In a market so saturated with new tabletop games released every month, a great cover is a must. Here's a look at Everdell and other fantastic works of Andrew, the man responsible for illustrating one of the most beautiful board game art of 2018.
Hey Andrew, thank you for making your time! First up, could you tell us a bit about yourself?
Sure! Well, I’m a freelance illustrator and concept artist working, primarily, in the tabletop and video game industries. I graduated from San Jose State University in 2006 with a BFA in Illustration, then moved to North Carolina to work full-time for Ubisoft on their many different brands. In 2013, I left Ubisoft to work as a freelancer and moved to Arizona. I continue to do a lot of concept work and marketing illustration for video games, but, for the past year, my client work has been 90% board games. I have a wonderful wife and 5 great and wild kids and we’re all board gamers. When I’m not working on client projects and spending time with my family, I’m dreaming up worlds, stories, and games of my own.
One of the most frequently asked questions by amateur artists is "how to find my style". How would you answer that question?
I think all artists ask that at some point. The best counsel on the subject I’ve ever received is that your style emerges on its own after hundreds of hours of working on a deadline when you don’t have time to think about your style. It’s not unimportant, but you can’t force style. A more fruitful pursuit is academic knowledge and practice. Drawing skill is something you develop independent of style. Drawing is the foundation of every medium, traditional or digital. If you learn to draw well, you’ll be a better artist and style will come on its own.
This is more of a personal question but... When you have five kids, is there such a thing as work-life balance? :) How do you do it? (I have a 1 year old who overruns my life haha).
Great question! It’s not easy, but I’ve definitely had to develop a very clear work/home boundary. When I first started freelancing full-time, I worked in my closet. It was small and I could hear everything that was going on with the family. If there was a problem, it was hard to not stop and help. Now, I’m fortunate enough to have a separate space in building next to my house. Every day, I leave the house, go to work, and I’m there until the day is done. It’s better for my wife—who likes to have her own space—and it’s better for getting things done. When it’s closing time, I leave work in my office and come home and put my dad hat on. Help with homework and chores. Play games. Help my wife in any way I can. After the kids are in bed and my wife and I are cooling down in front of the TV, I sometimes get in a little more work in. The boundaries are important. On top of that, I’m a very strict scheduler of my time which is important for balancing home and work, but also balancing multiple projects at one time.
Has working on board games impacted the way you relate with your kids?
A little perhaps. We certainly play more board games than ever before. But board games have been a family hobby long before I was involved in the industry.
How exactly did you end up transitioning into the board game industry and what was the first game you had worked on?
After a couple years of working in video games, I started developing freelance opportunities on the side. That started in RPG fantasy illustration and I stayed there for a very long time. Then one of the companies I had worked with for a while, Fantasy Flight Games, contacted me about a board game opportunity. They were rebooting Bruno Faidutti’s Mission: Red Planet and thought my style would fit well. I had a great time with that and I was fortunate enough to be asked to do something similar the following year with Bruno’s Citadels. Those opened the doors to Everdell and Everdell has opened the door to a completely new direction in my career.
What is one of your lesser known works that you'd love to see get more attention? Could you tell us a bit about that game?
Well, I’m actually very proud of Planecrafters, which I both illustrated and designed (with a partner). It’s got great reviews from lots of industry leaders (Ryan Laukat, Bruno Faidutti, David Somerville, etc.), but just didn’t get the circulation it deserved. We funded on KS, fulfilled to everyone, but now we have a surplus of games just sitting around :(
Now let's talk about Everdell—What was the main vision behind the art and how do you think your style/experience helped accomplish that vision?
All of us on the team were fans of the Redwall book series and that was a great common inspiration. I read the series when I was a kid and I loved the whimsical setting and characters combined with somewhat realistic danger and drama. While Everdell is much less dangerous, I thought adding a little bit of that realism in the style would really allow the players to feel enveloped in a world of the game, in addition to fun gameplay.
I really like the whimsical, subtle humour behind your illustrations on Everdell. Were you given a very detailed brief for the illustrations or is this just your inner child on display?
There were briefs, given by art director Dann May, but they were very loose. Dann and the team really gave me the freedom to take the illustrations where I wanted to go.
A little off topic but... Have you ever considered making your own children's book?
Yes... I’m actually working on one right now. I love world building and the story of this particular world has been in the works for a while. When I get the chance, it’s a world I want to see in children’s books, games, and other mediums.
Which scenery/character did you enjoy illustrating the most while working on Everdell?
The Ranger will always be my favorite. He’s subtle, but he’s got a long story :)
What was the most challenging aspect of working on Everdell? How did you deal with it and did it play out any differently when working on the expansion?
Frankly, the biggest challenge for both was time. Creatively, I got to play with both in the most ideal way. Dann was an amazing art director that way. But I was limited on time to accomplish both, Pearlbrook in particular, as I was already busy with other client work when I was tasked with the work.
What was your most memorable moment working on Everdell? In general, what do you find most rewarding about working on board games?
Creating the cover for Everdell was a huge highlight! It's the piece that sums it all up and ties all the other together. I don’t always play highly thematic games, but, as an illustrator, those are my bread and butter. And I believe board games are a new medium perfect for getting lost in the experience, similar to film, books, and video games. When I get to help people have that sort of experience, and Everdell has done that to a smaller degree, it's extremely rewarding.
Do you want to work on more board games in the future? What kind of genre/category would you like to explore?
I hope to be in board games for the rest of my life. I’ve always been a fan and I love the community! The mechanics of the games I work on are less important to me. As long as I can create something that feels epic in scale, I’m excited.
Are there any exciting developments in the works that you'd like to share with us?
Yes! I’m developing some more games of my own, as well as some bigger plans that I have to keep the lid on for the moment. But those that want to be in the know first, should sign up for my newsletter at bosleyart.com.
And lastly, what is your dream project?
Anything epic and whimsical!
Thank you Andrew for making your time!
Readers, please feel free to leave comments/questions below for Andrew, any of the games mentioned, or for myself!
If you'd like to see more of Andrew's awesome art, follow him below:
Below are my links to past interviews:
- Victoria Ying, artist of Bargain Quest
- Alexandr Elichev, artist of Gloomhaven
- Atha Kanaani, artist of the Pandemic series
- Jamey Stegmaier of Stonemaier Games
- Victor Pérez Corbella, artist of Champions of Midgard
- Sabrina Miramon, artist of Photosynthesis
- Ruwen Liu, artist of Cake Duel
- Kyle Ferrin, artist of Root
- Dan and Connie Kazmaier, designers of Chai
- Martin Wallace, designer of Brass
- Phil Walker-Harding, designer of Sushi Go!
- Sandy Petersen, designer of Cthulhu Wars