We all have our own personal routines after we’ve started up our computers. Some of us go right for the email; some of us peruse a news service of choice; others will scan Facebook or Twitter for any mentions or trends. I have a new “first visit” site: Rampaged Reality, lovingly built and curated by the designer Justin “Rampage” Page.
Put simply, Rampaged Reality is fan art writ large. Page has put an extraordinary effort into regularly (several times a day) collecting, assembling, and publicizing a huge variety of art inspired by geek culture. These gorgeous, hilarious, and unique pieces depict everything from comic book-video game mash-ups, to Star Wars-influenced propaganda posters, to the collision of internet memes with the explosive visuals of manga and anime. This is a site where no geek icon is sacred, nor taken too seriously to be spun a thousand different colourful ways.
Take, for instance, the following image: Vincent Carrozza’s “Alien Silly Walks”:
This playful fusion of the classic Monty Python sketch with the terrifying silhouette of H. R. Giger’s famous creature is a beautiful example of what you’ll find on Page’s Tumblr site: an unholy, irreverent take on what makes geeks tick. And therein lies the genius of Page’s site: he’s tapped into a rich “meta-geek” vein, one with a vocabulary that stretches across generations and genres. Rampaged Reality is, in so many ways, a purely internet-based creature, made possible only by the rapid transmission of geek-code between dozens of discrete, but associated circles of interest.
And it’s clearly registering with those circles. Within minutes of posting any new image, the “notes” and “likes” begin pouring in. Page has made sure to funnel that interest to the artists themselves: a consummate documenter, he ensures that the name of the artist, and their websites, are given due credit. He’s also taken things a step further and has moved to support those artists’ livelihoods, directing Rampaged Reality visitors to an online store where they might purchase a t-shirt or print of the image.
Justin Page took some time to answer some of my questions, on the heels of a busy schedule that also includes launching his own online store.
Tell me about how your Tumblr website got started, and how it’s grown.
JP: The blog began as a place for me to just collect inspiring artwork and build a spot to promote artwork a little easier for myself. I quickly fell in love with helping other artists out and getting the word out about their designs. I didn’t really do much in the beginning as much as crediting and such, but Ryan Penagos (Agent M) at Marvel slapped me around about it. Ever since then, I have been determined to dig up every piece of credit for the artist that I can find. I met a lot of great people / bloggers along the way that have helped me shape how I do things today. I don’t make any money off the blog, I just have a passion for doing this as a hobby.
You’re working overtime to promote independent artists and designers on your site. What was your motivation to start this mission?
JP: Well, I sort of went crazy typing on the last question and answered it. haha! I just wanted to create a place for inspiration and promotion of art.
Video game icons like Mario, Zelda and Mega Man and movies like Star Wars are commonly-recurring subjects for a lot of the artists you feature. What is the subject you see being treated most often, and how many times has that subject been submitted to or featured on your site?
JP: Well, I grew up in the original Nintendo / Star Wars era and get easily inspired by work in the gaming / geek genre. I’m usually on the hunt for that type of work. Once in a while, I will get submissions to the site, which helps me out a TON. But, for the most part, I scour the massive internet and try to dig up a handful of pieces to feature per day.
Treatment of subjects is a whole other ballgame. Trends and memes in fan art come and go so quickly: recently we’ve seen memes like “Spock Not Impressed” and steampunk treatments of various subjects. What has been the weirdest or outlandish fan art meme you’ve featured on your site?
JP: Ah yes! There is a black hole on the internet FILLED with hilarious / nonsensical memes and steampunk upgrades. The weirdest / outlandish I guess would have to obviously be the Rage Faces, but with a Sam Spratt treatment. I also try and categorize any memes that I post here.
My favourite trends have definitely been the “minimalist” art and “vintage poster” themes. I know it’s probably impossible for you to pick a favorite, but what trends amuse or entertain you the most?
JP: I’m all about minimalist artwork. Not to a degree where it is obvious that it took them 2 minutes to make. I like simple, yet clever. Here is a good amount of minimalist posts from the past that meet the criteria.
You’re a big supporter of TeeFury and other companies that showcase fan art on clothing lines. Why the interest in online retail, and what other kinds of purchaseable fan art would you like to see more of?
JP: I’m a HUGE t-shirt nut. I have two massive shirt mountains on my dresser (the wife LOVES it…). I find it fun grabbing up geeky shirts and showing my geek pride on a daily basis. I have lined my office desk with geeky toys and items to keep me inspired. I might not design like I used to, but I still need that motivation. I would love to see more custom video game / geek hand made figurines made and for sale. My friend / fellow blogger Whit Anderson (dbsw) stopped by the other day and showed me a custom zombie Star Wars Stormtrooper that a pal of his made. I could use an army of those…
Fan art occupies a weird role in the art spectrum. It’s not always taken seriously as “art,” but its popularity and influence (online at least) is immense. How have you seen fan art’s role change as a public and widely accessible art form?
JP: It has grown by leaps and bounds over the past few years, it seems. At least, it seems that way from where I sit. There is a massive list of artists that can throw down some AMAZING fan art without even breaking a sweat. Fan Art shows are popping up everywhere and I see more and more artists jumping at the chance to get their work displayed within these shows. We are at a time where the old school geeks want something to bring us back to the good old days. What better way to do that then droll over a rad piece of fan art? The modern geeks are just as strong about wanting their favorite game, film, book or comic given a fun mash up, redesign or 3D design. Life is good…
You’re a graphic designer by trade, but you’re making a name for yourself as a promoter of other peoples’ work. Do you ever feel like your own art is getting put aside to manage your busy website?
JP: Oh, of course. I’m not too worried about it though. I have found a strong passion for doing what I do. Someday I will figure out how to juggle this blog and getting back to art. Hopefully… :)
What’s next for Rampaged Reality?