What artists do the International Ludigang members appreciate the most?
This year Ludigurl is putting together an international panel of board game enthusiasts. The main purpose for this International Ludigang will be to regularly give multiple and often diametrically opposing answers to specific board game related questions and quandaries. I am really a stoked about this project, and I hope you will enjoy it as much as we’re having fun setting it in motion.
Click on the person of your choice to read what they have to say on the subject.
When a boardgame is discussed, usually the designer(s) are mentioned, in addition to the publishing house, and sometimes also the distributor. Much less common is the acknowledgement of the illustrator and/or the artist. And yet it is their work that is initially communicated through advertising, boardgame media, store shelfs, etc. Additionally, the distinct look of the game, its general appearance, the beauty and elegance of the graphical features, and the often painstakingly detailed illustrations, are crucial for the thematic immersion as well as the entire gaming experience.
Many talented artists like Vincent Joassin, and Vincent Dutrait to name but a few, lend themselves to this difficult but important task. I must confess though, that the feminine illustrator whose art touches me the most, is Christine Alcouffe. The finesse of his drawings, the color palettes she chooses, her ability to perfectly adapt heri style to each individual game universe make her one of my favorite artist.
Some people, or maybe even most, buy games created by a certain game designer. I’m more inclined though to make a purchase because of a game´s illustrator. And if Christine Alcouffe is mentioned on the box, then it’s almost an auto-buy for me, because even if the mechanisms aren’t necessarily to my particular liking, I know that I will enjoy the game anyway and that it will capture my attention, due to the amazing illustrations and her unique art style.
If you are curious about Christine Alcouffe’s work, here are some recently published game titles that she has made the illustrations for : Yokai, Pharaon and Baron Voodoo.
I think art is so important in board games! It can be the difference between engaging with the theme and not, and in turn for me that can be the difference between enjoying the game or not. Having said that art is such a diverse subject and tastes vary so much. It’s this variety that makes our shelves so attractive and new titles so exciting! There are so many artists whose work I adore but if I had to pick a favourite I think right now it would be Andrew Bosley.
Andrew has become a huge name in the industry over the last few years working on some incredible games such as Everdell, Tapestry, Keyforge, Love Letter, Tungaru and so many more. I first noticed his work when I happened across a copy of Everdell in my FLGS, it was the first time We bought a game based solely on the art. His colourful style conveyed so much life and action from every 2D image while melding perfectly with the graphic design. From that moment if I hear Andrew Bosley is involved in a project I’m immediately interested regardless of publisher or designer. That’s got to be the mark of a great board game illustrator!
Why I like Kyle Ferrin’s art?
If I could resume his work I’ll would say: “In simplicity lies great details”. Yeah… I know… It’s kind of a deep thought but summarizes the main objective that this guy’s work impact me. How I became knowing Kyle Ferrin’s work was through ROOT (currently my fav game for many reasons) and I can tell without any doubt that this game cautivated at first glance because of its artwork. So cute yet fearless art took me instantly back to those days when I was little and watched really old cartoons all day long. But Kyle does something interesting with his artwork. Behind all those vivid colors and Cartoonish themes, he does a great job Storytelling each game in a way that immerses the player into the main theme in an effortless way. In my opinion, very few artists accomplish this in such a complete manner.
If we take a look at Vast: The Crystal Caverns, ROOT and Oath: Chronicles of Empire and Exile (his latest game artwork), we can clearly see the same kind of style of composition in all three games. Personally, this is a pattern that I admire because it causes in me the same sensation of excitement and joy every time I look at them. He made me really appreciate art in games and made me realize that any good game doesn’t only depends on his mechanic or replayability… Artwork DEFINETLY enhances the experience and make people want to go back for more! It’s a sacred balance…
I will definitely look forward to any games Kyle Ferrin participates. His current partnership with Ledere Games has made him sky rocket in popularity with his unique style. I’m sure many other people will love what departs in the future for him, but right now, I’m feeling really excited for the release of Oath, his latest masterpiece.
