Diary of an Aspiring Board Game Artist - Part 1 - The Plan



I've been thinking about my dream job.


This all came about because I'm currently reading The Chimp Paradox by Prof Steve Peters. The book is a different way to look at how you think. The author looks at two main parts of the brain, the human and the chimp brain. The human brain is rational and logical. The chimp brain is emotional and impulsive. If you've ever had a time when you've thought, I don't want to be behaving this way, then your chimp brain has been in control. It all makes perfect sense to me and I can recognise when my chimp brain is active and when the human takes over. It's a quality book that I can well recommend.



There is one section toward the back of the book that is all about success and your dreams. The chimp is generally shallow and wants money, material wealth, status, and power. The human is a lot more Star Trek and wants to better itself, be challenged, and have a purpose. So this all got me thinking about what my dream job would be. I had to think big. Shoot for the stars and not the moon as the author advises.


A board game artist. That's what I would love to be.


I play a lot of games. Generally over a hundred new games each year. Modern games are challenging, varied, and fun. Many are gorgeous to look at. If your experience of board games is rolling a die, moving that many spaces, and generally being bored silly then playing these modern board games may be a bit of a shock. Let's look at a few examples:









If they don't inspire you, I don't know what will.


Well, they certainly inspire me.


So I set about making a plan detailing how I could attain this dream, following the suggestions in The Chimp Paradox.


After deciding what my dream was I had to write down the Foundation Stones, the things I would have to do to get me there. I had to look objectively at my weaknesses as an artist and work on these. Here's my list:

  1. Learn how to draw figures.

  2. Improve my ability to paint in Photoshop.

  3. Be able to paint in a modern style.

  4. Make contacts in the board game industry.

  5. Create a portfolio of game art.

  6. Learn the basics of graphic design.

  7. Create a new website or section on my current website.

Each of these foundation stones is then broken down into goals. I have written lists of goals for each one and by far the largest is the one for figure drawing. There are sixteen goals for this foundation stone alone and each one will require a lot of work on my part.



I then considered my commitment to this dream and worked out the essential things I would need and also the pitfalls I would have to avoid. The cost in terms of money for this whole scheme is not great. The only things I will have to buy are some books and an app for physiotherapists that shows the bones and muscles of the human body. In terms of time, well, that's where the cost comes in. I can cope with that though. I'm quite prepared to put in the time. I've wanted to be able to draw figures for many years, so I may as well get started now.


A plan was the next stage. I chose two goals to work on and gave myself a timeframe for getting them done. Bearing in mind that I'm also working hard on transferring my videos from YouTube to Vimeo (see last week's post), these first goals couldn't be too time-consuming.



I've chosen to find out what I would need to put in a portfolio to send off to board game publishers and also to understand the elements of a modern style. I emailed many board game companies and asked them about the ideal contents of an art portfolio. About 30% got back to me and were very helpful.


The main thing they wanted to see was the range of styles that an artist can work in. They also told me to include characters, environments, props, and icons. One person told me that they like their artists to also be the graphic designers for the whole game including the rulebook.

Since getting this information I've decided that the best way to showcase my work would be to design a game and then do all of the art, rulebook, and game cover for it. This would show my work in context. It doesn't matter too much is the game is a duffer, I'm doing it more to show that I can finish a project and do so with a high level of quality.


The whole process is so huge it feels a tad overwhelming but I was able to chip away at it last week and tick off one of my goals. It felt rather good. Not only did I get this goal completed but I was also able to prepare for other goals coming in the future. I bought the physio app I mentioned earlier and it is excellent, the perfect thing I need to help me learn how to draw figures. I also ordered a few books on graphic design that I can read as I eat my breakfast.



It's all quite exciting and I can recommend following this process to achieve your dream. Even if I don't achieve mine, I will at least have given myself the best chance of success. Next week, I'll look at my next goal, the elements of a modern style. See you then!


#boardgameartist #aspiringboardgameartist #modernboardgames

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