How would you paint a “Raging Volcano” or a “Secret Garden”? What if the only colors available were red, blue, yellow, and black, and the only shapes were squares and rectangles? You might answer that you cannot. It’s this reluctance to creatively dive into art without fear of doing it right that the Cleveland-based developer Jarryd Huntley wanted to examine in Art Club Challenge.
“Art is subjective, it’s something you own,” Huntley told Hyperallergic. “And what better way to tell someone they can do it than to show them a game? It doesn’t feel like learning the art, but by facing a few challenges, many people are very happy and surprised with the art they have produced.
Art Club Challenge, the first title from Polytundra studio, was recently released on iPhone and iPad. The mobile game was conceived during a minimalism-themed game jam and was part of last year’s Smithsonian American Art Museum arcade.
There are several ways to interact with the game. One is the “Story” mode where you start as a novice art student, progressing through composition principles that must be solved like puzzles to advance, while that “Challenge” mode has specific themes that you work on, with concrete prompts, like “A Hot Air Balloon”, and others more open to interpretation, like “A Robot Friend” and “An Ancient Dragon “Free Paint” lets players use in-game tools to paint anything. All scenes are accompanied by jazzy music that keeps the experience cool.
A gallery features works by other players, to compare how others have approached the same tasks. Although only four colors are available and the blocky shapes force the Mondrian shapes, this gallery shows how creatively people have played within those limits. “People will approach art a bit more like a puzzle at first, ‘how can I do this without green?'” Huntley said. “I think art turns out to be more interesting in the long run.”
Similar to that of Michael Shillingburg Great Sculptor!in which you stack neon tubes, televisions, wavering arms, and other objects into wild assemblies, and Strangethink’s Joy Exhibitionwhere you use paint guns to create psychedelic color fields for aliens, Art Club Challenge uses game mechanics to show that creating art doesn’t have to be perfect to be enjoyable. I don’t think I have a career ahead of me in abstract art, but I enjoyed how story mode gradually introduced ideas like white space and a balanced canvas to reveal larger artistic concepts. Ultimately, Art Club Challenge It’s not about creating masterpieces (indeed, the limits of the game make that rather impossible, unless you’re actually Piet Mondrian), it’s about making art more accessible .
“What I’ve noticed doing research for this game is that often people only do things they’re good at,” Huntley said. “Which might sound a bit silly, but I think sometimes we forget that we can do things for fun or for ourselves.”
Art Club Challenge is now available for iOS.