The Killer Moose caught up with Fernanda Suarez — the artist for Dead of Winter and Ashes among other things. She’s pretty fantastic and you can find her work on Deviant Art and Society6. Without further ado here’s our interview!
What do you do?
I work as an illustrator for the company Plaid Hat Games, doing boardgames.
What’s your favorite medium? Subject?
Favorite medium is digital. It is so easy to set up to work with and I am just so used to it now, it is my favorite. My favorite subjects are portraits and the human figure, nothing beats drawing and painting people. It just makes me happy to do it, developing each person/character unique details is so wonderful.
What got you into Fantasy and fantastical art?
I have always been drawn to the fantasy world since I was a kid, feeling so fascinated with universes like the classic Disney movies or the stories by the Grimm brothers and Hans Christian Andersen. I grew up being influenced by all that and it is just so fun to work with that type of universe for me. So when I got the opportunity to develop Art for worlds like that, it was amazing.
Do you have a major geek franchise that you follow right now? If so, what is it and what attracts you to it?
Star Wars, I mean, is a classic. I saw it as a kid and fell in love with it right away, and now with the new one that also is soooo good. It’s just a longtime love for me, and it has that nostalgic feeling to it too.
What are some maybe less well known things you recommend (art, movies, books, websites) or that you have consumed recently?
This is so exciting, I have never got this question before. hahaha
Music: California by Grimes (and the entire Art Angels album ). Also Megan Davies, she does lovely acoustic covers of popular songs.
Movies: I just watched Room and I thought it was really good, with such a complex subject it still manages to give you a warm positive feeling. Also Infinitely polar bear: it is such a sweet movie, and Mark Ruffalo is amazing in it. And not a movie, but I just started watching Making a murderer on Netflix with my boyfriend, and I am obsessed with it. I can’t wait to see how it ends.
Books: I want to read now The Girl on the Train, but the last book I read and really liked was Nobody is Ever Missing, also my favorite book of all time East of Eden.
And websites: My favorite websites are Tumblr, Spotify and Pinterest, but if you love Cabins, this little site is perfect to see some amazing photos of the most beautiful places http://cabinporn.com/.
The Killer Moose crew are all writers and as writers we can have strange relationships with our creations. What’s your relationship with your creations like? Do you start with an idea of their personality or does one grow organically?
It always depends. For example when I am working on illustrating a game or characters, I always start with a description or a major idea of how it has to be, but from there you always ended up finding new things to add to it as you go, or it changes on the way. When I am doing personal pieces, I really like to give myself the freedom to just develop and imagine the right mood. For example, it can take me months and months to finish a personal piece, because I only like to work on it when I really feel I am into the mood of the image I want to create and just do it for the love of it. I don´t like having any pressures with personal work.
What’s the workflow like for working on a board game? What are you handed to work from?
It needs to be fast, because there are a lot of images needed and it can´t take forever; but it is so fun, because for months you immerse yourself in that universe and ended up feeling attached and familiar with the characters and their world. So the more you work on it, the more you are able to imagine every detail and element of their context.
On a project like Dead of Winter or Ashes, how much of a relationship is there between the character design and mechanic design? Is it collaborative at all? How much artistic freedom do you get?
I have a super awesome dynamic with Isaac, the designer of the games, and I always get a lot of freedom and the opportunity to give my input, and he is just so good at creating these amazing universes. It is a privilege to work with him and all the crew of such creative and lovely people that form Plaid Hat Games. I feel there is always a very organic flow when you can see that everyone involved on a project truly loves what they are doing and want to give their best to create a good game, that hopefully people will enjoy.
Do you keep to a routine? What’s a normal day like?
I do, I love routines. I usually get up, have cereal and coffee, then I get to my office and check emails and my sites, and then I gather anything I need to start working, if I need any references or such, and then I get to work. I work 8 hours, and then it depends. If I am tired I just relax and chill until I go to bed, other times I have a lot of energy and I like working out or painting a bit for myself.
Can you tell us something you wish people knew about being a working artist today?
I think it is no secret. I just think that if you really love what you do, you will put the effort and work needed to achieve what you want. As in everything in life really, always try to be responsible and nice to others, and work really hard for what you want.
Any advice for new or aspiring artists?
Be the first one to believe in yourself. Set your mind on what you want and work hard for it. Don´t stay still, always be moving and doing things, learning, working, practicing, putting your work out there. You should never stop learning.