Andrew Bosley: Art in Board Games #26
This week we have Andrew Bosley an illustrator, concept artist, and game designer who has worked on games such as Everdell, Mission: Red Planet, Citadels, and the upcoming Planecrafters and with companies such as Asmodee, Game Salute, and Ubisoft.
Hello Andrew, thanks for taking the time to speak to us. Firstly, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Sure! I grew up in Southern California with a passion for drawing. Had very supportive parents that helped me follow that passion. Took a pretty typical art journey that led to studying illustration at San Jose State University, with my aim to become a visual development artist in feature animation. I interned at Hallmark Cards the summer before my senior year, finished up my BFA in 2006, and then changed directions a little and took a job in video game concept art. I worked in-house at Ubisoft for seven years and then decided to go freelance in 2013. Now I live in cool, northern Arizona with my wife and five kids.
Now we know a little more about you, I have to ask, as a child what did you want to be when you grew up?
I always wanted to be an artist. For a long time, I thought that meant being a Disney animator. Then I decided I wanted to be a children’s book illustrator. I was only exposed to the type of work I ended up in after entering SJSU.
So how did you first get involved in making board games?
I have always loved board games! But it was never something on my radar when it came to work. It was just something I liked to do. After starting my first job as a concept artist in the video game industry, I looked for ways to scratch my illustration itch through freelance work. I got lots of RPG art commissions from the smaller companies. Then some of the bigger publishers took me on. By the time I went full-time freelance, I thought the only options for illustrators in tabletop games was in the RPG market. I went to a fantasy illustration convention looking for opportunities with the biggest publishers and failed miserably. But while there, I met an artist that would soon become a good friend named Bryan Fyffe and he pointed me away from the fantasy illustration rat race towards board games. It was the perfect fit for me and my style. I was fortunate to have established some good connections in the industry and board game jobs starting coming in. Also, when I moved to Arizona, I also started developing my own board game. That led me to GenCon, which led me to lots of new board game clients. While I still do a lot of video game concept art for work, I feel like board games will soon be my long-time home.
When you are working on the art of a board game can you give us a quick overview of your creative or thought process and has this changed at all since you first started?
When it comes to creating the actual illustrations, the process has evolved as I’ve changed as an artist. The process of making the art itself is probably pretty boring to normal people. But I have always had a love of art direction, graphic design, and brand identity and that is probably the thing that I enjoy the most when it comes to creating art for games. Helping to form the overall look of a game/product. When I work of others, I rarely get to look at the big picture in that way. But for my own brands, whether they’re games or apps or stories, I love the process of creating meaningful, iconic themes in style and storytelling.
You were involved in the creation of Mission: Red Planet, so could you tell us a little bit about what that involved and what were the biggest challenges you faced?
Yeah, I had the privilege of doing the cover art and all the character card art for the rebooted Mission: Red Planet. Mission: Red Planet is a great game with some history. Bruno Cathala and Bruno Faidutti created the original back in 2005 with a great artist named Christophe Madura. My job, ten years later, was to create a new look that had some of the influence of the previous version, but could hold up on it’s own and still represent the brand well. Asmodee was a publisher that I had worked with previously and they felt my style would be a good fit for their redesign. Though, I didn’t get to work with either designers during the process, I learned the game and tried to capture the themes and style of the game’s narrative. Then I got to have a lot of fun executing what I thought would make for a cool look!
What was the inspiration or core idea that drove your work on Mission: Red Planet?
It was pretty serendipitous that I was on an Edgar Rice Burroughs binge at the time. I listened to most of the Barsoom audiobooks during the illustrating process. It didn’t necessarily inform the art directly, but it helped me get in the right frame of mind. It wasn’t hard to think about Mars colonization in 1888 with some early 1900’s adventure stories playing in my ears.
What are you currently reading, listening to or looking at to fuel your work?
I really love to listen to audiobooks and podcasts while I work. I recently finished 1776 by David McCullough for the millionth time and I’m now starting the Lord of the Rings series for the millionth time. The podcasts on my regular list are Hardcore History, Trailblazers with Walter Isaacson, the Art of Manliness, and Ludology. Sometimes I throw in some bluegrass music, movie soundtracks, or Enya (that’s right!) when I’m in the mood.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to work in the board game industry?
If it’s board game art, probably the same advice I’d give to any aspiring artist. Never stop learning and practicing! As my professors used to tell me, it’s the mileage that matters. There are plenty of people with pure, raw, exceptional talent, that have their path laid out for them. But the rest of us just need to work hard. For both art and game design, there are so many fantastic resources out there these days. Both are very generous communities. You just need to grab those resources, study, limit the pointless distractions in your life, and start making!
Do you have any current projects underway, or coming up that you’d like (or are able) to tell us about?
I just finished work on the upcoming game Everdell by Starling Games (Game Salute) which kindly showcased my work handsomely. It’s a great game centered around forest themes and woodland critters. When the publisher first pitched it to me, it reminded me of the Redwall book series I grew up reading and I fell in love. Starling Games was very trusting with the art and allowed me to run with it in fun directions. It’s turned out quite charming! On the personal side, my big project currently underway is a new game coming to Kickstarter this summer. It’s a card drafting, tableau building game set in a fantasy Golden Age of Aviation called Planecrafters. I created it with a good friend and we’ve been working on it for over 2 years now. It’s got a unique game style with a unique art style (that I had lots of fun designing) and it’s something I’m really proud of! Jump to our site www.paisleyboardgames.com for more info!
Finally, if we’d like to see more of you and your work, where can we find you?
My portfolio site is www.bosleyart.com, but you can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
(All images provided by and copyright of Andrew Bosley).