Barold by Amy Liu
Though the community simulation game Animal Crossing has been around since 2001, it saw a surge in mid-2013 and is seeing a fresh influx of love from the online community this year.
To have some fun with the game's various characters, Nina B created an Animal Crossing collab (an online artist collaboration, whereby Twitter and Tumblr's artistic denizens are invited to contribute illustrations to a themed project) that has grown quite popular. It should go without saying that participants' contributions have been dreadfully adorable.
I recently interviewed Nina B about her collab and love of Katamari Damacy. To see more art from this project, swing by Nina's Animal Crossing Collaboration blog on Tumblr.
Simone Collins (SC): What inspired you to kick off a collab oriented around Animal Crossing?
Nina B. (NB): I was definitely inspired by other collaborations that were popping up at the same time! The first one I heard about (and joined) was the Final Fantasy Artphabet (by @paperbeatstweet) and it took off from there! Suddenly collabs seemed to be surrounding me.
Kid Cat by Gene Goldstein
SC: Why do you think Animal Crossing in particular has become such a beloved game?
NB: Animal crossing is so unique and cute, and I think those are the big draws. Each new version is getting better too, which is sometimes hard to accomplish with a series. I'm still amazed at how much New Leaf has! I've had it since launch and I still haven't gotten everything, and probably never will. New Leaf also really got better with the social aspect. It's not perfect, but I've never gotten to play with so many people before and I love it.
SC: Have you encountered any surprises while coordinating this collab?
NB: My first big surprise was realizing the number of spots I had to fill. Over 500! I really didn't know how many villagers the game had, and I didn't give it too much thought before I started. The second surprise was how many people flocked to it when it was first announced. I don't have a ton of followers, even less at the time, so I didn't think anyone would hear about it outside friends. And maybe the best surprise were the number of people with nice things to say about it! Sure I've gotten a couple folks with other things to say, but they are so few and far between it's easy to ignore. The bad ones aren't even that bad, to be honest.
SC: Do you think collabs are a fad, or are they here to stay?
NB: They're so new, it's hard to say. I'd like to think they'd stick around! I feel though that they might wane when all the "good ideas" get taken, but there's really a lot that can be done with it. I haven't seen many variations on the standard "pick character, draw character" theme yet either.
SC: Could you tell me a bit more about your background as an artist?
NB: I started out drawing on my own as a kid, and was lucky enough to have a family that encouraged my talent. I didn't really start taking real art classes until community college, and later I moved on to an art school and majored in animation.
SC: How does your involvement with collabs affect your career as professional artist and webcomic creator?
NB: At this point I'd say it hasn't affected me too much, honestly. I've gotten a few more followers, so maybe my art or webcomic gets a few more views. Most people seem to be interested in the collab, which I expected.
SC: Has your social media activity (e.g. involvement in collabs and engagement in general online banter) ever lead to new professional opportunities, or is it more a fun way to stay sharp, be connected with the community, and/or unwind?
NB: Sadly, no job opportunities have come up as a result. Again, at this point I haven't gotten much out of it for myself. I think people want Animal Crossing, not necessarily me. And that's okay! That's why I haven't really advertised my personal Tumblr or Twitter on the AC Collab Tumblr, because it's not really about me. So I'd definitely say it's more about fun!