Revatar is a fascinating, pleasant man, harbouring little to no racist or sexist views, and it appears he is on a one-man mission to draw the entire UK games industry.
As he begins his hundredth Revatar, I decided it was time to delve behind the pencils to find out what makes him tick, and just what it’s all about.
He tells me that it started as experiment, “If I could offer something unique and one of a kind, how far could I reach with it?” The answer, it seems, is pretty far. From most of our Editorial staff, to the likes of Simon Miller of Videogamer, Shut Up and Sit Down’s Matt Lees, Quentin Smith, and Paul Dean – and many more since. But he quickly turned his hand to the PR world, drawing all round good egg, famous Dog Lover, and owner of a nice face, Ian Dickson of Lick PR.
But who was the first Revatar, and why? Turns out it was Richard Stanton, “because of exposure“. Makes sense, I tell him, Stanton is a great, well known writer. “I needed to get someone who was nice enough to say ‘why not?’, but that would also put it out there for others to see, once it was done”. This also makes sense, and I start to wonder if he might be a marketing genius, and if he’s available for work.
“I said that I would not take payment”, he continues, “and that I would draw whatever I was asked to do”. Did anyone ever offer to pay him? “Yes, quite a few people have offered to cover postage or send a donation”. But he always refused, suggesting that “the only thing I ever received was a wonderful comic, and two games from someone I never even drew.”
From someone he didn’t even draw? “Yeah, someone who told me they thought my drawing people for free was great, and that they deserved something back”.
Revatar is a private man, and you’ll notice that I’m not referring to him by name, as he wants to keep his private life and art-dog life separate. “I want to keep the mystery. Here’s this person who draws for free! What are they getting from it? It messes with people’s heads”.
“I start with the body, and then just a circle for the head. Then I pencil the body in, the face and features, then ink it when I’m happy. It takes about 3-4 hours for each picture”. Doing the math, three hours per person, when you’ve done one hundred people is a fucking lot of hours. “When you put it like that, four hundred hours… but think about how much time people waste on the TV? I draw during lunch and at night, and I really like drawing. This gives me an excuse to draw. Though, yeah, it’s completely destroyed my gaming time.”
“But think about it: every single person that has a Revatar is the only owner of that Revatar.” Interesting… “In this mass produced world, how many times can you say you own something that nobody else will have? I don’t scan anything, and they aren’t perfect, but I’ve seen people frame them! Other people have them on their desks at work, and I get genuine messages of thanks. That’s cool, and makes every single one of them worth it”
So Revatar is a bit of a romantic, then? “It’s just that, if I monetise them, it takes away from what they are. They become a commodity. You get a different attitude from people if they are paying for it. Suddenly they demand X amount of pounds of work. If I charge £40 per picture, I wouldn’t have done a hundred of them.”
But he’s not answering my question, is he a romantic? “I think that people don’t do enough for other people for the sake of doing it”. We can definitely agree there, the selfless gene seems to be skipping generations these days, and it’s perhaps what drew me to Revatar in the first place: this guy seems nice.
“I’m doing this for free. No. I’m doing this for smiles”.
And they are coming. I’ve not seen anyone complain yet, or suggest they didn’t like his artistic interpretation of them. “Some people have not wanted me to send their picture, but that might just be a privacy thing. As someone suggests, perhaps I’m building a list of people to kill in the industry, though others suggest I’ll eventually end up drawing everyone.”
Having beaten around the bush for long enough, it’s probably time to find out why he chose “Revatar” as the name for his brand, or why he is an art-dog. “I used to own a dog called Revel”. Oh, well that isn’t exactly Van-Gogh cutting his ear off, Rev… “Sorry, it just made sense to combine Revel and Avatar. Then Revatar was born!”
As a relative outsider to the games industry, however, I ponder on what he may make of it the industry. “I still think it’s very young. It’s funny, because it’s finding its feet at the same time that it defines the future of how people interact.” Ever the gentleman, but I want to know what he thinks of the people. “You get a mixture of people who are very passionate about their subject matter, and those that take it too seriously.”
Speaking of taking it seriously, at the risk of ending our discussion early, I have to ask him: just who has been his favourite drawing to date? “There’s two…”, good, hedging your bets there, “Sam White as Lara Croft”, go on, carefully… “and you as Red from Transistor.” So just to be clear, drawing me – a portly (and that’s being kind), tall man, as a woman. That was one of your favourites? He laughs, “I like the colours, and how it turned out”. I thought about burning it, like it was some piece of evidence from a horrific crime scene, for what it’s worth. “I also like the Marshall Julius one I drew, because like the others, they turned out well, without too much work.”
This industry really isn’t that bad. Revatar proves that there are nice people out there if we choose to let them into our little club. He reminds me that it can be fun, and that despite our differences, most of us are here, doing this thing because we love games.
And, thanks to him, his talents and his kindness, I got to present my wife with an anniversary gift she’ll never forget this year: an artist, naked and (standing) proud. He’d appreciate that joke, and so should you – lighten up, it’s just games.
Chat to Revatar on Twitter, and maybe ask him to draw you. I bet he will.