part 2 which I feel would make sense if it was part of the console/handheld version.
Nathan: This was really our first experiment on how Scarygirl might look animated. It was done with a lot of love and quite cheap and is just a taste of our direction. We aim to put a lot of research and development into how the film with look but it’s definitely heading in the direction of being a combo of 2D and 3D.
Nathan: The script is being worked on and polished and there’s been visual development happening. We have a bunch of stuff later this year we will be doing on the visuals too.
Nathan: Hmmm…i think her eyepatch may remain a mystery as it’s not really something major except she has a deformity. What will be revealed though is details regarding her arms and Dr Maybee.
Nathan: I would have loved to been there but had some personal issues that needed dealing with.
Nathan: I would love to show something there! (really enjoyed my time in Berlin and if invited would definitely go back).
Nathan: How do you keep so grounded and normal with all the success :)