Artist Spotlight: ma-ko

Got a fantasy artist who deserves some attention? Let us know in the comments!

We’ve mentioned ma-ko before in our discussion of backpack fantasy, but their work deserves closer attention. Washed in bright, pale greens and blues, ma-ko’s wilderness art depicts landscapes thick with leaves and grass. Often a single adventurer is seen exploring a space that dwarfs their tiny figure. The figure may even have its back to the viewer, inviting identification, drawing us into the piece as though we might step into the world beyond the frame.

There’s often a sense of loneliness to ma-ko’s art, but it’s an appealing, almost wholesome loneliness. These adventurers aren’t lost; they’ve chosen to explore the ruins and wilds around them. They’re usually found moving forward into the unknown (and sometimes making camp).

The Legend of Zelda inspiration in ma-ko’s art would be clear even if Link didn’t occasionally pop up. And indeed, Zelda was originally inspired by creator Shigeru Miyamoto’s youthful explorations of

the hillsides, forests, and caves surrounding his childhood home in Sonobe, Japan where he ventured into forests with secluded lakes, caves, and rural villages. According to Miyamoto, one of his most memorable experiences was the discovery of a cave entrance in the middle of the woods. After some hesitation, he apprehensively entered the cave, and explored its depths with the aid of a lantern.


It doesn’t get more backpack than that!

Another common feature of ma-ko’s art is old, abandoned swords. They seem to sit waiting for the right adventurer to come along and pull them from the ground. There’s a promise in these pictures: adventure is waiting for us out there in the wilds, if we’re bold enough to go find it.

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