If this year's reveal of Elden Ring showed one thing, it's that the appetite for Fromsoft's more Soulsy games remains as ravenous as ever. Yes the rest of the industry has picked the bones out of those games, and there's no shortage of B-tier challengers, but nothing has come close: to the extent that, when Elden Ring basically turned up looking like Dark Souls 4, most everyone just thought 'great!'
Youtuber Vaatividya has made a career out of a soothing Australian accent and piecing together community lore in well-produced videos—he's been around for yonks, and tends to be the go-to recommendation for anyone just getting into the series and its lore. Vaati some time ago began running fan art competitions that are always hugely popular, something that caught the eye of Dublin-based publisher Tune & Fairweather, ran by former Edge man Jason Killingsworth. Tune & Fairweather's signature project is a lavishly produced edition of the Dark Souls tome You Died, by Killingsworth and Keza Macdonald, so you can probably guess what happened next.
Soul Arts: Presented by Vaatividya is a hardback coffee table book, designed by longtime Edge art editor Andrew Hind, that collects and reproduces the pick of the Soulsborne community's fan art alongside commentary from the Youtuber [disclosure: I used to work with Andrew Hind way back in the day]. The five art competitions the work is drawn from were all themed, so the book contains these sections: New Sekiro Prosthetics; Unseen lands of Dark Souls; Elden Ring Boss Challenge; Demon's Souls Sixth Archstone; and finally Imagining Bloodborne 2.
The project only launched a few days ago but is already wildly successful, sailing past the half million mark with 27 days to go (it's currently at roughly £530,000). The hunger for something, anything new relating to these games is real. There's still plenty of time to hop on, though given the production values of this thing a physical copy will set you back £52/$72 plus shipping, though there are various tiers with extras, and you can even buy one signed by Vaati.
One of the questions I had was whether the featured artists will benefit from the book's success. Jason Killingsworth says that all the artists have already been paid a licensing fee based on the project's original funding goal, but "the campaign has destroyed all our projections for how well it might perform. Hence, plans are being ironed-out behind the scenes for how we might share a portion of that extra bounty with the contributors who have made its success possible. There should be an announcement from Vaati in the near future regarding that follow-up artist contribution."
"With the You Died campaign, we used some of the extra proceeds to print art cards and stickers to include with orders to show our gratitude to supporters of the campaign and we have some fresh ideas for how we want to create extra value for backers," writes Killingsworth. "As with the other topic, we want to have something more concrete to tease that, but we expect to communicate those plans via a project update to backers in the coming days."