Ingo Mesche looks back at a wide range of projects with clients ranging from NASA to UNICEF, and invented the initial graphics for a video game character with more than 100 Mio downloads.
With a strong background in Demoscene, Ingo is a well-known character in the gaming and digital art space for decades. The artist’s life’s work consists of an interesting range of genres due to his versatile skill set, while his constant creative output is impressing people around the globe until today.
Ingo has recently released a brand new collection of 12 unique characters: The Archetypes.
Given Ingo’s background, his willingness to explore and get his feet wet with the NFT world shows that non-fungible tokens are much more than a passing fad.
How, in the first place, did you get involved in the video gaming industry, was it your childhood dream or more like a coincidence?
A bit of both … working in the “early days” of computer graphics one had to be interested in video games automatically, as the first uses of computer graphics were mainly used for entertainment/games.
It was all very limited, and one had to cope at that time with all the restrictions given by the computer hardware. So the basic interest in the video game world was there before I coincidently came in contact with the “real deal”. I copied in the old days’ styles of videogames and tried to make new title screens for games I liked thinking how they might look better etc.
During my “Praktikum” (the German internship) in a Computer Store, one of the clients found out that I was into computer graphics and during our conversation, he told me that he was a “professional” game developer on the commodore c64…so, I ended up doing the graphics for my first real video game. The game was supposed to be released under the label “Rainbow Arts” but all of a sudden, while I was halfway through the game graphics, the programmer vanished … literally gone. I noticed at that time that there were, and still are some really weird people in the video game world.
If you were to name the things that had the major influence over your work and art, what would they be? (this could be video games, books, movies, comics, whatever)
First and foremost an Artist called “Roger Dean”, I loved everything he did and designed.
Besides all the art, he did he created the logo of what is, in my opinion, the best game developer of that time: “Psygnosis”, such a pity they closed down.
Another designer, who unfortunately passed away recently is Syd Mead… whatever he designed was fascinating and all his work is very much the top of the top there was and still is for me. Also: Brian Froud, Dough Chiang, ah there are really many. As IPs I would say Starwars / Tron / Labyrinth / Alien / Dark crystal and … Sci-Fi and Fantasy.
I own many books with their art and makings etc, they don’t even fit into the bookshelves anymore and someday I will have to sort them all. They are huge source of inspiration for me. One other influence over my work and art is music… I get really inspired by music when I work … really.
Is your creative process structured or rather more fluid? Are you a Stephen King’s like creator, that is, do you have some sort of daily routine in your creative process?
Throughout the years one could say it is very structured. That’s mainly because working often in a team on a game and with programmers, one has to be structured not to block anyone else in the process of the bigger picture everyone is working on.
But, when it is just me then I think it is very fluid. I like to try out new styles, try to incorporate whatever is possible to get to a result. When I work for myself it often happens that the picture takes over at a point and I follow what happens on the “canvas” …
I see structures appearing over time which inspire me to get into new directions and then I start to see the design/picture as a “third” person and detach myself from it and try to improve what I see as if I was working on someone else’s work. It’s a strange feeling sometimes when time passes and the creative process happens very automatically until I just happen to see the “final” result.
As I think for everyone who is creative… My work is never really ready but there comes the time I have to let go, this is completely different from work which I do on-demand, there everything is being done in a very structured manner and I know pretty much from the very beginning how the final work should look like and I just go through all the steps to achieve the final goal.
Compared to when you first started, how would you describe the contemporary video gaming industry?
I think the word “freedom” is the one that best captures it. Like today we have “pixel artists”, whereas in the past working with pixels was just a result of the limitations we had.
We had just low resolutions, limited color palettes, and simple tools to draw. I was proud to get the impression of a 32 color picture even though I used just 16 with the same resolutions, there was no automatic multisample antialiasing, each pixel, and their neighboring pixels had to be planned.
I had to do all the antialiasing by hand and when I animated the pixel shade made a big difference to simulate “half frames and higher resolutions in animations”. I don’t want to get too technical but I could write books about all this.
So the freedom today is in not there being limitations anymore, I mean, there are some but compared to the past it is paradise now.
No limitations in resolution and color depth, in 3D I don’t have to wait a weekend or a week, or a month to see that my rendering is all black because I forgot to switch on a light.
Today real-time graphics are fast enough to do in real-time what took ages in the past, now with the “epics” new unreal 5 engine, artists don’t even have to look out for polygon count anymore. Compared to the past the present environment is the land of freedom.
Let’s talk about NFTs, did they prompt you to find new ways of expressing your art, work? Do you think they can empower artists?
In my opinion, NFTs don’t really offer me any new ways to express my art. What NFTs do is rather enable new ways to get art to collectors with the main advantage being that it protects the artists.
