How do you take something as boring (though admitedly useful) as a public transit map and make it fun? By injecting video game characters into it. Digital artist Dave Delisle is the creator of works such as MarioBART, which turns the map of the San Francisco Bay Area-based tranist system into a fun piece of 16-bit Mario Kart-themed art.

Nerd culture means a great deal to Delisle, who has given similar treatment to the maps of other transit systems. On his blog, Dave’s Geeky Ideas, you can find Blu-ray packaging concepts of his favorite movies and TV shows, wall sockets based on Super Mario Bros., and lawn ornaments inspired by The Legend of Zelda.

GamesBeat: Could I carry MarioBART around the Bay Area and use it for mass transit? Would I get where I want to go?

Dave Delisle: Feedback from locals is that the map is very accurate! I did my best to ensure every stop was marked clearly. Having said that, the lack of truly apparent terrain and landmarks might make this tough for a tourist, so I’d say you’d do OK, but not as well as a local.Voltron_Dave_Geeky_ideas

GamesBeat: You use Inkscape, Gimp, and Maya Learning Edition for your art. They’re free. Did you learn all the software on your own?

Delisle: I went to school for Maya. The other two were self-taught — lots of Googling. I am still learning to use Maya effectively. You could probably notice my improvement artistically from the start of the blog in early 2010.

GamesBeat: I take it that geeky design is more of a hobby?

Delisle: It has become a hobby, that is for sure. Prior to all this, I did very little art for myself besides some sketching. I could always draw well.

GamesBeat: Is your day job related to design?

Delisle: Yes, I do mostly freelance art or animation. I have a lot of input creatively for both, so I am helping on the design side, not just churning out art.

GamesBeat: Would you turn this into full-time a job if you could?

Delisle: It’s something I am considering. I do OK for traffic and get a lot of attention from many other sites and some media outlets. Perhaps one day down the road, if this continues to grow, I’ll turn it into a full-time gig.

GamesBeat: Have any major companies contacted you about working for them?

Delisle: Several companies have tracked me down. The only one I can openly mention is Voltron, WEP [World Event Productions]. They’re not ashamed to be seen with me.

GameBeat: What’s the most difficult piece you’ve created?

Delisle: Probably the first Mario 3 map I did last year for Vancouver’s Skytrain line. It was the first time I really attempted pixel art on that scale. I’m starting to get the hang of it!


Above: One of the most challenging pieces Dave has created is the Vancouver Skytrain Map. Getting the pixels to have an authentic look proved difficult.

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GamesBeat: If you could turn one of your designs into a reality, what would it be?

Delisle: That answer changes every day. The one I really like now are these Zelda lawn ornaments I thought would be neat. Seeing those strewn about a yard would bring a smile to my face every time.


GameBeat: What TV show are you following right now?

Delisle: Community! The world would be a better place if it drew half the audience The Big Bang Theory does.

GamesBeat: What game is getting the most playtime right now?

Delisle: Telltale’s The Walking Dead for PC. Brilliant game. L.A. Noire is a close second.

GamesBeat: What’s your favorite game of all time?

Delisle: Without a doubt: Super Metroid for the SNES. Made such a huge impression on me. Only a few games have came close to equaling its impact — Grand Theft Auto III, Halo, Half Life 2, Portal.

Delisle doesn’t sell most of his designs, because they are based on other’s properties. He just enjoys what he does. You can check out more of his work at his blog, Daves Geeky Ideas, or his other site, Dave’s Geeky Hockey.