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  • Steinar Lund (b. 1954)


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    Adapted from BOX=ART | Interviewed by Adam Gidney in July 2015

    Steinar Lund is a Norwegian-born and UK-resident artist responsible for illustrating dozens of game boxes in Europe, including some of the continent’s earliest. Steinar was at the beginning of the UK’s home computer scene and there probably isn’t a gaming fan in Europe that hasn’t seen his work!

    Steinar broke into the video game industry in 1981 illustrating the box art for Quicksilva’s first release QS Defenda for the ZX81. Steinar had actually known Quicksilva founders Nick Lambert and John Hollis through mutual friends before the game industry in the UK had really taken off. As he tells it, “I knew they were starting something so I did some roughs without them asking and they were pretty chuffed with those so that’s how I got to do the first one.” The industry was so new that Steinar thinks his art for QS Defenda might have been the first game packaging art in color, at least in Europe. Steinar subsequently illustrated the art for QS Asteroids (1981) and designed Quicksilva’s color “QS” logo.

    As Steinar’s work with Quicksilva was freelance—as was standard back then, along with other Quicksilva illustrators such as David John Rowe and Rich Shenfield—he soon branched out and was also illustrating box art for publisher Melbourne House. Game trade shows Steinar and Dave would attend with the team from Quicksilva, portfolios in hand, gave the two opportunities to meet other exhibitors. Through these trade shows Steinar met game designer and Llamasoft founder Jeff Minter, a partner—and fellow fan of Pink Floyd—that embraced the more surreal art Steinar had been doing at the time. As Steinar explained in an interview with Adam Gidney, “[Jeff] gave me a lot of free reign, I would do various visuals, pencils, and he would go with what caught his eye most.” 

    For Llamasoft, that free reign would often emerge in the form of vivid, almost-neon sprays of the airbrush outlining characters that epitomized the bizarre. Steinar’s illustrations would ensure Llamasoft’s products stood out and his art is perhaps just as much a part of the cult classic status of Ancipital and Attack of the Mutant Camels (both 1984) as the games themselves. And that shared love of Pink Floyd? Steinar’s box art for Yak’s Progress, a compilation of eight games Jeff programmed, would feature a stylized characterization of Jeff (a.k.a. “Yak”) sporting a Pink Floyd shirt!

    By the latter half of the 1980s, Steinar’s box art had started to become deliberately richer and more detailed. This shift would coincide with the dawn of the 16-bit gaming era (Amiga, Atari ST, DOS), which, with likely larger art budgets, brought a demand for higher quality art to complement the finer graphics now on offer. Box art such as Armageddon Man (1987), Hunt for the Red October (1987), and Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1988)—one of Steinar’s personal favorites, would all display this new level of detail and would benefit from larger sized retail boxes, creating a greater “canvas” for the work of Steinar and other artists.

    Steinar also produced one of his most well-known works in this era: The Last Ninja (1987). Featuring a simple pair of eyes on an all-black background, Steinar’s packaging illustration captured the persona of a ninja not with covert action scenes but with an emphasis on the ability of a ninja to blend into the background. Steinar’s effective imagery, paired with the game’s runaway success, has ensured that the art remains recognizable, even decades later! Steinar’s art for The Last Ninja inspired the European box art designs for two sequels—both of which utilized a similar eye motif—and Steinar’s original image was reused for the Amiga 32 release of The Last Ninja 3 (1994).

    Ending the decade, Steinar teamed up with Microprose, and his versatility would again be flexed with M1 Tank Platoon (1989). The box’s realistic rendering, high level of detail, and historic accuracy would lead the artist to other similar Microprose projects such as Gunship (1989), Team Yankee (1990), and F-15 Strike Eagle II (1991) that would define his later box art career. F-15 Strike Eagle II in particular would be high-profile, being used for the game’s Sega Mega Drive packaging in Europe; the US release would instead feature the art of Mike Bates.

    Steinar would illustrate his final box art in 1995 for sci-fi epic Space Bucks, but the image would be heavily redesigned from the original, a first for the artist. As with many box artists of his generation, Steinar left the industry by the mid-’90s as the rise of digital art plummeted the demand for traditional illustration.

