Edelman UK and Xbox recently teamed up with acclaimed Brighton based artist Iva Troj and Creative Giants to create an epic renaissance-style oil-on-canvas painting to celebrate the launch of Halo Infinite. The finished works are currently on show at two of the most famous galleries in the world; the Saatchi Gallery in London and Carrousel du Louvre in Paris, highlighting that gaming is an art form in itself.
In the coming weeks, the campaign will evolve to generate further reach, as the original artwork will be taken down and split into hundreds of pieces to be shared amongst gaming influencers and collectors, emphasising the truly democratic nature and mass-appeal of digital gaming craft art.
As huge admirers of Iva’s work we got in touch with her to discuss this incredible collaboration and the jaw dropping finished pieces…
Hello Iva, thanks for taking time out to talk about your latest project. So our first question is, how did the Halo collaboration come about?
No problem. Well, basically… I’ve been working with Creative Giants (an artist led creative agency based in Brighton) for a while, proving myself worthy of all sorts of impossible assignments that all demanded a very complex set of skills. An artist that can work in so many different traditional mediums but is also an incurable nerd worthy of a tenant agreement at Sheldon Cooper’s flat is a rare thing I’ve been told 🙂 I love working with Creative Giants because they make me feel safe to do what I can do best. Simon Vaughan, who managed the Halo Masterpiece project, the Task Master commercial and the other assignments I did, is a genius at that. He instinctively knows when it’s time to step in and protect, bring cupcakes or bust balls.
What made you decide to agree to this commission?
I mean… IMAO, when someone gifts you with a once in a lifetime opportunity to take an entire industry to a level where it becomes a recognised art form, you answer the call, no questions asked or you are either an idiot, a coward or just lazy.
Ok fair point 😊
The slightly longer version is, I ended up on the top of that list for 2 main reasons:
1. A rare set of skills. This was a collaboration, so they needed an artist who could create alongside the 343 development team, meaning much of the decision making depended on researching and putting digital paintings together which went back and forth many times until a decision was reached.
Game development is organic and I happen to have an understanding of that (meaning, I’m ok with working in the studio painting during the day and painting digitally during the night. I slept for days after I climbed down the wall at Saatchi for the last time).
2. Painting a giant “masterpiece” worthy of the Halo legacy (and Saatchi Gallery) in just over a month seemed like an impossible thing to do but Simon and I managed to convince everyone involved that I could do it. (Simon deserves so much cred for believing in me although I’m sure his brain was developing all sorts of contingency plans just in case I fell into a ditch somewhere).
I don’t think they immediately believed me though, since it’s frankly impossible until possible 🙂 One of the key people in the client team confessed that they thought I was “just too good to be true” until they came to visit the temporary studio, LOL. After that first visit, there was a new level of understanding of how important it was to work closely and support each-other. They saw me and my tiny team of assistants climb the wall like monkeys working at crazy speed. I’m still in awe of us.
You actually two pieces, right? One at the Saatchi Gallery and one in the Louvre? How did they end up there and are they on permanent display or for a period of time?
Yes. The second piece was commissioned by Xbox France later in the project. It is important to understand that this was a top secret project because any small leak that we were doing this would have jeopardised the whole campaign big time. We were bound by strict NDAs and weren’t even allowed to tell family members what we were doing.
We ended up hiding in plain sight in the middle of game central that is Dice Saloon in Brighton which in itself is hilarious. Any of the people that came to Dice to play would have fainted if they knew what was going on under their very noses which was so funny. The Louvre piece came about in the middle of the project. It’s probably quite hard to keep these things a secret within the company itself. The main painting was always a priority though. I did my best to create something worthy of the Louvre although we only had days to do it. The Saatchi Gallery is hosting the big piece until the 15th. After that it will be cut in pieces which is totally fine with me by the way 🙂 I did a show in 2016 where I did exactly the same as in created a large 3 panel painting that could only be bought in pieces. I’ve always thought that the art world takes itself too seriously and that was my response to that. Besides, it feels more like procreation than death. It is totally what Master Chief would do. I can’t wait to see where the pieces land.
Did they give you free rein on what you painted or were there any guidelines?
There were guidelines but there was also freedom of expression embedded in my contract since I was commissioned to create a piece “in my own original style”. I love that they wanted me to paint something that was mine as much as theirs. This is how you set the foundation for something to become a true labour of love. The restrictions here were the best possible really. They came from the respect we all feel for the Halo legacy.
Halo is such a big part of many childhoods. We were told many stories along the way and it only made the responsibility bigger, in the greatest possible way.
Are these the largest paintings you’ve created?
The masterpiece painting at Saatchi is 6×3 meters (20×10 feet) and the one in the Louvre is half its size. The main piece is the biggest I’ve ever painted. The biggest I’ve done before that was 12×6 feet.
Are there any future plans for more or any other collabs you can share with us?
I seem to always be working under NDAs nowadays so I can’t talk about anything until completed but I can tell you that there are plans that may involve even bigger challenges. Next year is looking really interesting. I’d love to do more work with Xbox. These collaborations are rarely so smooth. It takes a truly remarkable team so a big thank you and much love to Edelman UK and Xbox UK for being such an imaginative, supportive and all round great partner.