Dark or Light

RuneFest 2019: Catching Up With Golden Gnome Winner Dagna

Gareth Harmer Posted:
Interviews 0

RuneFest is for the fans. It’s a chance for dedicated players and enthusiastic content creators to unite under one roof. It’s an opportunity to meet the developers that make the game, learn what’s in the pipe, and influence future development. And it’s a huge celebration of this giant community that has stood for decades.

That community celebration had renewed emphasis at RuneFest 2019, with the introduction of a classy gala evening to host the Golden Gnome community awards. It placed RuneScape content creators of all forms on a stage, recognising their dedication to the games and nurturing inspiration among the audience, both at the Fest and following the stream.

But what is it like for the winners themselves? We caught up with award-winning fan artist Dagna to understand from her what it means to win a Gnome, what makes the RuneScape community unique, and what her plans are for the future.

MMORPG: First of all, congratulations on winning the Golden Gnome. How did it feel getting that award?

Dagna: It was very scary, actually. Like to get to actually go up there and accept it. But, I've been in the run for this award for three years now, and so it felt so satisfying to finally get that recognition. Even getting nominated is, of course, amazing. But when they called my name, the whole table around me was filled with my artist friends, and just exploded because everyone was so happy because they knew this is something I've been wanting for years. It was just the most satisfying thing ever. Also, the most surreal thing ever because it was just so wonderful. Felt like a dream.

MMORPG: It must be phenomenal. And, in this kind of setting as well now, because this is the first time where [Jagex] held a separate award ceremony.

Dagna: Exactly. It was amazing. This night, this year, it's all so organized. And it was like RuneFest compacted into one night. Because this morning when I woke up, it was like I already have the whole RuneFest thing, and I was like, "The event hasn't even started yet."

And the whole setting around it, as an artist, you don't put yourself in this spotlight. Your art is in the spotlight. And to have a chance to actually be in the spotlight yourself is pretty scary. But I felt like a movie star, honestly. After that I felt like a million dollars, honestly. I was just... Also, because it was Oscar style and they all had the tables and stuff and we all looked very fancy. It was just so amazing.

MMORPG: Having it as a night event was a really cool thing.

Dagna: Oh, it was a great call, actually. Because usually it’s maybe half an hour. And to have actually, actually take the time to talk with each other, and meet content creators, and put people in the spotlights. It was just the best call ever, in my opinion. And just take the time for it, not just do it as an in-between thing. Because one of the most important things about this day is it's community. It's the most important thing about RuneFest, too. And that's just what makes this night so amazing.

MMORPG: You're not just about being an artist, but you're also about helping to support other artists, and having a little bit of a fun collective. Can you tell me a little bit more about that?

Dagna: Together with two other artists, earlier this year we decided to start up with this one Discord server that was meant for both RuneScape 3 and Old School artists, because we've noticed that there was kind of a disconnect between the two communities. Also in terms of art appreciation. And we thought it would just be really nice to promote working together, and encouraging each other's art, even though you're making art for one gang or the other. An old school artist may not be that interested in RuneScape 3 content, but that doesn't mean they can support their arts.

And the game is still the same game in arts. It's just so important to unite these communities, because we were kind of a smaller community. We don't have as big of a following as some of the streamers out there, and we don't have a huge impact or anything. But when we band together, we're actually really big community.

And that's just wonderful because we can really inspire each other. And then, I was looking at a whole new level of art. So that's why Player Gallery over there is so important to us, that we can actually show something of ourselves here and get a chance to share that with more people.

MMORPG: All the way down one of the corridors, the main corridor for RuneFest, it's completely lined with art from both Old School and RuneScape 3 players. Does it feel a bit weird, seeing your art up large, like that?

Dagna: It is, actually. But it makes us all so proud. And we send pictures to the people that couldn't be here today. They are just so proud, too, that their art is being seen, displayed over here as focal art, and love an art show. And that's just the coolest thing.

Like I said, we're really thankful that Jagex is doing this for us. Also when they boost us on social media and stuff. That's just so important for a small artist. And it motivates so much to make more, and improve ourselves when we get those like that.

MMORPG: How does the art community interact with other content creators? Is it one big melting pot, or do you have separate groups?

Dagna: Yeah. We do have our separate groups there. I think that just tends to happen because the streamers support each other, similarly to how we do it. We share each other's art on social media, and the streamers may each host each other, and stuff. And you see that on this events too, we have our own group.

There is some overlap. And we do try to encourage them. For example, when our arts gets used into those videos, or we make title cards, thumbnails, screens, when someone's on break or a screen starts excluding some stuff. So I think that's about it. We're kind of not as connected as I would like.