The board game industry has many top artists. Their artwork makes it possible for me to venture around the world, discover other universes and travel through time. Sitting at the gaming table, the dedicated work of talented board game artists transports me to countless alternate realities. I’m very grateful for this. Choosing one favorite artist was no easy task. However, something very special happened in 2019. Through their exquisite art, a team of two female pencil artists managed to change how I perceive my own reality. Not just when sitting at the gaming table but in my daily life. Natalia Rojas and Ana María Martínez Jaramillo create the beautifully detailed bird images for Wingspan, published by Stonemaier Games. It was through them that I discovered the magnificence of these animals and since then I have been walking with my gaze up to the sky. My city garden is rapidly transforming into a little bird sanctuary, I bought myself a bird guide and binoculars and even 3 special breed chickens. Ana and Natalia have created no fewer than 250 hand drawn bird illustrations for the base game and the European expansion alone. The new Oceania expansion is very likely to drive that number above 300. They strive for perfection and spend 7 to 20 hours on 1 image, classic pencil on paper technique. I can’t wait to discover their next artwork. Both ladies therefore receive the trophy for best board game artist from me.
Bombarded by art in games, both good and bad, the world becomes a blur but for me, the English artist/graphic designer Lloyd Ash Pyne (known as Woodchi), of Maverick Muse fame, stands out for meas an excellent game illustrator. Very much of a steampunk genre, his cartoonesque style of anthropomorphised woodland creatures generate a unique world, into which the crews of myriad airships, in the Oddball Aeronauts universe, do take to the skies to indulge in deadly battle. His distinctive line work, rendered in subdued tones, fit the game theme perfectly. There is a fascade of ‘cuteness’ about his illustrations, but a darker humour exists below the surface…and I don’t doubt this for a moment when we witness cat captains (with opposable thumbs) sporting meter long sabres or packs of dogs wielding a blunderbuss or three or racoons riding peney-farthings. His work continues post Oddball, and, although increasing in compositional complexity, and moving a little away from the initial theme, he retains the initial charm that first drew me to his work, as his universe expands.
My favorite boardgame artist? Hard to pick just one, because there are so many talented artists out there. But if it were a matter of life and death and I’m forced to choose just one, the name of Vincent Dutrait rings the loudest in my head. Not only because he is, of course, a talented artist, but because I got to know his work at the very first Essen Spiel I visited. It was in 2013, and Lewis & Clark was one of the games released at that fair. The gameboard represents a Native American village, and over 80 cards represent historical figures who played a role in the westbound expedition of Lewis and Clark. This is still one of the most beautiful games in my collection.
Vincent Dutrait is also a very productive artist who has put his paintbrushes and pencils at the service of many boardgames. According to the Boardgamegeek database, he (co-)illustrated 122 boardgames. I think many geeks will have at least one game with his art in their collection. To name but a few: the new edition of Jaipur, Elysium, Lost cities, Madame Ching, Solia, Treasure Island, …
I like how he has a distinctive and detailed style with a colorful palette. Just by looking at the box cover, you can tell, with an air of chique: “It’s a Dutrait.” I never manage to get that right in art museums, but in a boardgame store: hell yeah!
I discovered modern board games roughly 15 years ago. Back then there were no insanely lavish Kickstarter releases, not every game came in a deluxe version, and the illustrators that nowadays are shaping the look and feel of modern games, names like Vincent Dutrait, Ian O’Toole, and Klemens Frans, had yet to make an appearance.
My baby steps into this hobby of ours were instead visually guided by an artist named Franz Vohwinkel. During the late 90’s and early 00’s Franz Vohwinkel was a household name in the business, and the illustrator that more than any other contributed to the development of the initial wave of eurogames and its visual identity. Lost Cities, Samurai, Puerto Rico, Taj Mahal, Tikal, Amun-Re, Ra, Chinatown, extremely well known and influential games every single one of them, and the artist behind them all were Franz Vohwinkel.
My favorite among Vohwinkel’s projects, though, as well as one of my favorite games period, is The Princes of Florence. Not only is it a truly awesome game, but its visual features are like the epitome of the traditional eurogame, including the obligatory “man looking solemnly into the distance” on the cover, and an aesthetically pleasing although a tad too brown color scheme. My feelings for Vohwinkel’s distinct, but slightly dated style are reminiscent of those I have for my first love, because even if we’ve gone our separate ways, a joyous jolt of nostalgia and adoration fills my heart every time I see her.