Ever since I can remember, I was one of those kids with some tool to draw with in my hands. Mythical creatures, robots and, of course, dinosaurs were strewn, in one form or another, all over my room... and marched across my walls. I never really thought I would be exploring that same world of symbolism and imagination as I grew into an adult. But as fate would have it, I've had the tremendous fortune to turn my passion into a living through creating artwork for novels, video games, and feature films.
I've traveled to many places in the world, but there will always be a part of me that's connected to my home state of California. California is a world hub for everything artistic and spiritual as well as everything extreme and ridiculous. Growing up in and living throughout the naturally and culturally diverse Golden State has certainly ingrained in me many valuable lessons. When it comes to my career as an artist, a couple of the most important lessons were to understand that everyone is entitled to their own ideas and that imagination is a commodity. Whether it was my proximity to Hollywood or my love for epic fantasies, it was quite clear from a young age that my trajectory would take me to some facet of the entertainment industry.
Like a lightning bolt, unusual fortune struck just as I started my professional life when I was introduced to a fledgling video game company called Oddworld Inhabitants. After that, nothing would be the same. Working with and learning from such talented and disciplined artists made me realize the real potential of art in what I came to see as its highest form - Art as storytelling.
Over the next eight years, I worked on all four video games under the Oddworld name in any artistic capacity I could weasel my way into. From conceptual design to cinematic art direction to marketing development, trial by fire in the commercial world was my art school. My work outside of Oddworld flourished as well with many illustrations for fantasy and science fiction book covers, comic books, magazines, tattoos, snowboards, cds, or anything to feed my love of expression. I also continued to learn about the potential of art and storytelling from the teachings of visionaries such as Joseph Campbell and Alex Grey. All the while, the evolution of my artistic direction became clear. If I wanted to change the world, I had to reach an ever larger number of people. I needed my art to cross borders and social classes. I simply needed to tell stories... through film.
Fortunately for me, films were not only on my mind. As I had always known, the creators of the Oddworld universe also intended to take the leap towards film, and in 2005, the time was right. As we closed down production on video games for the time being, we started up our development of feature film storylines. Carrying through the themes of spirituality, consumerism and political exploitation, the films continue much of the momentum started with the Oddworld games.
As the planet presses on into a multi-cultural future where the population gets bigger as the world seems to get smaller, storytelling will only become more important as the language spoken by all. Stories are the voice of the world and I hope to learn to use that voice to ignite my own awareness and to help open the minds of others along the way.
-Raymond Swanland February, 2007
All artwork © 2005 Raymond Swanland unless otherwise stated.