Artist Comparison – Kekai Kotaki and Simon Stålenhag

Kekai Kotaki is a freelance Hawaiin concept artist who focuses on landscapes, he started out working with ArenaNet and work his way up to a “Lead Concept Artist” from a texture artist. His now freelance after leaving ArenaNet, after celebrating his 8th year working there.

Whereas Simon Stålenhag is a Swedish freelance artist and musician who works entirely on self-initiated projects. Stålenhag’s primarily consists of landscapes with two recurring characters traversing multiple plains. (As taken from Artist Comparison – Cedric Peyravernay and Simon Stålenhag. Link to: ).

Materials and Mediums…

Both Kotaki and Stålenhag use custom brushes within Photoshop. Both also use their concept art/ digital paintings to visually tell a story. Kotaki does this in a singular image, whereas Stålenhag does this over a series of images. His work consistently appears within either a dark fantasy or high fantasy setting.

I believe Stålenhag does visual storytelling better, due to the fact that he allows a story to be told over several pieces allowing the story time to grow. But that doesn’t mean that he isn’t good at visual storytelling he just doesn’t devote as much time to a singular story as Stålenhag does.

Where Kotaki paint’s within a fantasy universe, Stålenhag paints a not so distant dystopian future of an intrusive government an anarchist inspired society. This gives his work a brutally realistic feel, as he takes not of social/ political events and takes an accurate estimation so that he can draw out his view of the future. By the looks of things, no one wins in Stålenhag’s dystopian future.


In conclusion, both of these artists are spectacular concept artist/ digital painters who use their art to visually tell a story but go about it slightly different ways to varying results.


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