Incredipede Artist: Thomas Shahan

Hello to you sirs and madames. I would like to introduce you to a talented young man by the name of Thomas Shahan.

I found Thomas through a lucky turn of chance while I was perusing Wikipedia.

Phidippus mystaceus by Thomas Shahan

I was looking up jumping spiders while we were  in the Philippines because we had a lot of beautiful spiders running around. His astounding Phidippus Mystaceus picture caught my eye and I absent-mindedly decided to find out who had taken it. That brought me to

Sterculia Nobilis by Berthe Hoola van Nooten

I always wanted Incredipede to look like a Victorian illustration. While I was working on the game in Costa Rica I spent hours poring over old illustrated texts of botanists who had traveled to far off corners of the world.

My favorite is Berthe Hoola van Nooten who traveled through Java and Surinam in the late 1800’s. Her work was lavish and colourful and her write-ups included rich details about how locals used the plants. She instilled the illustrations with a sense of the wider world. I can’t imagine how exciting it must have been to read her book in 1880.

I was so taken with her work that originally Incredipede was in the form of a book. Each level had text on one side and a level on the other.

So it was in this context that I discovered Th0mas’ illustrations.

Pond Gathering by Thomas Shahan

Thomas’ woodblock cuts harken back to an earlier era than I was focused on. But his absolute reveling in the squishy fecundity of nature amazed me! His work has such a sense of place. It’s so disturbingly fascinating.

Peregrinus by Thomas Shahan

I sent him an email asking if he was free and possibly interested in working on a video game. It turns out he was just finishing art school and was interested. I sent him a screenshot of the game and he sent me a mock-up of the screenshot as it might appear with his art. I was blown away by the result.

It turns out he’s also a pretty big video game nerd. When we started corrosponding he sent me a link to an old Genesis shooter called Bio-Hazard Battle which has a nice organic feel. I’ve also seen him go toe to toe with Alex Neuse in an Atari nostalgia-off. Which makes no real sense since Thomas is way too young to have played any Atari games.

The Proposed Egg by Thomas Shahan

A few weeks ago Thomas came out to San Francisco where Sarah and I are staying and we spent a solid week on the game together (although we did find time to go spider hunting in Golden Gate Park).

So far he’s been doing an amazing job. I put together a secret game-play video and showed it around GDC and people went a little nuts for it.

I’ll begin showing off his work in future posts. I don’t want to show you everything at once for fear of blowing your mind out through the top of your skull.

Thomas at the SF MOMA



5 thoughts on “Incredipede Artist: Thomas Shahan

  1. Does his art remind you of the art from Where the Wild Things Are at all? Sort of busy, textured, unsettling?

  2. Flippin’ outstanding.
    Please post more WIP shots. Can’t wait to see.

    That Pond Gathering picture could almost be a detail from in the garden of earthly delights.

    Re: the botanical prints, what do you think of Ernst Haeckel?

  3. Have you seen the 1973 French animated science fiction film ‘La Planète Sauvage’, translated meaning Fantastic Planet/The Wild Planet. It features some very surreal organic creatures and landscapes and has a very aged Victorian(ish) feel to it. Though it is very dark and bleak in its mood.

    Here’s a trailer for it –

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.