Art Direction at Gather

"gather ad asset"

Gather is retro-RPG aesthetic proximity chat platform that runs in-browser.

In 2020, many creative theatrical productions moved online out due to necessity from the COVID-19 lockdowns. Some creatives made use of Zoom, but others used smaller platorms that allowed for interesting creative liberties. Gather became a popular choice among friends of mine in the Immersive Theatre crowd. I was invited to Terrence LeClere’s birthday party in Gather; it was a lot of fun!

"gather in 2020-1" An example of a map in Gather in the early days

"gather in 2020-3" Four of the original Gather avatars

In the early days, the avatars weren’t user-editable, but the map was totally customizable. I made a few spaces, then did some contract work making maps for folks using the platform for themed event spaces.

"Alamo Drafthouse Nic Cage screening" Screening of “Wickerman” at the Alamo Drafthouse

"Pandemic Thanksgiving" Pandemic Thanksgiving

"Private Film Screening" Private Film Screening

"Pandemic Kitchen" Pandemic Kitchen

"Camping in the Woods" Camping themed event

I even made a virtual coffee shop and posted the link on Twitter.

"gather cafe" The coffee shop I created

I kept the space open on my laptop while I was in my room, using it as if I were working from a coffee shop. I heard voices coming from my laptop one evening and looked up to find Phillip Wang, the CEO of Gather, serving people coffees from behind the counter roleplaying as a barista. A writer for WIRED magazine was also in the space, and she later wrote an article about Gather from the visit.

Shortly after that evening, I applied to Gather and began working there full time. I was employee number 20. I started by working with the Art Director Mark Carpenter to develop Gather’s visual style and color pallete. I also worked on a small team of other pixel artists to make thousands of assets for the platform.

After a couple years at Gather, I became the Art Director. While in this role, I led an update to the pallete, worked with design on a website refresh, pitched and developed a new model for structuring tiles in the platform, worked closely with product to adjust our style based on customer feedback, and dozens of other projects while coordinating with every team at the company.

"Gather Banner"

"Everything was closed for the pandemic"

One of the largest projects I worked on at Gather was making the selection of avatar styles and assets more inclusive. This included new hair styles, colors, skin tones, and skin types.

"Inclusivity" Newly added hair styles



"Staff Lineup" A collection of different avatars, showing the range of appearances

After three years, Gather’s leadership decided to lay off the art team, myself included. While I was there, I influenced and defined the evolution of the Gather art style into something less reminicient of nostalgic video game assets, but still in the pixel art format.

"my influence on the art" My influence on Gather’s style towards a more professional look

The result was a more professional and uniquely Gather style. This was comprised of identity-inclusive avatars and wearable features, objects, and world environments. I reshaped the color palette, set the bar for consistency and quality in the art the team produced, and developed broad goals for the art and map departments as a whole.