    Throughout his box art career, Steinar rendered his work with acrylics and inks using a combination of airbrush, traditional brushes, and erasers (see interview). The materials would prove sturdy, and acrylic paints gave Steinar the intense colors that defined his box art. Process-wise, Steinar would start an illustration with pencil sketches to flesh out the design. Once finalized, he would create a pencil mockup to transfer the overall image to a board for airbrushing; Steinar would use a Japanese Olympus airbrush. Steinar would complete his works by hand with a brush for any finishing touches.

    Steinar has frequently cited Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali as an early artistic influence. Picking up the airbrush in his final year of college led to other artists whose work he admired: Chris Fosse, who became famous for his highly detailed space junk on sci-fi book covers; Chris Moore; Jim Burns, for his unique style and “hardware designs”; and Tim White, as well as photorealist Michael English. Beyond contemporary inspirations, Steinar has specifically cited American artist Maxfield Parrish as an all-time favorite, describing his use of color as very influential; Maxfield would use glazes to achieve spectacular effects in his paintings and Steinar would point to Maxfield’s 1922 painting Daybreak as atmospheric and dreamy with an eloquent use of color and light. In Steinar’s 2015 interview with Adam Gidney, Roger Dean’s name was also quick to mind for Steinar, not only for Roger’s music album covers but also for the artbooks he published featuring the work of other artists.

    Steinar spoke contemporaneously about his video game box art in issue 14 of CRASH magazine (March 1985) and another feature transcribed here, possibly from 1988.

