@IndianaJ0nas is a Swedish Game Developer, Artist and Comic Creator. They sat down with me at Happy Snake Studios to talk about their creative work.
So, Jonas, you seem to make everything from comics to 3D art to games.
What gets you motivated in the morning?
I just recently got out of video game school and committed 100% to doing my own projects and client work. It never seemed plausible to me that I could become decent enough at all the skills required to make video games because I used to consider myself a very untechnical person. So now that I can do all these different parts I’m very inspired to do something with it and I keep improving all the time because I’m so excited. As long as I don’t come up with insanely huge ideas it’s pretty easy to stay motivated.
With comics I always put myself to so high standards that I rarely get-to-it, I wanted to make some of my old comics into a regular-scheduled webcomic but I can’t push myself to deliver deep or funny stuff all the time and every time I tried that led me into a downwards spiral because if I can’t make deep and funny stuff I must be uninteresting and unfunny myself.
So now I have given up on pushing myself to come up with those types of ideas, they used to come more naturally, which I think is good for jokes and stuff. Nowadays I have a more methodical approach where I do longer stories and figure them out more like a puzzle. To some extent you have to push yourself even if you aren’t motivated but I think it’s more about finding a sweet spot where you aren’t judging yourself by the outcome of what you are creating. When I judge myself by the outcome of the project it’s often because I made it for the sake of my ego not because the idea itself was worthwhile.
I struggle with a little bit of ADHD as well, it’s been hard for me to stick to projects until the end but I’ve become more structured and tactical. Right now I’m very fired up about everything.
You have a new web-comic PLANTLAND coming out this Saturday!
What drives you to make comics? What is Plantland about?
I DO! It’s what I’m the most fired up about at the moment!
It used to be very important for me that I was making comics when I was younger, it was a huge part of my identity. Nowadays I could just as well be doing the same thing with film or as a game, it’s just a lot quicker and cheaper to get it out in this format. I would love to try something else with the same world in the future though.
Plantland takes place in the post-apocalypse we would all like to be in with our friends except the violence is not at the level you would expect in a post-apocalyptic world. I don’t wanna give away too much but the land has returned to a state of milk and honey after some rough years, a lot of ideas we have today have changed or been forgotten. Let’s just say it’s not the wasteland of white cis men this time around.
Your art style and the art for Plantland always blow me away.
How did Plantland come to be and how does it feel making a weekly comic?
When I went to art school (Swedish Gymnasium) my final year project was to come up with a setting and characters for a comic, that was 2015. My initial take on this was a lot grittier because that’s what I thought post-apocalyptic stuff should be but it was so boring. Dark and gritty’s never been a strength of mine so I fought for a long time to get anything down and nothing clicked.
When I was 14 I used to make Flipnotes on the Nintendo DSi and share them with other Flipnote animators, one of the friends I made back then contacted me again for the first time since then in 2016 and offered to print anything I wanted as a book. This made me pick up Plantland again, I had pretty much given up on it because I had struggled so much with the story and art but this offer made me give it another shot and then everything started falling into place. Although school took too much of my energy at that time so I could only finish the script and do some concepts for it.
I’m too impatient to sit on the comic until it’s done so I’m releasing it for free online as I work on it to keep the spirits up and hopefully getting a few readers.
So far it’s fun to draw the comic every week, I have a schedule and I have a buffer to burn through incase I get stuck somewhere. Which gives me a few weeks to look at a page and edit if I want to.
What kind of games do you find the most interesting?
What are you playing right now that interests you design wise?
I like games as places or locations, such as in Animal Crossing, Hohokum, Skyrim and Night in The Woods, it feels like those worlds tick without you. I would love to see more games take this idea further, it’s something I want to explore myself. That’s what INTERACTION BOY 3000 is about (which is currently on hold).
Something else I’m extremely into is games where you are about the size of a rat and run around a normal house like in Arietty by Studio Ghibli. I’ve never played something quite like that, Ratatouille or Katamari is probably the closest I’ve seen. I played something on itch.io where you are slowly shrinking and have to make an antidote before you’re too small which was GREAT but I wanna explore.
Been playing lots of Splatoon 2, the UI and graphic design in there is amazing! I’ve wanted to write a love letter or something on that but haven’t found an angle to it. It’s so darn playful and cool.
In the future I want to segway more into turning reoccurring thoughts I had as a child into games.
What have you learnt about working professionally that you wish you had known 5 years ago?
I’m struggling with making this work and I often feel like it’s not gonna lead to anything sustainable in the long run. But it’s getting better if I try to be objective about it.
I really like to work with others, coming out from a studio project recently I miss having people around who’s assigned to tasks that they know how to do.
I wish I had done collaborative work in comics because I only learned how fun that can be when I started going to video game school and attending game jams.
I’m not much of a story-driven person so that’s probably why I have hesitated to collab with someone in comics, however I think I would really like to write a story for someone else to draw in the future.
Going to attempt to work in teams more often for sure!
Finally, it’s hard to stay happy and healthy when you work all the time! What tips/tricks/advice do you have for other people that work creatively or make indie games online?
How do you stay healthy?
I have a schedule that I stick to and I work on two projects every day that balance each other out. If I was only making games I would go insane because it’s so hard to predict when you will get stuck on something and how long you will be stuck or wether the idea will work at all without having to blow things out of proportions. The comic is more linear in progression because I have a finished script and about a hundred sketched pages to go through.
I make to do lists with categories on Trello for everything all the time, it’s so rewarding to tick of tasks. When I team up one of the first things I do is make a Trello board. (Trello gave me a billion dollars to say this)
In general I’m not a very healthy person though, I never work out or exercise. I only take a walk when I have somewhere to go or because I want to spend time with someone. I put more value into my relationships than my physical health. I could elaborate more on that but it would just get weird.
I was struggling with depression through my teens and a decent bit past that, even though I’m not completely through that shit my overall mood has improved. I would say that’s because I studied myself and talked a lot about it with people, making art helped as well.
Thanks so much for being here Jonas, I can’t wait to see what you make in the future!
You can check out Jonas’ work on Twitter (@IndianaJ0nas)
At their website https://www.indiana-jonas.com/
And stay tuned for Plantland starting tomorrow! (14th july)