Our first fan interview of 2015 is a bumper edition that will be published in two parts due to its length. Meet Ana & Inna, the two talented ladies behind the popular DeviantArt group, Tomb Raider Empire!
Here’s what they have to say about the Tomb Raider franchise, their fan art community, and their own art work. Part Two of their interview can now be found here.
So, tell us a little about yourself.
– Ana: I’m from Croatia, soon to be 24, still in university and majoring in fashion design. But my true love for art resides in a different form, as I’m mostly a realist pencil artist. You can check out my deviantArt gallery here. I’m a casual gamer and mostly like to play old games which were a big part of my childhood. Things that I love: pencils, my boyfriend, Inna, my beagle, hyperventilating over Tomb Raider, music, movies, and chocolate cookies.
– Inna: And I’m a 25-year-old who spent 5 precious years of her life studying for a degree in English and German, graduating from uni with a diploma in these subjects just to realize a year later that my true passion is art and that’s what I want to do in life. So I’m a freelance illustrator and concept artist now, crazily in love with what I’m doing, and also getting hyperventilation attacks over Tomb Raider with my beloved lady soulmate, Ana. If you want to drop by and say “Hi”, here’s where my artsy things reside.
Ana (left) and Inna (right)
When and how did you learn about the Tomb Raider series?
– Ana: I learned about the series when I got the PS1 console for my 11th birthday. My cousin would constantly bring new games home for us to play and one day he brought Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation. It was the first TR game I ever played (was never good enough to beat it till I reached my late teens and got determined enough to do it) so it remained my favourite from the series, although TR2 comes right after it.
– Inna: I’ve always been a huge fan of quest games, not shooters though. One day back at university I asked my friend to find me some nice new quest. She brought me a game saying “It’s a quest game, there’s only a little bit of shooting”. It was Tomb Raider Anniversary. Never trusted that little lady again (just kidding) and that’s when my TR love story began.
Do you run a Tomb Raider fansite or blog? If so, what would you say was your biggest achievement to date?
– Ana & Inna: We run a Tomb Raider fan group on deviantArt, Tomb-Raider-Empire. What comes with it is that we got connected with the wonderful fan community expanding outside of dA, which never would have happened had it not been for our dreams with the group. We’re very well aware that we’re way more enthusiastic about what we do than the members actually are (apart from the few dozen who continuously support us <3 ) but it’s a labour of love, it’s something we enjoy and did for own thrill and pleasure in the first place. We think we’re doing okay 🙂
We think our biggest achievement is having the group going in the exact direction we wanted it to. There were several TR-related art groups on deviantArt already but we wanted to do something different and we think we did it. We planned the group’s design, purpose and projects for about a year before bringing it all to life, thinking it would be a great achievement to have even 1000 members join us. Now we’re over 4,500 members strong, collecting beautiful fan art, participating in the community, and making up a few fun projects of our own. What makes our group different is that we decided not just to collect art, but to be there for fans when it comes to all things TR; to be a part of the fandom, not just collect pretty pictures. Over the years, some other groups undertook a similar path but we’re proud of having started it. Our design is already a bit outdated but we’ll soon get to fixing that too. So forgive our childish drawings in there. It was almost 4 years ago! We’ve improved, we promise. 😉
How has Tomb Raider changed your life?
– Ana & Inna: We can speak as a team when we say that Tomb Raider really has changed our lives in a strange way. Some of the best things happened because of it. First of all, that’s how we met each other and became best friends in no time, communicating on some sort of subconscious spiritual level. 😀 Our mutual interest in TR and art brought us to what we’re doing now, because together we put our heart and soul into our collaborations (the biggest of them being the group we mentioned). It’s a way to channel our passion and childlike dreams into something useful and meaningful in our own way. You know what they say, the time you enjoy wasting was not really wasted. When we do our thing, we act all grown up like as if it’s an actual job. 🙂
We’ve also met one of the best people in the world: Ahmad. He runs Tomb Raider Arabia and helps us tremendously with the group. We wouldn’t be where we are today if not for his help. He’s an artist too, so give him a warm hug here.
– Inna: And I personally owe Lady Croft more than I can ever repay. She is the one that inspired me to start doing art, which eventually became the biggest thing in my life. There’s this amazing feeling of always being happy once you start doing the thing you were meant to do. Lara, my dear, I’m endlessly grateful to you for that. For that and a million other awesome things which I won’t even start naming or this will be a huge wall of text longer than the Great Wall of China.
Were you interested in archaeology before discovering Tomb Raider? Have the Tomb Raider games and films inspired you to learn more about ancient history?
– Ana: No, and definitely yes. I think I was too young to pick up an interest in archaeology, actually, but after discovering the games and falling in love with them, the love for ancient places and history came along too. I was mostly enchanted by Egypt (typical) and did some research from books, internet, and documentaries. I must say I’m still just a amateur and don’t possess as much knowledge as I would like to.
– Inna: I did love adventure and exploration stuff before, but was never interested enough in something to actually research it. TR totally changed that. I fell in love with ancient cultures and mythology and started researching a lot since then. I mean, c’mon, Lara can’t always be the smartest one, can she?
Part 2 of Ana and Inna’s fan interview can be found over here.
A huge thanks to Ana and Inna for taking the time to participate in our series of fan interviews. If you’re looking for amazing Tomb Raider fan art, be sure to check out their DeviantArt galleries (Ana’s, Inna’s, and their combined account) or join their DeviantArt group, Tomb Raider Empire. You can also find them on Twitter, @LaraRobsGraves.
If you enjoyed this interview and want to read others like it, you can find an archive of all our fan interviews over here.