    OVGA has included below Steinar Lund's full known box art catalog

    1. QS Asteroids (Quicksilva Ltd. | ZX81 | 1981)
    2. QS Defenda (Quicksilva Ltd. | ZX81 | 1981)
    3. QS Invaders (Quicksilva Ltd. | ZX81 | 1981)
    4. Classic Adventure a.k.a. Adventure 1 (Melbourne House | Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum | 1982)
    5. Dragonsbane (Quicksilva | ZX Spectrum | 1983)
    6. Smugglers Cove (Quicksilva | ZX Spectrum | 1983)
    7. Xadom (Quicksilva | ZX Spectrum | 1983)
    8. Ancipital (Llamasoft | 1984 | Commodore 64 | 1984)
    9. Attack of the Mutant Camels a.k.a. Advance of the Mega Camels (Llamasoft Ltd. | Atari 8-bit | 1984)
    10. Backpackers Guide to the Universe Part 1 (Fantasy Software | 1984 | ZX Spectrum | 1984)
    11. Blood ‘n’ Gutz (Quicksilva | Commodore 64 | 1984)
    12. Boulderdash (Mirrorsoft Ltd | Amstrad CPC, Atari 8-bit, ZX Spectrum | 1984)
    13. Dark Tower (Melboure House | Commodore 16, Plus/4, Commodore 64 | 1984)
    14. Gatecrasher (Quicksilva | Amstrad CPC, BBC Micro, Electron, ZX Spectrum | 1984)
    15. Hellfire (Melbourne House | ZX Spectrum | 1984)
    16. Mama Llama (Llamasoft | Commodore 64 | 1984)
    17. Revelation (Softek International Ltd. | Commodore 64 | 1984)
    18. Sheep in Space (Llamasoft Ltd. | Commodore 64 | 1984)
    19. Batalyx (Llamasoft | Commodore 64 | 1985)
    20. Battle of the Planets (Mikro-Gen Ltd | Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum | 1985)
    21. Castle of Terror (Melbourne House | Commodore 64 | 1985)
    22. Codename MAT 2 (Domark | Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum | 1985)
    23. Dynamite Dan (Mirrorsoft Ltd. | ZX Spectrum | 1985)
    24. Dynamite Dan II (Mirrorsoft | Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum | 1985)
    25. Fighting Warrior (Melboure House | Amstrad CPC, Commodore 16, Plus/4, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum | 1985)
    26. Gyroscope (Melboure House | Amstrad CPC, BBC Micro, Commodore 64, Electron, ZX Spectrum | 1985)
    27. Mad Doctor (Sparkers | Commodore 64 | 1985)
    28. Riddlers Den (Electric dreams Software | ZX Spectrum | 1985)
    29. ARAC (Addictive Games Ltd | 1986 | Commodore 64 | 1986)
    30. Cop-Out (Mikro-Gen Ltd | Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum | 1986)
    31. Frost Byte (Mikro-Gen Ltd | Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum | 1986)
    32. Idris Alpha (Hewson Consultants | Commodore 64 | 1986)
    33. Jahangir Khan Championship Squash World (Krisalis Software Ltd | Acorn 32-bit, Amiga, Amstrad, Atari ST, C64, DOS,Spectrum | 1986)
    34. Knuckle Busters (Melbourne House | Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum | 1986)
    35. Kwah! (Melbourne House | Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum | 1986)
    36. Mermaid Madness (Electric Dreams Software | Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum | 1986)
    37. Orbix: The Terrorball (Streetwise | ZX Spectrum | 1986)
    38. Raid 2000 (Mirrorsoft | Commodore 64 | 1986)
    39. Redhawk (Melbourne House | Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum | 1986)
    40. Stainless Steel (Mikro-Gen Ltd | Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum | 1986)
    41. Terror of the Deep (Mirrorsoft Ltd | Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum | 1986)
    42. Viva Vic! (Llamasoft | VIC-20 | 1986)
    43. πr² a.k.a. Pi-r Squared (Mind Games | Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum | 1987)
    44. Armageddon Man (Martech Games Ltd | Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum | 1987)
    45. Bermuda Project (Mirrorsoft Ltd. | Amiga, Atari ST | 1987)
    46. Hunt for the Red October (Grandslam Entertainments Ltd | Amiga, Amstrad, Atari ST, C64, DOS, MSX, Spectrum | 1987)
    47. IBall (Firebird | Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum | 1987)
    48. Mega Apocalypse (Marteck Games Ltd | Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum | 1987)
    49. Moon Strike (Mirrorsoft | ZX Spectrum | 1987)
    50. Nigel Mansell’s Grand Prix (Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, ZX Spectrum | 1987)
    51. Pac-Land (Quicksilva | Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, MSX, ZX Spectrum | 1987)
    52. Terramex (Grandslam Entertainments Ltd | EU ver. | Acorn 32-bit, Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, C64, MSX, ZX Spectrum | 1987)
    53. The Last Ninja (System 3 | CD32, Commodore 64 | 1987)
    54. The Tube (Quicksilva | Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum. | 1987)
    55. Typhoon Thompson (Domark Limited | Atari ST | 1987)
    56. Dark Side (Incentive Software Ltd. | Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, DOS, ZX Spectrum | 1988)
    57. Driller (Incentive Software | Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, MS-DOS, ZX Spectrum | 1988)
    58. Fireblaster (Prism Leisure Corp | Amiga, Atari ST | 1988)
    59. Hellfire Attack (Martech Games Ltd | Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum | 1988)
    60. Hyperdrome (Exocet Software | Amiga, Atari ST | 1988)
    61. Ian Flemming’s James Bond 007 in Live and Let Die: The Computer Game (Domark | Amiga, Amstrad, Atari ST, C64, Spectrum | 1988)