MMORPG: Do you find that having events like this inspires people to get involved?

Dagna: I do hope so. Especially with the art gallery over there. It's kind of daunting to people, I think, starting with art, because there's this period when you just start out, and everything does not look the way you want to. And that's why you need so much encouragement to get through that. So much inspiration is really a goal there. I think the same counts for streamers. When you see your hero up there, they’re received like superheroes. As like movie stars, and rock stars. And I think that really does inspire people. People really want that.

MMORPG: If someone was looking at either Old School or RuneScape 3, and was thinking about getting into producing art, but either don't feel they have the skills or the talent to get into it, what would you suggest to them?

Dagna: The thing about art is that you just have to start. And you have to, you really have to get inspired. The game provides us with this inspiration, and that should be your reason to create and interact with other artists. Learn from them, find the right tools for yourself. Some people like to work traditionally, exclusively. Some people like to work digitally, some people like both. But with art, you have to do it. You just have to create and not really care about how it looks, actually.

And eventually you'll come to that place where you're going to be like, "Hey, actually, you know, that looks pretty cool. But maybe next time I can do this and it'll look even better." And you'll kind develop an eye for that.

MMORPG: Do you think that the way that Jagex works with it's content creators, and ultimately the wider community,helps to inspire new players to get involved? To just sort of play this game because of the way that the community works with them?

Dagna: Oh, definitely, especially on social media and stuff. Jagex has a huge presence on there. And the way they interact with the content we create. I think that's very inviting for new people to join in on the fun, go play the game because if we elevate each other and spread each other's work, and more people get to see it, and like, "Hey that's pretty cool. That's pretty interesting." For example, "That art looks really pretty." And maybe, "These designs in game are very cool. Maybe I can make a very cool looking character in there."

MMORPG: So what brought you into RuneScape originally?

Dagna: Oh, man. I think it was my cousin, a long time ago. There was just some semblance, as a kid. My generation just grew up with it. Most people know and have played the game at some point. Some people have stuck with it.

But, I think, really connect with it, I was in high school. And I originally started drawing Japanese manga inspired characters. And so we would draw our RuneScape game characters in anime style, and it was pretty cool. It evolved from there. But it's really weird to think that RuneScape started my art career.

And it was just really fun to see other artists on social media sharing their work. And I wanted in on that fun. I felt that was just really cool. The way I was inspired by people too. And it would be a dream to also inspire other people to pick up a pencil.

MMORPG: So, how long have you been producing art for?

Dagna: I think over 10 years now. But I think I started posting in 2015. That's when I really started doing rough art, because as a beginning artist you don't always produce the full pieces.

It's just an array of sketches that I made. And you get more patient with it and you start to develop the skills to make a full piece. The character and the background, and maybe some monsters in there. So, yeah. I've developed over time. It's really amazing. It's been an amazing ride.

MMORPG: I imagine. Do you find that RuneScape's preferable style, so it's being very simplistic, low polygon? Do you think that gives you more freedom to be creative in all this?

Dagna: Oh that's a very good question. I am an artist for both versions of the game, and I've been loving putting more and more detail into the RuneScape 3 designs, because they have been getting more detailed. And it has been challenging for me. But then when I started doing more Old School art, it was a huge challenge to interpret some of the shapes, because you can't always tell if something was a rock or a patch of fur.

And that actually, it turned into a really fun thing. And I also like to talk about that with other artists in our community and see how they interpret some shapes, because some of them stick really close to the old school style artistic style. And others tried to interpret it in a more realistic way. So, that's really funny, how old school leaves the freedom for that.

MMORPG:  And what's next for you in terms of, now that you've won the top award?

Dagna: Honestly, I have no idea. I think I'm just going to continue my nostalgia series I'm working on. That really plays into the feeling that you'd get from both games with old school and some very old RuneScape 3 players.

They remember tutorial islands, and running from the wizards and stuff. And the response I've gotten to some of those art pieces was insane and so heartwarming because everyone was like, "Oh man, this feels me from so much nostalgia." And that's really funny because those pieces, they come from my heart, from my own experience with the game. So I just really want to continue doing that, and I wanted to continue supporting the art community in any way I can.


Gareth Harmer

Gareth Harmer / Gareth “Gazimoff” Harmer has been blasting and fireballing his way through MMOs for over ten years. When he's not exploring an online world, he can usually be found enthusiastically dissecting and debating them. Follow him on Twitter at @Gazimoff.