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3NES Prints for Bottleneck Gallery Exhibit

By September 6, 2013December 8th, 2016Art Exhibits, Illustration

UPDATE: Nintendo prints are now available for sale online.

So this is cool. I’ve been invited to participate in Bottleneck Gallery’s 3NES exhibit in Brooklyn, NY.

  • Opening Reception is Friday, September, 6th from 7-10 pm EST.
  • Gallery’s online start Saturday, September 7th at 12pm EST.

The show was curated by Joseph Game and, as you may have guessed, it’s Nintendo themed! Each contributing artist was required to create three separate works of art depicting “Super Mario Bros.,” “The Legend of Zelda,” and “Metroid.”

As any old-school Nintendo gamer knows, these selections are the epitome of classic gaming. I have very fond memories of these games, because, like many of you, I grew up playing them.

Deciding what to illustrate for each game was a challenge in itself. I wanted to do something unique with each character and do my best not to simply retread what others have done before. I decided to take a “simplified,” iconic route and keep each drawing focused simply on key characters instead of complex scenes or environments. Each piece related in its approach of using a circular composition made up of three characters – the game’s hero, a little baddie they are trying to bully, and the game’s big boss looming over them.

You might say each drawing gives you a simplified glimpse at their relationship.


Super Mario Bros.- 3NES Bottleneck Gallery Illustration Process by Justin Gammon

Super Mario Bros. – Illustration Process


Nintendo Prints - Koopa Troopa, Mario and Bowser - Giclee Print

Koopa Troopa < Mario < Bowser

In the “Super Mario Brothers” piece, I decided to go with the iconic, shelled Koopa Troopa. I really wanted to capture the shock and fear these turtles must feel as Mario stomps them.  Lucky King Koopa (Bowser) is about to put an end to the abuse. I know the visual style of Bowser and the Koopa Troopa are a more modern take, but the wonky, “ducks with turtles shells” design from the original game design were a bit too contrary to the character designs that have evolved over the years.



The Legend of Zelda - 3NES Bottleneck Gallery Illustration by Justin Gammon

The Legend of Zelda – Illustration Process


Nintendo Prints - Ocotorok, Link and Ganon illustration by Justin Gammon

Octorok < Link < Ganon

The next piece I did for “The Legend of Zelda” was a slight challenge. I wanted to capture the squatty, cartoony style established in the Mario piece while still capturing the essence of the child and teen aged Link. I also depicted Ganon as an amalgam of “The Legend of Zelda” and “A Link to the Past.” In my original doodle, I’d chosen a Tektite as Link’s victim, but I decided the Ocotorok was more iconic. He’s the only other character that’s been in every Zelda game with Link. Not even Ganon has that honor.


Metroid - 3NES Bottleneck Gallery Illustration Process by Justin Gammon

Metroid – Illustration Process

Nintendo Prints - Metroid, Samus and Mother Brain Illustration

Metroid < Samus < Mother Brain

Lastly we have the “Metroid” piece. The challenge here was to draw a brain in a jar and still maintain the cicular composition. I decided to cheat a bit and depict Mother Brain how we’ve seen her in “Super Metroid” and beyond… with a giant robotic, alien body. I really wanted to capture the faceless mystery of Samus that we all experienced as kids playing the original “Metroid” on NES. It wasn’t until later games that her feminism was exploited. I really liked the mysterious galactic bounty hunter approach. Another really great part of this piece was the fact that I finally got to draw a Metroid. They’ve always given me the willies, and I think I’ve perfectly captured the soulless, expressionless killer that is the metroid.


Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, and Metorid Illsutrations for Bottleneck Gallery's 3NES exhibit


Finally having the chance to sit and draw such iconic characters really sparked some excitement in me. These pieces were a real joy and helped me rekindle my childhood fondness for these games.

Now I feel compelled to continue this series. What characters should I tackle next? Mega Man? Castlevania? Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out? What would you like to see?


Justin Gammon

Justin Gammon is an illustrator and designer with a penchant for the weird. This is clearly visible in the bizarre illustrations and animations he creates for the highly lauded and award-winning social media channels for Denny’s Diner.


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