Luke: Hello everyone, and welcome back to Behind the Board! Today, we’re going to chatting about the most recent Unmatched set, Cobble and Fog, with the artist, Andrew Thompson! How’s it going, Andrew?
Andrew: Pretty well, how’re things with you?
Luke: Not bad; I get to chat about one of my favorite board games with you, after all.
Andrew: [laughs] Fair enough.
Luke: So Andrew, I know you haven’t always worked in the board game industry; what sorts of artistic jobs have you done prior to now?
Andrew: Out of college (class of 2013) I worked at Reebok in Boston as a graphic designer. I designed apparel graphics for the running category for a year before being hired full-time to their marketing department where I did the CrossFit games posters for a few years.
For several years I also worked with Gallery 1988 and Gallery Nucleus creating pop culture art. Through those, I was able to do official work for Magic: The Gathering, Star Wars, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse, Terminator: Salvation, and Bethesda Games. From there, I started attending cons and selling work there which led to me picking up freelance in the gaming community. Now I do my own personal work, including a comic on my Patreon, in addition to tabletop game art.
Luke: Wow, that’s an impressive portfolio! Have you ever had the chance to play Magic: The Gathering or have you only worked on it from a professional level?
Andrew: I’m addicted to MtG. It’s seriously a problem [laughs]. I also played Yu-Gi-Oh for a hot minute, but those are the main games I play.
Luke: Damn, I haven’t played Yu-Gi-Oh since elementary school, brings me back just thinking about it.
Anyway, how did you find yourself working on Cobble and Fog?
Andrew: I met some art directors at a convention. Seriously, it’s the best place to meet AD’s. You know, when it’s not 2020 and a pandemic is happening.
Luke: I can imagine there was a certain amount of pressure taking on a project entirely helmed by Oliver Barrett up until this point.
Andrew: Oh my god, yeah! I have always been a fan of a lot of Mondo artists like Matt Taylor, Oliver, Erica Williams, etc. Getting approached for Unmatched was a really great moment. I remember I was in Colorado at the time for Denver Pop Culture Con.
Luke: How would you describe your experience working on this entry of the series?
Andrew: Unmatched was great! Everything was smooth sailing. Particularly I loved how feedback was delivered. With games, there are always teams working on them and despite the entire team being in our chat, they would discuss the art and give feedback in one message vs everyone saying something.
I will say, I’ve only had one really bad experience working on a game. Overall, I’ve really enjoyed working with those in the gaming industry. Everyone is so passionate and I love working with teams who love what they do!
Luke: Did you have a particular process when working on the card art?
Andrew: It’s really robotic, but I blame art school (in a good way) for my process. I start with thumbnails, then I gather reference or take my own, revise the sketch, then finalize.
Luke: Hey, if it works, it works, and clearly you’ve done a phenomenal job here.
Andrew: [laughs] Well thank you, I appreciate it.
Luke: Was there any character you particularly enjoyed drawing?
Andrew: I really enjoyed all of these characters, as I’ve never played around with the Victorian era before. I had the most fun with Jekyll/Hyde and Dracula. I have an artist buddy (Inkwell Illustrations) who has strong Dracula vibes and I have a ridiculous amount of reference photos of him. Jekyll and Hyde are all me plus some age lines and facial hair! If you look at the cards, you can imagine how silly the reference photos are!
Luke: Dude, you should sport the Dr. Jekyll mustache more often!
Is there any card in particular that you had trouble with putting together?
Andrew: I struggled a lot with the conception stage of the Invisible Man. Figuring out how to show a menacing character without a face will forever be one of the most challenging design problems I’ve had to solve!
Luke: Are there any characters you’d love to see show up in the series down the road?
Andrew: Selfishly speaking, as in I’d love to illustrate them if they were to show up in an unmatched game, I’d love to illustrate Iron Man, any MtG character, or anyone from Naruto, Lord of the Rings, or Gundam: Wing.
Luke: Now that this set is complete, are you planning on working on another Unmatched set down the road?
Andrew: I don’t have the authority to make that happen but I would absolutely work on another one in the future!
Luke: What would you say is your biggest takeaway from your Unmatched experience thus far?
Andrew: Do what you love, draw how you draw, and you’ll eventually get hired based on that work. There’s a ton of companies who hire artists and then ask them to work in a different style. I’ve done that before and it’s never as strong as work that falls in with my style.
Luke: That’s such a great outlook, Andrew. I’m honestly working on that myself, so it’s nice to hear that confirmation from someone else in the industry.
Last question for you today; how can folks support you and your work right now?
Andrew: If you want to purchase any of my work, I sell playmates, mtg token packs, and art prints on my website.
I also am currently working on a comic via Patreon ($5 patrons get to see it a month early). The comic is based on my “Banishment series” which is about overcoming difficult times, accepting them, and eventually discovering how those times have made you grow as a person. The comic means a lot to me right now because it’s been a major way of working through my own struggles during this pandemic. I hope anyone who is dealing with depression, feelings of uncertainty, and anxiety right now can relate.
Luke: I’ll definitely have to take the time to check that out! Thanks so much for stopping by, Andrew, I really appreciate it.
And thanks to all of you reading this! Feel free to let us know your thoughts in the comments, as well as who else you’d like to see us interview, and I look forward to seeing ya’ll next week.