Mario-splosion! | Vector Paths

At the end of the month the new Mario game, Mario Odyssey, will be released by Nintendo. This has me rather excited, so I wanted to do an icon set that would incorporate Mario to get ready for the hype that will be sweeping the internet very soon. I had two original ideas, the first being doing a set based around the enemies and objects that Mario can “capture” with his magic hat in the upcoming game. The second was creating a set themed around the many outfits and costume that Mario will be wearing to solve puzzles. I decided to go with the second idea as I felt it would have better cohesion as a complete set.

Mario Sketches

I started by planning on how I wanted to present Mario face, as I planned on leaving it mostly the same between all the outfits. Then I went about deciding which headwear I wanted to focus on as there have been many options revealed in pre-release coverage of the game. Right before I began to create the actual icons, I decided I wanted to blend both Mario Odyssey and Paper Mario, one of my favorite series of games.

Mario Odyssey Icons

While they were only a draft, I was happy with these first six icons and where the collection was going. As I met with my art director, he said that these felt more derivative than transformative, and challenged me to push my creativity and try something different. While this was not the answer I was looking for, I desire to grow my skill and creativity, and this was the perfect opportunity to push myself. I accepted his challenge, and after discussing it with him, decided I was going to do a set with Mario represented from many different shows and realities.

Transformed Mario Sketches

I went back to my whiteboard and started listing and sketching possibilities for my transported plumber set. I decided that Mario’s hat and mustache are the most iconic themes about him, so those had to be in every icon in some form or another. I also wanted to split things up between different media, specifically games, animation and art.

Rick and Morty Mario

After finishing the draft of the icon pictured above, I showed it to my art director again to see how he felt about the direction I was going. He like most of it, but said I needed to lose the strokes completely or accentuate them, as he did not want thin black strokes in any icons. I took that advice as the major thing to look out for and went to completing the whole group.

Different Mario Icons

My final collection of icons is built of 4 gaming Marios, 4 animation Marios, and 4 art Marios. While every Mario uses different elements to represent the source material, his iconic hat and mustache are utilized in different ways to make sure every icon feels like Mario. I feel like I was able to create original, transformative work, while still focusing on Mario since people are hyping his new, upcoming game.


Parker Ogden is an interdisciplinary student with focusing on a concentration in visual communication. He grew up in Redding, California, and now lives in Rexburg, Idaho with his wife Emily. Parker enjoys board sports of all kinds and team-driven innovation.

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