    62. Pac-Mania (Grandslam Entertainments Ltd | Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, MSX, ZX Spectrum | 1988)
    63. Phantom Fighter (Martech Games Ltd | Amiga | 1988)
    64. Power Pyramids (Grandslam Entertainments Ltd | Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum | 1988)
    65. Rex (Martech Games Ltd | Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum | 1988)
    66. R.I.S.K (The Edge | Commodore 64 | 1988)
    67. Star Wars (Domark | EU ver. | Amiga, Amstrad, Atari ST, BBC Micro, C64, Electron, Game Boy, Macintosh, DOS, Spectrum | 1988)
    68. Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (Domark | EU ver. | Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64 | 1988)
    69. Shoot-Out (Martech Games Ltd |  Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum | 1988)
    70. Trivial Pursuit: A New Beginning (Domark Limited | Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, BBC Micro, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum | 1988)
    71. Total Eclipse (incentive Software | EU ver. | Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum | 1988)
    72. 3D Pool (Firebird Software | 1989 | Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, BBC Micro, Commodore 64, Electron, MSX, ZX Spectrum | 1989)
    73. Andes Attack (Llamasoft Ltd. | Atari ST | 1989)
    74. APB (Domark | Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, MS DOS, ZX Spectrum | 1989) 
    75. Dark Side (Micro Status | Amiga, Atari ST | 1989) different art 
    76. Jaws (Screen 7 Ltd. | Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, MSX, ZX Spectrum | 1989)
    77. M1 Tank Platoon (Microprose | Amiga, Atari ST, MS-DOS | 1989)
    78. Prison (Krisalis Software Ltd. | Amiga, Atari ST | 1989)
    79. Stunt Track Racer (Microstyle | Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, MS-DOS, ZX Spectrum | 1989)
    80. Thunderbirds (Grandslam Entertainments Ltd | Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, MSX, ZX Spectrum | 1989)
    81. Vindicators (Domark | Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum | 1989)
    82. Apprentice (Rainbow Arts Software GmbH | 1990 | Amiga, Atari ST | 1990)
    83. Ashes of Empire (Mirage Tech Ltd | Amiga | 1990)
    84. Chuck Yeager’s Advanced Flight Trainer 2.0 (Electronic Arts | Amiga, Atari ST, DOS | 1990) composite of 4 separate plane illustrations
    85. Lords of Chaos (Blade Software | Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum | 1990)
    86. Mad Professor Moriati (Acorn 32-bit, Amiga, Atari ST | 1990)
    87. Poseidon: Planet Eleven (Hi-Tec Software Ltd. | Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum | 1990)
    88. Scramble Spirits (Grandslam Interactive Ltd. | Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, MSX, ZX Spectrum | 1990)
    89. Space Harrier II (Grandslam Entertainments Ltd | EU ver. | Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum | 1990)
    90. Team Yankee (Empire Software | UK ver. | Amiga, Atari ST, CDTV, MS-DOS | 1990)
    91. Xiphos (Electronic Zoo | Amiga, Atari ST, MS-DOS | 1990)
    92. Corx: Rebel Racers (Starbyte Software | Amiga, Commodore 64 | 1991)
    93. Extreme (Digital Integration Ltd. | Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum | 1991)
    94. F-15 Strike Eagle II (Microprose | Amiga, Atari ST, Mega Drive, MS-DOS | 1991)
    95. Manchester United (Krisalis Software Ltd | Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, MS-DOS, ZX Spectrum | 1991)
    96. Winzer (Starbyte Software | Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64, MS-DOS | 1991)
    97. Alcatraz (Inforgrames Europe SA | 1992 | Amiga Atari ST, DOS | 1992)
    98. Laser Squad (Krisalis Software Ltd. | DOS | 1992)
    99. Pacific Islands (Empire software | Amiga, Atari ST, MS-DOS | 1992)
    100. Sabre Team (Krisalis software House | Amiga, Atari ST, CD32, MS-DOS | 1992)
    101. Shadoworlds (Krisalis software House | Amiga, Atari ST, MS-DOS | 1992)
    102. Soul Crystal (Starbyte Software | Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64, MS-DOS | 1992)
    103. Twilight: 2000 (Empire Sotftware | EU ver. | MS-DOS | 1992)
    104. Vikings: Fields of Conquest - Kingdoms of England (Krisalis Software | Amiga, MS-DOS | 1992)
    105. Rules of Engagement 2 (Impressions Games | Amiga, MS-DOS | 1993)
    106. Uridium 2 (Renegade Software | Amiga | 1993)
    107. Last Ninja 3 (System 3 Software Ltd. | Amiga 32CD | 1994) repeat art
    108. Legends (Guildhall Leisure Services Ltd. | Amiga, Amiga 32CD, DOS | 1996)
    109. Space Bucks (Sierra On-Line | Windows 3.x | 1996)

    Steinar Lund

    Steinar Lund (b. 1954)
    Born: 1954, Bergen, Norway
    Nationality: British/Norwegian
    Location: Hampshire, United Kingdom
    Education: Southampton; Kingston University
    Known For : Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
    Years Active: 1981–1995

    Additional Images

    Vikings: Fields of Conquest - Kingdoms of England II Amiga Box Art
    Stainless Steel Spectrum Box Art
    Dragonsbane
    Shadoworlds
    Star Wars

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