NFTs allow authenticating artworks as being the “original thing” which is new for digital work. Up to now, digital copies could be produced en masse and an artist had to live with the idea that anyone can make a 100% alike copy of his/her work, not just one but limitless copies, every one of them is as good as the original, it was not possible to distinguish the original from the copy anymore.
This all changed with NFTs. Now there is one verifiable original as any copy doesn’t have this “certificate”. So an original can be identified as the original which obviously raises the value for the owner. It’s like owning an original Picasso and everyone understands that the original has a tremendous amount of value which a copy has not. Finally, this has happened in the digital realm too and as we are in the digital world it has even more advantages for the artists.
So yes, it empowers any digital artist who makes use of NFTs and this is just the beginning of it all, there are already new concepts like dynamic NFTs, or imagine just how future ID cards or Passports will be authenticated. There will be many more use cases of NFTs and artists will just benefit from this.
Where did the idea for “The Archetypes” characters come from?
The archetypes’ character ideas came mainly through the basic definitions of the different character classes. I wanted to create some characters which are typical representations of the Archetypes. I started with the Wizard, a classic representation one would expect to see, an old man with a long beard in his robes. I realized that it might go in the wrong direction, and I started to mix genres a bit and tried to come up with different archetypes from what you would expect to see.
So I created the Siamese oracle representing the “Sage” or the Automatron “Jester” who is a machine character or Ulric the Shadow-warrior who is representing the hero class but is himself a dark mysterious character. The first series will have 12 different archetypes, I have plans for sets to follow which will be even more exotic.
What are your thoughts on digital collectibles?
I think before NFTs existed in the art world the concept of digital collectibles was far away from what it truly should have been.
Now it all makes sense, thanks to there being an actual value for digital goods.
I think the value of collectibles will regulate itself over time. In Germany, we have a saying: “wird sich die Spreu vom Weizen trennen” which means that eventually only really valuable collectibles will stay, and all the rest will just vanish.
Collectors will be able to build up real value with their collections. Items will gain value over time and will be exchanged or traded. I think the NFT standard opens so many possibilities and new opportunities for artists.
Personally, it allows me to work on several collections which I dreamt of years ago. The archetypes are the first collectibles but a completely different approach will be my NFT Sperms which will be available in the “SpermBank” (stay tuned for this!). A lot of work and effort is going into this project and I hope that collectors will have fun to own and collect my NFT babies. Sperms NFTs will take over the crypto scene!
What would you like to see in the NFT Art world in the next years?
As mentioned, I think we are currently just scratching the tip of the iceberg of what will be possible later on. NFTs will revolutionize how we own and share creative, virtual content, be it music, art, in-game assets up to any customization options in games, etc.
Once VR and AR will become mainstream, people will start to wear and use virtual assets in real life. Virtual add-ons will be visible for everyone with their fashionable and hardly noticeable M-R/X Glasses, connected to the cloud. Virtual Art will be not a niche but it will rather be the dominant form of art.
We are still far away from that scenario though, VR/AR/MR glasses are still awkwardly obvious when you wear them and even the best options still need to be tethered.
The idea of a shared VR/AR universe doesn’t exist yet. I wish to go out and see in real-time with perfect tracking the coolest new virtual shoes overlayed on my sons’ feet because he owns the latest virtual NFT shoes. I should be able to see this not just because I got the correct app, no, it must be a standard that will just work and allow me to see this shared universe with whatever VR/AR glasses I am going to use in the future.
Do you have an older-looking car? Buy a new Virtual NFT car and it will be overlayed on the old one. So, whenever you go to your car you will see through your glasses the best designed virtual car one can afford. And of course, everyone will be able to see you driving it and all the other virtual cars replacing reality around you ( if you want to ). The virtual world will be part of our reality and shortly one will hardly be able to imagine how we lived without it in the past.
Currently, NFTs only live on your computer, I hope that there will be standards to showcase NFTs.
Nowadays, when I create an animated NFT I have no real idea what resolution should I use best. Shall I save them as GIFs? Or better MP4s? Shall I save it horizontally so it can be seen on a screen or better save it vertically so it fits on a rotated screen, etc.
Right now there are no standards which is, of course, a nice thing too but I am wondering if that cannot be done better before we have all our perfect small MR glasses.
What is nice is that any serious NFT ART created and bought now, will be future-proof and its value will go up in the same way fine art does. In the future, we will have better ways to exhibit and enjoy them. That’s what I am mainly looking forward to so that the virtual NFT Art world will leap another gigantic step forward. Can’t really wait for it!
Thank you, Ingo. Crypto art is opening new worlds, and you opened your world for us, by doing this interview, and actively using NFTs! Splendid times, creative times, enjoy, and thank you for sharing all these insights with our readers!
Explore more: Artist profile at VisionaryArt.io: INGO MESCHE