Rocket League is honoring Black History Month by dropping FREE Artist Bundles in the Item Shop! This week, we see the vibrantly smooth artwork of Taj Francis, a Jamaican-born artist who we’ve collaborated with to create the matching Parallel Decal, Avatar Border, and Player Banner. Get the FREE Parallel by Taj Francis Bundle in the Item Shop via the in-game Black History Month Tab from now until February 28. Don’t forget we've also got one final Bundle drop coming soon!
Parallel by Taj Francis Bundle (Free)
Parallel Avatar Border
Parallel Player Banner
Meet the Artist
One of the first things to note about Taj Francis is his expansive breadth of work. From design to animation, clothing, and public works, Taj uses a variety of mediums to explore anachronistic ideas of African ancestry.
Many of his artworks tell part of a larger story, and a subtle but strong sense of world-building permeates his work. Nature and technology also feature heavily in his explorations, serving to inspire deeper introspection when the two are combined. We found time during our collaboration to ask Taj a few questions about his art, video games, and his life as an artist.
Q. Could you walk us through your journey and how you cultivated a place in the art industry?
A. The first "job" I ever had in the art industry was when I interned at my uncle's design studio for a short stint before going to art school. He's the one that encouraged me on this path honestly, so while in school, and after graduating, I cut my teeth on doing posters for reggae bands, making a clothing brand, and miscellaneous projects here and there. It really helped me to work out my own artistic style and focus on the type of work I wanted to create. With that, I got into doing exhibitions, mural art, and other projects for different companies.
Azimuth, Offering, and Sun Engine. Part of the "Gilded Suns" series by Taj Francis
Q. Your art transcends the canvas, and you’ve created many larger pieces like murals. What kind of energy do you bring to your art for each different medium?
A. I've learned many things working in different mediums, and I'm still constantly learning. The things I learned doing acrylics, and digital paintings, I've applied to my mural work and vice versa. Working on large-scale murals comes with a level of planning that isn't typical for other types of work, but there is also a social aspect to it. People are seeing you create in real-time, which isn't normally the case when working in a studio, around other artists, or by yourself. It almost becomes like a performance piece in itself, so I think about the "audience" a little more than I would when painting on my own. It does feel like more pressure, but I learn from it and remember to adapt.
Q. A lot of your work touches on black ancestry and history. Is this an overall message you feel your art explores or is each piece of art its own individual statement?
A. Everything is a part of an overall message. I think there is so much to still say when it comes to works of black heritage and stories. There are so many stories to be told from even African and Black history, that popular media hasn't even scratched the surface of. So much lore, so much wonder that people wouldn't believe. I want to do my part in that, in giving the world more visuals, and stories that reflect a history that we haven't seen told. Unfortunately, a large part of our history is damaged due to colonialism, but I feel that even in a fictional sense, if we could tap into our histories and combine them with our imaginations, we could create something inspirational. We could see a world that has never been seen.
Q. Is there a part of your artistic process that you enjoy the most?
A. This might sound counter to the question, but the moment I love the most is when I decide that it's done. Sometimes an artwork is never really finished until you decide it is, and it's just the best moment for me. This is because you let go of the doubt, and you trust everything that you did up to that point. It's no longer in your hands. There is a joy at this moment that is incomparable to anything else during the whole process for me, and it's only possible because of everything that proceeds it. It's a feeling that can only be gained through actual time, work, and effort and I cherish that feeling so much.
Artist Taj Francis
Q. Different people gravitate towards different types of games. Is there a genre of game that you find really speaks to you?
A. Wow, it's very hard to pick. I grew up playing a lot of multiplayer games—it was one of the ways I've bonded with my brothers, so it has a strong place in my heart. But I also love single-player games. There is a solitude that I love from them. Honestly, I think more than a specific genre, I love games that combine the two in some ways. I've gotten a lot into soulslike games (I may or may not have spent the pandemic playing a lot of Fromsoft’s catalog) like "Bloodborne" and "Elden Ring", that are single-player but have an element of multiplayer with messages left from other players or even the ability to call for help. Especially "Death Stranding" that has asynchronous multiplayer, where other players leave helpful messages and tools, it fulfills that feeling of solitude, while also remembering you're not alone. Even so, nothing beats a good laugh playing multiplayer games, Rocket League gave me some of the best laughs even while losing miserably.
Q. What do you think about video games as an interactive art form?
A. I think games like "Journey" and "Inside" are some of the best pieces of art, in general and not just as a video game. There is a feeling you get from video games that you can't get from anything else, it's an irreplaceable medium. A large part of being a human, and being a person is enjoying life, touching it, and interacting with it. Video games give you a method of directly interacting with your own enjoyment, versus more passive engagement. If we think about books, sports, solving puzzles, these are things in line with our need to interact with and participate in our own enjoyment, games fall in line with these things. We enjoy art right, so why not also be an active participant in that enjoyment?