Space Invaders: The Art of Video Game Art

Recent years have been pretty kind to video games and gamers. Social stigmas have begun to be dissolved, and the idea of being a gamer is no longer looked on with the same negative prejudice as it once was. Gaming can teach us valuable lessons, inspire creativity, and introduce us to some of the greatest music ever created. And in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, a local company is seeking to bring even greater attention to the beauty of video games through a month-long occasion.

The event is called “Space Invaders”, and it is an art exhibit that will feature pieces from local artists, all focused on the theme of video games. It is sponsored by Think Tank Events, and will run from April 10 to May 30. I had the chance to meet and chat with Todd Lacharite, head of Think Tank, to talk about the art show, as well as some of our favourite video games (Final Fantasy for me; anything with less than 16-bit graphics for Todd).

“Happy Mario, Happy Yoshi” by Mockrabbit.

JD Schmidt: What made you decide to do an art exhibit focused solely on video games?

Todd Lacharite: A couple of years ago, we did an art show that was all about Star Wars, and I find that if we can focus on a theme that everyone can relate to, you can come to the show and appreciate the pieces, even if you aren’t really interested in art. We’re trying to not only bring attention to local artists, but also to art in general. All the art is for sale as well, so hopefully some people will come and like the art enough to take some of it home. There will also be live music, and a couple of the musicians will be playing cool arrangements of video game music. Over forty artists are scheduled to participate, so it should be pretty great.

JDS: I’ve noticed that most of the paintings that I’ve seen have been representations of retro games. Is that the unspoken theme of the event?

TL: There are a lot of retro paintings, but that’s not really the theme. I’ve seen some other stuff as well, like a Resident Evil painting and others. I think that the retro games are definitely the most relatable and that’s why people tend to focus on that, but the art isn’t limited to that theme.

“Mario” by Russell Jensen.

JDS: The first time I played Skyrim, even though it wasn’t my style of game, I was totally floored by the visuals and the beauty of the scenery. Do you think that video games themselves can be considered art?

TL: Oh, absolutely. So much work goes into games nowadays, it’s insane. It really blows my mind. I mean you look at games like Grand Theft Auto and the landscape and the open world and everything, it’s really amazing. I can’t even imagine what it would be like for people who haven’t grown up with video games to see them now.

JDS: Do you have any similar events planned for the future?

TL: Yeah, later this year we will be doing another art exhibit focusing on another niche subject. Next time it will be all about cult classic movies. You could probably do an entire gallery on Quentin Tarantino movies alone, it should be pretty good.

JDS: Fantastic. I look forward to the opening reception on April 10. Thank you so much for your time and information.

“Ape Shit” by Jason Trotter.

So if you’re a fan of video games (and why would you be here if you aren’t?) or art, and happen to live in the region, “Space Invaders” runs from April 10–May 30 in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. Admission is free, and all ages are welcome. The concluding event of the exhibit will be a massive, Pac-Man style game of tag, and the winner will get to take home a genuine Pac-Man coin-op arcade game. Check out the Think Tank Events website or Facebook page for more details.

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