One of the cornerstone's of Fortnite's success is Epic Games' constant effort to continue evolving the Fortnite experience, and by extension, creating a thriving community full of players, creatives, cosplayers, and even parents of the next professional gamer. One of the most recent initatives introduced to the Fortnite community was the Fortnite Spray Contest. Members of the community were encouraged to submit their designs, with one design being chosen to be a new in-game spray.
United States-based artist Andrew Ferris won the Fortnite Spray Contest with a Meowscles-inspired spray that is now available in game. Ferris spoke to Inven Global's Nick Geracie about winning the Fortnite Spray Contest, his artistic background, and to give advice to fellow artists creating for video games.
Thanks for joining me, Ferris, and congratulations on winning the Fortnite Spray Contest. How did you get involved in the competition?
I'm really invested in the Fortnite community and what Epic Games is putting out. Whenever contests or other creative Fortnite events to highlight artists occur, I am always in the loop. When Epic Games straight up announced a Fortnite spray art contest through its Twitter account, pretty much everybody I knew hit my line and were like, 'Ferris, you've gotta enter this,' and I was like, '...I've got to enter this!'
So you submitted the design, and then they named you the winner after a few weeks? What was the process of finding out that you won?
That's where things get a little cloudy for me. I did my spray on the first day of the contest. It really didn't take me that long to do, it was maybe two hours before I had it ready to go. I submitted that day, and since it was a Twitter-based contest, you just submit your design by posting it with the hashtag #FortniteSprayContest. It started snowballing and getting a lot of momentum, and they were supposed to contact the winner through Twitter at some point, but I was never contacted.
I didn't mind not being contacted — it wasn't a big deal or some cash prize or anything that was time-sensitive — but I had no idea. *Laughs* I actually found out via file leaks before the announcement itself, but the process was pretty much watching it snowball through Twitter and getting notes from people in the community who were spreading it around. It kind of just took off from there. Laughs
That's a very Fortnite way to find out you won a contest, but at least they tagged you properly in the tweet! Can you talk to me a bit more about your spray design that won the competition?
Oh, for sure. It was specifically stated in the event page that they wanted a spray that revolved around Fortnite Chapter 2, Season 2. Season 2 was focused on the spy theme and picking sides, so I wanted to do something that highlighted a Battle Pass skin since those skins are the highlights of each season.
However, I also wanted to do something that reflected the events within the season to show that I am someone who actually plays the game and follows what is going on in Fortnite. I wasn't just submitting for the sake of competition — I am an active Fortnite player, I've enjoyed the lore that's been spun out, and I love the characters. Epic dubbed it "I sits" which has Shadow Meowscles sitting on a cardboard box.
After the Fortnite x Deadpool collaboration, Shadow Meowscles was pushed off of his yacht on the map and was sentenced to the cardboard box factory on the other side of the map. You can find him there walking and crying around a mountain of boxes, so I took that whole idea of him being a cat and sitting in a cardboard box. All my cats do is sit in cardboard boxes, so I just ran with that idea and spun it into him looking upset to fit with his lore, and I guess I knocked it out of the park.
The result speaks for itself, but I'm glad you highlighted that you're an active member of the Fortnite community and how that played into your success. How does the everchanging nature of Fortnite lend itself to creating such an active community?
I would say the community is everything in Fortnite. People talk about how bad gaming communities are, and every community is going to have people that are not the best, but I think Fortnite's community is very, very strong.
To tie back with what you were saying about the game being constantly updated, I think that Fortnite didn't change as much as it has been then it would have dropped forever ago. I don't think anyone would still be talking about it, but because they put in the effort and the polish. Fortnite is also still putting out bimonthly updates even with the pandemic going on, which is insane.
The team behind Fortnite is bringing the content in the forms of tons of character designs, changes to the map, aesthetics, weapons, and items that account for someone's style of play. There is always something new to offer, and because of that fact, a lot of people are brought to the game. There's always something new you can show off to your friends. I've had plenty of friends who I've shown a cool skin or items, and I've gotten them to play with me because of that.
The cross-platform, free to play accessibility of Fortnite is also huge in keeping the community alive. You have players on mobile, a lot of younger players via Nintendo Switch, your hardcore gamers running the game at 144 FPS on their PCs, and you have your slightly more casual competitive types on PS4 and Xbox One.
There is such a wide spectrum across the Fortnite, and that feeds into the community become its own living, breathing thing. I think the fact that the game is always everchanging and continues to expand its support is also adding to that.
Is Fortnite where you got your start as a professional artist, or were you creating before the game?
I've pretty much drawn for my entire life. Ever since kindergarten I have been the art kid who is always drawing, drawing, drawing. I got into a fine arts high school, and that is when I started taking my art seriously. In attending that school, it felt like art was my thing because I was specifically attending a school because of my art. I went to art school for a little bit, but art school is art school...so that ended up not working out.
I've always loved drawing and getting to create things for my friends and myself. I love creating my own universes, but I am also very inspired by video games and the design work that goes into them. The characters and art present in games has always heavily inspired me, especially Halo and Metal Gear Solid. I've always been very into tactical art. Yoji Shinkawa, the lead Metal Gear designer, has an incredible style with a lot of high-energy stuff.
Those have been my inspirations over the years, and around 2016, I started taking freelance commissions on the side while working a day job. In 2019 I have been leaning into doing freelance commissions as my full time job. It's been a steady ramp up into my art now, and I'm always learning and getting better.
I started playing Fortnite around Chapter 1, Season 5 in 2018. Fortnite is one of the most aesthetically pleasing games I have ever touched. The design work is great, and there is always a ton of talented people working on it. The game is always pleasant to look at, and since I'm a character illustrator, so many skins have been made that I've just become obsessed with, especially the Battle Pass skins.
Fortnite definitely kicked up my drive to draw a bit, especially once I got a creator code and was able to create content for the game in a sense. I took off by drawing a lot of Fortnite skins or things associated with in-game events. Drawing for Fortnite isn't my main schtick, but it's something I enjoy doing that inspires me.
If Epic Games does another one of these types of Fortnite competition, would you participate to defend your title, so to speak?
It depends on the type of contest. If it's another spray contest, I will probably sit out. I had a lot of other friends who did amazing pieces for this content, and there were a lot of great entries from talented people. I'd like to see some of those go into the game alongside my design, so I'd probably leave that open for other people.
However, if Epic did something along the lines of a skin contest or something else cosmetic, I think I would like to enter. As a character illustrator, I think a contest like that would be natural for me to try out for.
What's some advice you would give to artists trying to create for a video game while still maintaining their own style?
That is a very good question, and it's kind of a tough one to answer because just one thing is hard to decide upon in terms of recommending something for people starting out. I guess my biggest thing would be that you have to do it a lot. You're going to draw a lot of things that you don't like until you start drawing things that you do like.
I have been drawing semi-professionally since 2015 when I first started taking real money to do my work, but I didn't get to a point where I started not to hate everything I drew until about early 2019. That's a point where I can still look back and see my strengths and things I like in my pieces, but to get there, you have to keep at it and keep learning. If you stop doing it, you won't get better. If you get frustrated and say you're bad at it, you won't get better.
It's about knowing what or who inspires you and looking at what those artists are doing. Don't copy off of them, trace, or try to pass of their work as your own, but study them and what they are doing. Look at their shapes and their colors. You can even recreate their work as an exercise in practice, just don't post it or try to pass it off as your own.
I think it's important for you to find your inspirations, take energy from them, and ride that drive into making sure you're producing a consistent, steady flow of your own work. Even if you don't like your work, keep doing it. There will be a point where you start to like it.