Gil - Tell us a little bit about yourself. When did you start to work with illustrations and how this path led you to board games?
Chris -I am an artist from the States. I live in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It is a great place to live with a vibrant art community and its very cheap to live here.
Like many people I drew a lot as a kid. The difference between people who are artists and people who are not is not natural talent. Everyone draws, some people just never stop and these are the people that become artists. So I have been drawing all my life. I finally realized I wanted to be an illustrator shortly after going to college in Florida. I was interested in many forms of illustration but never considered it for board games.
Gil - How many games have you done the artwork for, and in which projects are you working right now?
Chris - To be honest I am very new to board game illustration. I have only done art for one board game. A couple of indie game designers saw my work and thought that I fit the style they needed very well.
The game is called Copper Country and is a “euro game” style board game about copper mining in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in the 1800’s. I love history so it was great to work on a game that was based in real life and focused on a specific regions history that I never knew anything about.
The game was successfully funded on Kickstarter and I have been invited to do the artwork on another game that is in the works. Unfortunately I can’t say too much about it at this point but it involves building structures using blocks.
Gil - Your style varies from the more “serious” or to the more cartoonish, how do you coordinate the line of work for the different styles of board games?
Chris - I have always been bored with sticking to one type of style. I like to try a bunch of different styles, some happen to be dark and others happen to be more cartoonish. I think that this is a big advantage for me because if someone needs a board game that is dark and serious I can do it. If someone needs a light hearted cartoony style I can do that as well. It gives me the opportunity to work on a variety of projects that I think are exciting. I like to switch styles from time to time. It is like wanting to eat something different for dinner each evening. I don’t want to eat the same thing over and over. I don’t want to make art in the same style over and over.
Gil - where do you get your inspiration and how do you do the research for your drawings?
Chris - I have a very large collection of books that I draw reference from. It is very easy to search for research online but I like to have a physical book that I can feel and touch. Maybe I am old fashioned but having a bunch of photo or illustration books is very cool to me. I get inspiration from many places but I usually like to look at older artists. Gustav Dore is a favorite of mine. Lorenzo Mattotti is an amazing contemporary artist.
Gil - How do you credit the success of a game to its illustrations? How important they are to the success of a game?
Chris - Honestly I think they (the illustrations) will always come second to the gameplay. The gameplay is most important. A beautiful game with terrible gameplay is nothing. It is like watching a really cool movie with amazing CGI effects and cool design but the acting and story are horrible. Like the Transformer movies, have you ever seen those? They look awesome but the story sucks. Same thing with games: If the art is stunning but the gameplay is terrible or does not make sense then ultimately the game isn’t a success.
Gil - Which are your favorite games and your favorite games designers?
Chris - I am pretty new to board games so I don’t have a favorite game or designer. I like games that I have fun playing with other people. If the experience with the other players is fun and social then I really enjoy the game. I recently played Settlers of Catan and I had a great time. I also like Axis and Allies but that is mostly because of the historical value.
Gil - Do you think that board games can be use for an education purpose?
Chris - Absolutely! Children love to play games and sometimes the best way to teach someone is visually. We are visual creatures and complex ideas and thoughts can be taught with simple visuals.
Gil - What you know about Portugal? Have you ever visited Portugal?
Chris - I am embarrassed to say that I don’t know very much about Portugal except that they were excellent explorers and ship builders. I know that the language is hard to learn compared to other languages.
Gil - Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions, and we hope to see many more of your artwork in the future.