An Interview With “The Great Showdowns” Artist Scott Campbell

Recently I had the opportunity to talk with artist Scott Campbell about his book “The Great Showdowns”, and a little bit about movies and being an art director for Double Fine.

Mr. Campbell’s book “The Great Showdowns” is a great book filled with drawings from what he believes to be the greatest showdown between two characters or two things in a particular movie. None of the drawings tell you what movie it is, so it creates a sort of group game/activity where you can work together with people to figure out what movie each drawing represents.

Check out the interview below.

Never Not a Nerd: First off, when you’re Googled you’re the second Scott Campbell that comes up. That’s a bummer man. What are your plans to “take the other guy down?”

Scott Campbell : There are 4 powerful Scott Campbell artists at the top of google search.  I have not met the tattoo Scott Campbell, but many of my friends are friends with him.  I need to chat with all these guys because I have a dream.  That dream is to have an art exhibition called “THE SCOTT CAMPBELLS”.  It would be the greatest show.  We are all quite different.  The other two Scott Campbells make comics with sexy ladies and sweet gig posters respectively.

NNAN : You’ve done a lot of these showdowns drawings. Did you have to leave a lot out of this book? Was it like only being able to rescue 100 of your favorite cats out of a burning cat building?

Scott Campbell : Well, I figured I could go rescue some other cats later.  Maybe collect them into a second book. Those cats are all just writhing around, having a good time in there. If they are not chosen this time around, there is always hope for those cats the next time.  It’s not a terrible fire anyway.  They have nothing to fear.

NNAN : Do you think you’ll release another book in the future?

Scott Campbell : Yes!  I hope to release all kinds! I like the idea of them being little artifacts that you can collect.  There has always been a collection vibe to the Showdowns.

NNAN : When you’re watching a movie that you haven’t done a showdown for are you then always looking for that moment, or characters to draw, because you feel a compulsion to “draw them all”?

Scott Campbell : Unfortunately yes.  I often have that looming question of what would a sweet showdown be here, as I watch films.  I try not to, but I can’t help it.  But it’s ok.  I still enjoy them.  It’s probably how a movie critic feels while watching movies or a food critic.  Always picking them apart.  I wonder if they truly enjoy them.  maybe they do.  I sat along with a food critic one time and we ordered a whole bunch of food and I loved everything.  But she had a furrowed brow the whole time and took lot’s of notes.  Can’t be that great of a time.

NNAN : What are your favorite movies? (you will be judged. No pressure)

Scott Campbell : Star Wars: A New Hope, The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, City Of Lost Children, Royal Tenenbaums, Boogie Nights, Planet Of The Apes, A Fistful Of Dollars, Raiders Of The Lost Ark, Dr. Strangelove

NNAN : You were an art director at Double Fine, nice job with the games you worked on by the way. I’m pretty sure you don’t do that job anymore, so, why is being an art director on a video game such a pain in the ass? Or do you just love being your own boss?

Scott Campbell : Heh.  I had a great time at Double Fine and i still work for them on a freelance basis.  I have been creating concepts for their new Kickstarter adventure game in fact.  Art directing is super fun in a lot of ways, but the managing of people part is what I do not care for too much.  I love working with people on projects.  An awesome team of creative people is a splendid thing.   On Brutal Legend, my role sort of changed to a Production Designer role.  I oversaw the pre production and basic style and rules for the look of the game and Lee Petty stepped in to take control of the whole ship and make that game a reality.  He is very good at that and he has amazing taste.  I like inspiring people to make sweet stuff and get their minds flowing.  I don’t like budgeting their time out and making sure they are on schedule.  There is definitely more control in making one’s own books and paintings.  Directing a game is like painting a painting by holding someone’s else’s hand that is holding the brush and it can get frustrating.  But it should not be like that.  Real great art directing is identifying the strengths of everyone and respecting their skills enough to allow them to create their own amazing things based on the moods and inspiration that you have established for the project! I hear David Lynch is really good at encouraging the actors interpret concepts themselves.  I think that is why he gets such amazing performances in his films.

NNAN : Crap, I almost forgot. I have spent a considerable amount of time(seriously, it has been considered) by myself and with others staring at certain pages of your book trying to will my brain into telling me what movie it is. Are the names not included anywhere for legal reasons? Or did you think it’d be a fun sort of game trying to figure some out? Either way, are you happy your book can be presented as a group activity?

Scott Campbell : I LOVE the game aspect to the Great Showdowns.  I like making people guess and encouraging discussions.  I enjoy games and puzzles myself.  My family has always played family games quite often for years.  For the Showdowns, we will probably post the answers online at some point, but I am sure people will post their own breakdowns and compare lists!  That is an exciting part of the community I think.   My favorite thing about art shows is watching people laugh and point and show each other things that they discover in my work.  I like laying those pieces out for them and it is one of the most satisfying experiences for me to see happen.

NNAN : Thanks for your time Scott.

Scott Campbell : Thank you!  I enjoyed this chat.

There you go. Scott Campbell is a really nice guy, and his book is awesome. Go buy a copy of it. You can check out his website here. Or you can just Google him. He’s now the top Scott Campbell in Google search, but I’m not going to take any credit for that.


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