Company: Software Projects Name: Roger Tissyman Status: Artist
Roger Tissyman was the man behind the covers made by Software Projects, from Manic Miner to Star Paws and far beyond. He had a very special style that caught me in the early eighties and of course still does! I tried to locate him many years ago but sadly he already passed away early as 1991 so I had no chance to get an interview with him.
Instead I found his daughter Susan and she is telling here for the first time about his dad's work!
Hi Susan! Its a huge pleasure to interview a relative to one of the best game cover artist who has lived on this planet! :) Hello Dan, and I am pleased to answer your questions about my dad!
Game covers in the eighties had really various kind of art on the front of the game. They could just have a text or maybe just a plain ship or even less objects. The very first time I saw Roger´s art it really blow me away! It was the cover from Manic Miner. I thought it was just so fantastic with all the colours around it. Susan I must start to ask you, how did you father create the art? what kind of tools did he use to create those fantastic stuff? The creation of his artwork was quite simple, he would trace an idea on to artboard then mask off areas and use an airbrush to do the backgrounds. The more detailed/fine bits he would do with a brush.
Did he have any source of inspiration or was it just from his imagination he got the ideas? As to inspiration for the covers, I would assume he was given a rough idea about the content of the game and would then throw about ideas with them, then go off and do a rough copy and then go from there.
I don’t know wheather anything I said influenced my Dad. He grew up with the Goon Show (Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan), and loved Monty Python, with his favourite film being ‘The Life Of Brian’. He had a great sense of humour which we still laugh about now. I suppose his inspiration was all connected to his humour and outlook on life.
Matthew Smith was the author for the fantastic game Manic Miner. Did he visit your dad sometimes meanwhile he create the art for it? I have no idea if my Dad met Mathew Smith. As Software Projects were based in Liverpool as was my Dad’s office so he would have gone there and he could well have met him.
One thing I have noticed are that many of the figures have a very sharp nose, like a bird`s beak. Do you have any ideas why? :) The character had sharp noses as they were supposed to be penguins. Why, I do not know, it could have been just an idea that stuck and became a way to link all the covers together.
I can´t help asking almost the same question, but its about the shoes. In many of his art the figures have some kind of shoes that it seems belongs to minerworkers. How come he used those shoes in the art so much? was he a former miner maybe? ;)
The boots on the character are based on workmans boots. You would always see any roadworkers, council workers or building site workers with this type of footware and it just stuck. My Dad was never a Miner.
Many artists have their signature at the bottow of their work of art, but I can´t seem to find any signature on the game covers. You have any idea why he didn´t leave any? Nearly all his artwork would have been copyrighted, I suppose, so he couldn’t sign it. But if you look closely you might find his trade mark of a mouse. For example in ‘Lode Runner’ the mouse is in the satchel round the penguins neck, in ‘Hunchback AT The Olympics’ he’s in a cup being thrown from the crowd.
Not many people have a mouse as trade mark :-) but that was a clever way for having one! You have any rough sketch or any other originals still left intact? We do own an original piece of artwork which he did sign, but was never used. It’s 18” x 18” and includes elements of quite a few games like ‘Legion’, ‘Do Do Lair’, ‘Crazy Ballons’, BC’s Quest For Tyres’, Learn With Leaper’, Jet Set Willy’, ‘Manic Miner’, ‘Karls Kaves’ and more. We do have some originals, but most of them will have been kept by Software Projects.
Did he only work for Software Projects, or had he more customers? My Dad was a Commercial Graphic Artist and worked for himself. Software Projects were just one of his clients.
After you seen my collection of my own Software Projects games you said you got happy memories back. Among the covers you saw, do you have any favorite memory you can share? :) I like all his covers, but the ones that stand out are ‘Crypt Capers’, ‘Jet Set Willy II’, and ‘Karls Kaverns’.
Good selection! Jet Set Willy II is just so amazing! Speaking about my collection again, on the picture you also saw that I had games from a company called "Software Super Savers" that was the budget label of Software Projects. Did he even made the art for them as well? Just looking at the covers of the ‘Super Savers’ you can just tell they were my Dads, the artwork speaks for its self.
When did his interest for art begin? My Dad was always interested in art from a young age. He was always doddleing. He went to Art College which lead to him working for an advertising agency in Liverpool before starting on his own.
Did your dad exhibit some of his art for the general public? All his artwork was for work related so he never exhibited.
Are there any more talent relatives regarding art? I’m quite creative and do cross-stitching, but no artwork.
What cover was his first respectively last one? And do you have any exact quantity how many covers your dad did? I don’t know which was his first or last piece of work, and he did at least 20 to 30 pieces.
During the eighties there were LOTS of computermagazines floating around. There were also numerous interviews with fameous musician and but sot as many interviews with great artists. As to interviews, I think the cover designers were not important, so they never bothered to interview them.
I am very pleased to had this great interview with you Susan, so a huge thanks!! :) It was very enjoyable and fun to answer all your questions, thank you too Dan ! :)