In His Own Words: Video Game Posters!

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Justin Russo — self-described “graphic designer and major nerd” — creates simple, graphic interpretations of popular video games like Bioshock and Super Mario Brothers. His Video Game Posters! project, which will help him turn the images into full-sized posters, blew us away when it reached its funding goal within just a few hours of launch. Intrigued, we dropped Justin a line to ask about success, his inspirations, and how he turned Mario’s overalls into art. Check out what he has to say below, support his project here.

“For the most part, I came up with the idea from just playing a lot of video games. I’m a graphic designer by trade so I’m an inherently visual person, and video games totally appeal to that, especially games like Bioshock and Uncharted 2. They’re simply beautiful.

As a creative person, I’m always looking for inspiration everywhere, and there is one particular moment in Bioshock when you walk into this decimated room and there’s graffiti scrawled on the ground. It says “Aesthetics are a moral imperative.” I have never seen such a clear definition of what art and creativity have meant to me for my whole life. That shook me to the core truthfully. I started to think of how I could possibly pay tribute to a medium that I stand in awe of. The answer was obvious, make some art.

I’m a big fan of arranging shapes and objects and getting measurements perfect (on a computer at least). I’m an even bigger fan of simplicity. So I had to think of what I wanted to say and say in the most simple, clear terms possible. While I didn’t actively try to emulate the look of posters by a heavy weight like Olly Moss, seeing his work definitely made me realize what the poster medium could still do.”

Inspired by The Big Daddy from Bioshock
This is the first one I created and it quite literally came to me in a dream. I woke up with it fully realized in my head, I even came up with the process, step-by-step, while sleeping. I tried to condense the complexity of the Big Daddy down to its barest essentials. Obviously the glowing portholes needed to be shown, while simple lines and circles could represent the hulking armor. The quote I chose really boiled down what the game meant to me, I won’t spoil it, but it’s an extremely relevant phrase in the world that Bioshock creates.
Inspired by Old Snake from Metal Gear Solid 4
I bought Metal Gear Solid 4 after being not too heavily interested in the series since the first Metal Gear Solid. The look and attitude just sold me though. It’s an extremely well written game so it wasn’t too hard to find a suitable quote, but it was hard to a) pick which outfit of Old Snake’s to use and b) figure out how to codense the chosen look down to its simplest form. I opted to go with the outfit that he’s seen in most often, and through trial and plenty of error, I figured out a way to boil down the complex military look.

Inspired by Isaac Clarke from Dead Space

I absolutely love this game. I’ve never been a survival horror guy, but the setting of this game totally sold me. I’m a sucker for almost anything having to do with space, add an element of creepiness to it and I’m in. This is another example of trying to simplify a complex character design. The in-game character model of Isaac Clarke is gorgeous, so like the others, I kept it simple and used the ribbing effect on his chest. Most people know him for his helmet, but I thought his entire suit was just as awesome.
Inspired by Mario from all of the Mario games
This one was actually kind of a joke. Because I had done these two posters based on these modern, graphically-intensive games. But it was pretty easy to figure out, the most difficult part being finding an appropriate quote. Since Mario tends not to talk as much, not nearly as much as Nathan Drake, there wasn’t much to work with. I settled on “Here We Go…” because I could just hear Mario yelling that in my head. I also considered “It’s ah-me…” or something about the princess being in another castle. “Here We Go…” just seemed to say “Oh here we go with another silly poster” and represent the character at the same time.
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