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Andy Chalk | 17 Jan 2012 13:00
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Brands said he was inspired to launch Cook & Becker after working for several years in the game industry, where he saw great work being done by talented artists who went unnoticed by the art world at large. Yet while most of this new generation of artist works in the digital medium and a comparably new breed of international buyer expects to be able to peruse and purchase entirely online, that's an option that most conventional galleries cannot offer. The need to fill that niche in the marketplace was driven home for Brands one day while he was searching for a piece by Yoshitaka Amano, famous for his work on the Final Fantasy series.

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"I got very frustrated that I couldn't find any gallery or place online where I could see the work in detail, actually find out what it costs and buy it directly!" he said. "A gallery that is just a physical space somewhere feels a bit old fashioned to me. So all those ideas came together in Cook & Becker and the website Candb.com."

And while it may not sound like a very deep bench, Brands said there are actually a surprising number of game designers and artists who "transcend their medium and whose work is art of design."

"Think of an artist like Amano who is responsible for the box art and early style of Final Fantasy games for example. He actually now works mostly as an very successful autonomous artist making fantastic work with metal and car paint that sell for tens of thousands of dollars," he continued. "Or take some of the concept artists and architectural designers in this business like Viktor Antonov, who created City 17 and the alien Combine architecture in Half-Life 2. That went way beyond just creating a compelling game environment and has been hugely influential for the visual design of other projects."

He also cited as important the work of Daniel Dociu, who oversees the visual development of Guild Wars 2 and has put together "one of the best concept art teams in the business," the influence of Parappa the Rapper designer Masaya Matsuura and the cultural relevance of games like Grand Theft Auto IV, BioShock and Killzone.

"And these are just the commercial titles. What we do is combine the individual, autonomous work of these outstanding artists with key, artistically interesting commercial work," he added. "We like art that is truly part of contemporary society and does not exist on the fringes, only for a small group of insiders."

To that end, Cook & Becker intends to cater not just to gamers but to a wider audience in the traditional art world. C&B put on an exhibit at the Art.Fair/Blooom contemporary art exhibit in Germany and Brands said people were "generally very interested."

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