Art Direction at Gather

"gather ad asset"

In 2020, many creative theatrical productions moved online out due to necessity from the COVID-19 lockdowns. Some creatives made use of Zoom, and others shared smaller platorms that allowed some 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 on “Gather.town”. This was a lot of fun– it’s a small retro-rpg aesthetic proximity chat platform that ran in-browser. "gather in 2020-1" "gather in 2020-2" "gather in 2020-3" The Pokemon inpired avatars couldn’t be changed, but the background image for any 2D video chat could be anything. I made a few spaces, made some money using the platform creating themed event spaces for other users, and eventually found myself meeting the CEO, Phillip Wang, in a virtual coffee shop I had made and put the link out about on Twitter.

"gather cafe"

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 during the pandemic lockdown. I heard voices coming from my laptop one evening, and looked up to find Phillip serving people coffees from behind the counter, roleplaying as a barista. An article about Gather was written in WIRED magazine, and the author, Gretchen, was in the space too.

"Alamo Drafthouse Nic Cage screening" "Pandemic Thanksgiving" "Private Film Screening" "Pandemic Kitchen" "Camping in the Woods" Some other spaces I made prior to my employment at Gather, for myself and for others’ online events.

"Everything was closed for the pandemic"

Shortly after that evening, I applied to Gather. I showed all the spaces I had made, did an art test and a few interviews with the Art Director at the time, Mark Carpenter. Looking back and laughing, I distinctly remember thinking to myself, “This platform is amazing, but their art could really use some help. I can help!” Years later, after some great projects, the growing of the team, a few promotions, the shrinking of the team, and a pivot from the company to focus on remote work as a use case for the platform to find profitability, I found myself in the position of Art Director myself.

"Gather Banner" "Inclusivity" "NewHair" "NewColors" "Staff Lineup" "my influence on the art"

Ultimately, after three years, Gather’s leadership decided to lay off the rest of the art team– myself included. Between when I started and when I left, I influenced and defined the evolution of the Gather art style to become something less referential to nostalgic video game assets, but which stayed constrained to pixelart. The result was a more professional and purely Gather style 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 set higher level goals for the art and maps departments as a whole.