The Work of Harmonix Artist Matt Perlot

Matt Perlot, or Perly to his fellow HMXers, bears a striking resemblance to the angular characters he deftly draws at work. Just like Perly his characters say a lot with only a little, giving clues to a deeper back story. I was psyched to hear he found a home at HMX soon after college. In my life before Harmonix, as his college classmate, I had never met someone who knew more about video games of all kinds, past and present, than Perly. 

Matt attended Massachusetts College of Art & Design in Boston, MA majoring in Illustration and Animation with a focus on figurative work. As a student at MassArt Matt garnered a reputation for his unique penchant for video games comparable to how a wine enthusiast lusts after bottles owned by Thomas Jefferson. Every console ever (it seems) has passed through the Perlot household since his birth.

When asked about pursuing a career in video games Matt quickly answered, “Always wanted to.” Matt is the proud owner of many of the consoles and games from his youth. I remember living down the hall from Matt when he was the first person in the dorms freshman year to own a Playstation 2; this was a huge deal at the time not to mention a big ticket item. “It plays games AND DVDs!” Whoa. Video games have always been a big influence on Matt as an artist. 

Matt has a short list of artists & directors he admires and that inspire him on a personal level, "Artist/director Peter Chung for his character stylization and ability to find beauty in ugliness and Director Mamoru Oshii for his atmosphere and methodical pacing, character artist Toshiaki "Shinkiro" Mori for the personalities he creates.” He also cites the NEO GEO console & SNK Studios as both an influence and an inspiration. Matt also relishes in dystopias and the idea of surviving in a futuristic, graphic run down world. “The cyber-punk genre in general, urban culture, high fashion, and stylization of the human form are big inspirations for me.”

A trio of orthos designed by Perly

As a sophomore at MassArt Matt got a chance to come and play test Amplitude at Harmonix during the game’s development. This great experience opened up the idea of working on games after art school and not having to move across the country to do it.

“First job out of school was at an internet start up doing illustrations for the web followed by a paid internship at Stainless Steel game development studios.” Along the way Matt kept in touch with HMX from his play testing days, making connections with Art Director Ryan Lesser and fellow MassArt grads. He joined at Harmonix when an artist position opened up pitching in one off character designs for Guitar Hero 2.

The Beast Slayer

The male and female metal shops in Rock Band were areas where Matt made outfits developing a library of garments for characters in the Metal & Goth shops. These outfits bring to mind the post-apocalyptic fashions of the Conan The Barbarian and Mad Max films, yet they are still believable as outfits for Rock Band. Giant teeth and skulls adorn these beast slayer clothes and they are some of the more (no pun intended) untamed outfit options for your characters and bands.

The Summoner

Between Rock Band and Rock Band 2 Matt also contributed a bit of promotional art for Rock Band. Matt has a knack of revealing a great deal about a character’s personal history with a few simple details; a face scar here, a homemade tattoo there, etc.

Rock Band promotional art

In this piece we can see the casual side of a band after practice, or maybe they are getting ready for a show. We witness the goofy arguing between bandmates from one or two late nights of practice or some kind of snarky comment from the singer.

A beauty shot of "Shiv"

Outside of Harmonix Matt makes time to participate in creative projects of his own. Here we see “Shiv”, a character designed for a contest at Game Artisans ( Working in 3d gives Matt a chance to step outside of the Rock Band world and get grimy. Shiv adds a bit of dark humor covered in scars, scabs, sneers and flab. It’s easy to picture a post apocalyptic, hazardous neighborhood where Shiv thrives with his home made tools and evil looking grin.

Concept drawings for "Shiv"

Check out more of Perly’s work in Rock Band & Rock Band 2 or bring this thread on the forums back to life: