Australian Artist Matt Heath chats about working with Wargaming and World of Tanks

World of Tanks on console is celebrating its 4th birthday and 14 million global players. To do so, it teamed up with amazing artists from all over the world. Artist Matt Heath worked with Wargaming on a special print and we got to chat with him about the experience.

Matt Heath was born in 1976 and is a Sydney based illustrator.

His career spans both graphic design and art direction. Though according to him, he currently prefers working on concept art.

My goal is to spend more time on concept art as opposed to just these finished pieces. A lot of my time is spent sketching

Heath draws inspiration from pop-culture — Star Wars and 2000AD — but for the World of Tanks piece, he drew his inspiration elsewhere.

“My inspiration for the artwork first developed in 2012. I was living and working in Berlin and I developed a desire to understand what life was like for people from this time, this led to me reading and studying a lot about the history of the war.

“When I was approached about this project the timing was perfect, I had just learned of Operation: Sealion and realised that this was a scenario in World Of Tanks that is explored.

“It’s a scary idea; the invasion that never happened. I struggled over whether I should portray a victor or not but in the end, found it was necessary to tip the scales for the narrative of the artwork.”

Artist Matt Heath worked with Wargaming

Ultimately, the victor depicted in Heath’s image is that of a British soldier. I wondered if he’d been tempted to show Germany as the victor.

PowerUp! – The picture you’ve drawn is obviously a non-successful Operation Sealion

Heath – Correct. That was hard for me to try and be, I don’t know the word, but sort of open. I couldn’t decide how to make an impactful piece, and not have some sort of outcome. And it doesn’t necessarily be the end of it either, it could just be one place in that whole saga.

So it’s open to interpretation but I ended up feeling like it needed a victor in some way.

PowerUp! – Did the current international political climate kind of dissuade you from having a German guy on the top of the tank? Is that a bit too controversial to do?

Heath – Yeah, a little bit. Probably not so much about current times. More because I’ve been learning a lot about that war and it seems like overall it wouldn’t have been appropriate.

Even in the images, there’s a logo of one of the tank crews, an actual real German tank crew, and I thought about looking to that. Some of those tank crews have committed atrocities. So I deliberately didn’t choose one that might be contentious.

I kind of explore all of those things and it’s still war and people are dying, but I wanted to not offend too many people.

Heath’s image seems to echo the propaganda images that were born out of warfare. I described it as having an iconic feel, but Heath corrected my on the artistic phrase.

The word I think artists use is narrative. So you want to look at it and try to imagine the story behind it as well.

As opposed to just a single face or I wanted to have a story that can be interpreted by different people.

When I look at the image, my eye is drawn to the hand reaching out of the tank. I asked Heath about this and he explained it was all part of the narrative.

“There’s one guy falling out and one guy sort of in his last gasps. So it’s just happening as we see it. I wanted a bit of grisly detail in there to sort of get a smirk or maybe a reaction. It’s just one little thing that tells part of that story.”

As an artist Matt Heath worked with Wargaming in a formal capacity. I was interested to hear what its response to his artwork had been and what kind of support they’d given to Heath.

PowerUp! – What support did you get from Wargaming? Did you have access to images of tanks and reference material?

Heath –  They’d send me images and some reference but actually their website with the list of tanks has everything on it. I used that a lot. They sent through some great reference and I asked for a couple of more things and just went from there.

I did modify the tank, to be honest, it might not be historically accurate.

PowerUp! – It’s artistically accurate.

Heath – Correct. There’s hopefully a chance that I can get away with without straying too far from it. Wargaming definitely supported with things that we needed.

Working with Wargaming wasn’t Matt Heat’s first foray into the world of video games. He worked on the Streets of Warcraft publication and exhibits at Paris Games Week in 2016 and 2017.

Having worked in the realm of gaming multiple times, I wondered if he found the experience to be a positive one.

It was really, really positive. I do get work through different sources and this stuff’s great.

I like doing single pieces like this. And the process is good too. It’s nice to have an idea that you can get feedback or other ideas from and everyone has the same goal.

Wargaming wants to have a great game and cool artwork and as it clearly does already and I want to make cool artwork too. As simple as that sounds.

The experience was really good.

When I asked him if he’d like to work as an artist for a video game in the future, he was coy. He mentioned he was working on a project, but he didn’t give me any details.

Matt Heat’s artwork for World of Tanks console can be viewed below.

A time lapse of him creating the piece can be viewed at the bottom of the page.

We’d like to thank Matt Heath and Wargaming for their time.

Leo Stevenson
Leo Stevenson
I've been playing games for the past 27 years and have been writing for almost as long. Combining two passions in the way I'm able is a true privilege. PowerUp! is a labour of love and one I am so excited to share.

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