Queremos cerrar el 2021 con la entrevista del gran Mihajlo Dimitrievski uno de los mayores referentes de la ilustración de los juegos de mesa actualmente, con más de 100 juegos ilustrados se ha convertido en uno de los ilustradores más importantes del sector y lo más sorprendente es que todavía no ha jugado a ningún juego de mesa moderno (pero ya está poniendo remedio a ello).
Hemos podido hablar con él sobre su estilo tan personal y único a la hora de realizar sus ilustraciones, también no habla de cuales son sus referentes en la ilustración tanto fuera como dentro del sector y nos habla sobre el proceso de creación de sus proyectos más conocidos.
Welcome Mihajlo, it’s an honour to have your experience and art on our blog. In case there are any of our readers who don’t know you yet, tell us about yourself and your career?
The honour – incredibly late one-is mine. Sorry for waiting so long but busy and old 😜. Well I guess there a lot of people that don’t know me. Hi – my name is Mihajlo Dimitrievski or as im signed most of the time TheMico (that should read the miCHo) but im ok with whatever. Im an illustrator living in Bitola, Macedonia. And I love comics, games, movies and toys and everything fun and childlike 😊. All ways wanted to draw-I soncider that only thing I can barely do and im more than happy to be in opportunity to buy food for myself and my family from drawing monsters and imagining stuff. Star teed as and comic book artist and doing that from time to time, currently mainly working as board game illustrator, but still working on movies animated shows, storyboards etc. Would really like to have time to play some more on PlayStation but someone has to draw all those board games so we can all enjoy.
You have a very personal and recognizable style for all the fans of the board game sector, is your style sought or found?
Not shore how to answer this. I Style I believe is building up through the life –because you know we are learning new stff every day and we try to implement them in every aspect of our lives. Drawing included. When I was a kid and started to draw-there were not so much papers and different pencils and stuff, and Ias I was grooving I found out that comics are drawn on certain type of paper with certain inks and techniques, and then I discovered colours, and while doing that I was watching movies and cartoons. Than computers come and digital stuff and cartoon network and so on. Building up stuff from down to up 😊. And style Is product of our interests and abilities. I allways loved stylized stuff and great characters and great lines and I do try to implement that in my drawings. Really enjoying artist that are super stylized like entire crew working on Samurai Jack, Powerpuff girls, Billy and Mandy, Corto Maltese, Simon Bisley (mxed cartoons with comics and comic book artists) etc. So I try to mix something of everything I love in the moment and that I would call a style of mine. Maybe in future ill love to draw everything like blue bananas. And it would be super awesome.
Which artists or references do you think have influenced your style and way of working nowadays?
Oh-this is a hard one because im easily excited and I think that list would be super long because im trying to have something from everyone and everything. Let me see-there are really quite a lot of those stuff I like and artists that work on those. I’ll do start with old ones: Frazetta, Hal Foster, Alex Reymond, Moebius, Buscema, Kirby, Uderzo, Bern Hogarth, Frank Miller, Will Eisner, Romita senior and junior, Joe Kubert,Mezieres, Eric Powell, Jimenez, Simon Bisley, Alan Lee, John Howe, whole art teams of Star Wars, Weta workshops, pretty much all the cartoon network cartoons and people behind them. From colleagues I like Vincent Dutrait, Ian O Toole, Kwanchai, Kyle Ferrin, Mr Cuddington and too mean to think of in the late hours. And this is just a tip of the iceberg.Im constantly buying new comics and new artbooks and enjoying new art on a weekly or daily basis (via the internet).
You have worked for more than 100 board game titles… How do you think this experience has affected your approach to new projects?
Well when I started I didn’t know much about existence of board games as I know now. I knew about dungeons and dragons and magic and monopoly but not a lot about rest of the stuff. So now I know 😊.I was quite inexperienced on start-now I know a little more. I still haven’t played no boardgames (sorry for that someone has to draw them) but trying to work on that 😜.
In time I I learning more stuff and my aproch on them-how to draw a card-what to look for and what to watch out for. What will I see in the game and what I wont see so I can preserve time and those kind of technicalities. On the other side-every game I start I start with the butterflies in my stomach because every time I fill it is a new start. Which it is really because new people coming and new stuff learning and different approach on doing stuff from my or other side so yeah it is preety awesome and dynamic process and I really enjoying it.
