Stephen Bliss

Stephen Bliss’ client list includes Jim Henson’s Creature Shop.

While we’d usually be content to ruminate on that pièce de résistance, even our fixation on puppets can’t eclipse the sensation that is Stephen Bliss, senior artist at Rockstar Games. That Grand Theft Auto III game your girlfriend threatened to throw out if you wouldn’t get off the couch? That was his design on the cover. Vice City, too. And The Warriors. With a talent for acidic stencil and bruising cartoon mayhem, Bliss’ start with eccentric Japanese fashion label Hysteric Glamour in ’86 led to an unquestionably vivid freelance design and illustration career. Upon his return to London in ’89, he proceeded with that grave business of Muppet branding, as well as finding homes for his quirky, hard-edged aesthetic at GQ, TIME, FCUK, The Cartoon Network, Burton Snowboards, and Wall of Sound Records and participating in a number of international art shows before joining Rockstar.

Based on the title alone, you should notice a nod to STEROID, the t-shirt design and merchandise company he started with brother Robert, in Bliss’ slipmat designs. Lean in just a bit and you might also notice an acerbic English wit compromised by a [dare we say?] reluctantly poetic spirit: “A painting of a naked woman – as beautiful as the wilting flower she holds close to her chest – and a superhero called Captain Steroid – a man of fury with great strength and loosening abdominals. There’s something here for everyone. I hope this stimulates discussion.” If you’re skeptical of such a soft sentiment amid all the dayglo madness, it should be noted that Bliss’ first album was Disney’s Peter Pan. Okay, now discuss.