What do you recommend to our readers to enter the industry as illustrators or designers of board games?
It is a little cliché but yeah-hard work. No easy way actually.And it is a profession. It is not like I’ll draw this and then I’ll draw something else in 4 months. Nope. Does Not work like that.I wish it did-but it doesn’t. So draw or design and play every day. Read and learn new stuff. They don’t have to be game connected but one day they’ll be. Maybe not directly but in some other way. And enjoy. Whatever you do (as long as it Is legal and cool) enjoy it. If you design games. Enjoy. You are designing fun.If you draw-enjoy. You are drawing fun.And in the end-you’ll see that people who play that game will enjoy it too.And yes it is hard from time to time but again it is a job and profession but with a pinch of magic maybe 😊.
What is your creative process like when working on a board game? Tell us about that process, from the first idea to its completion.
I wake up in the morning-usually to wake my kids for school. After coffee and asking myself what im I doing with my life . I go to my studio after and stare empty in my monitor still thinning what im doing in my life. After some time I start reading mails and replying what I can and start planning my day. I like to do some work before noon-then there is coffee, shopping time.Then is noon time of working, and after drinking coffe (3 one) im going to third fase of working in the night where I do most important and most specific tasks and finishing most of the art. In the meantime Im rearranging my books, rearranging and opening new toys, checking 3d prints, maybe sketch something somewhere, maybe read some comic etc. I work in my home-in my studio that is in my basement.It is large so I can fill it up with a lot of nerd stuff-and I do.I work digitally. I use old photoshop I think from 1997…or 2007 not shore anymore it is old.Drawing everything on cintiq UHD 24. When working on games I usually get a list of stuff that are required from me to be drawn and I go by that list. Most important thing for me is deadline (I do tend to be late in some situations-sorry) and everything else comes after. On card art ui do have a lot of liberty-I do follow directions but I guess people trust me so im relatively free on doing card art, back art and covers. Drawing boards for games requires more involvement from designer and some writing mails and stuff on chat because on boards there are things that have to be et certain positions and we have to be synchronised on that. I really enjoy entire process because I love to draw stuff and communicating with people from all around the world is really a rare opportunity. Especially when you work on games.
We would love to talk about each of your works and how they were created, but there are so many that it’s impossible. But if we want to highlight the art and the amount of different characters made for the West Kingdom saga, what was the inspiration and process for the creation of your characters? How do you do to give life and personality to each one of them?
I really don’t know-it does come spontaneous and through the hands. Of course I have to have some direction-what period the subject is. What to look out for, what to input and things like that. I just try to make them as fun as I can and as unique as I can. If I draw a knight I’ll try to draw a super cool knight, if I have to draw a dull knight I’ll try to do a super dull knight. So people can remember them and have fun with them. I do try to make everyone special through their gear ,nose, hear or props. As a kid I would sit on my balcony (live in the center of my town) and I would quickly draw portraits of people passing by my house. A million different shapes and forms. I do try to do that with characters that I’m drawing-and not just people-props, creatures and monsters. Trying to do them as cool as I can.There are some characteristics you can’t escape from but i’m trying to do them in my own way. Hope i’m successful in that 😊
During the whole process, which parts were the most challenging or problematic?
The most problematic part-is white paper (or screen) and the peace you have to have for at least certain amount of time to do some piece of art. When you (me) are settled and im ok that I can start something without standing (or without standing in some time) I can start. That period before making time to start and starting something is hardest for me. But once you draw that first line. Turbo from there 😊. Even if it is bad.Select all –delete-start again. After that is easy.
Of all the board games you have illustrated, which one have you most enjoyed creating? Why?
Al games are my children and I love them all 😊. And I love all the people that I work with. So really I cant pick my favorite one. And I don’t think ill ever will. I love them all.
Finally, any new or upcoming projects you want (or can) tell us about?
None – I do work on a lot of stuff-some from my favorite subjects even. But I don’t share until it is officially shared so sadly I cant say anything. I would like to-but no.
Muchas gracias The Mico 😉
(Todas las imágenes cedidas por Mihajlo Dimitrievski)