quarta-feira, 18 de junho de 2008

Interview with Michael Menzel

It is always great fun for us when we invite someone connected to the world of board games and then they accept our invitation.
This time we decided to launch a challenge to great illustrator Michael Menzel. He accepted immediately and we are very grateful for his kindness!

The following is the interview, we hope you enjoy!

JE: Do you also enjoy playing boardgames frequently or your mainly interest is to creating illustrations for the boardgame?

MM:The main interest is to illustrate. But I like playing, too. In my opinion you need both to illustrate a game. You have to get a feeling for the "soul" of a game. How does it feels when you play it (small and tricky, big and cinematic, funny...). It's good when the artwork transports this feeling.

JE: You always seem to be able to recreate the sense of atmosphere and flavor of a particular period related to the boardgame and that is great. What we e mean is, for example, in 'Thurn und Taxis´ you really feel that you belong to international mail and postal services in Europe in the 16th century. How can you do it? Do you spend several time doing historical research?

MM:I think many illustrators use public libaries and the internet to learn as much as possible about the historical enviromant of a game. Sometimes we get help from the publishers, who feed us with material. In the case of "Thurn und Taxis" I had the big pleasure to work directly with the Thurn und Taxis-Museum in Regensburg. They gave me research-stuff I would have never found in any public libary.
Research is great. I can learn so much about history while doing my job. A good knowledge about the setting is the necessary foundation for a good and atmospheric Artwork.

JE: You are, clearly, an adept of painture. How do you prefer to work: the traditional way, or do you use any digital software?

MM: I work nearly 99 % digital. Even first sketches are made on the computer. Some people call it "digital painting". It's funny, but I don't use any Photoshop filters and some how this way of working is very "traditional" because it really feels like painting but using digital colour. This method saves a lot of soap :-)
Years before I've used many techniques and materials (oilcolour, watercolour, pencil...). I like all of them and on holiday I only take a sketchbook and some pencils with me just to get back to roots.

JE: Your work is always very realistic. What do you prefer to work on: portraits (characters) or landscapes (boards)?

MM:I enjoy both. In earlier years I always drew figures. I thought it was boring to draw landscapes and backgrounds. This has changed. It's very challenging for me today to paint landscapes and I'm allways very glad if it worked well. I'm still learning.

JE: Which are your influences?

MM:Before illustrating games I learned a lot by watching paintings from Henry Matisse and August Macke. I think the bright compositions when do a familygame-cover are influenced by them. I also like the style of John Howe and Allen Lee the brilliant lord of the ring illustrators. And in gameartwork the biggest influence came from Franz Vohwinkel. He is still one of the most talented illustrators for games and in my eyes he is the one who developed this kind job.

JE: How about your working methods? How many time do you spend on each step?

MM:It's not possible to discribe a typical process, because it's allways different. Sometimes I'm included in the game developing process while the publisher is still looking for a setting and I am able to help with coversketches for different settings to find out what fits best. Sometimes a game is illustrated completely in 1,5 mounth like "Aqua Romana" some need 1,5 years like "Pillars of the earth". Maybe that's a reason why it's still such a great fun to illustrate games and why it's never getting boring.

JE: In your research for "Shogun", you must have seen a lot of japanese engravings. What's your opinion on flat colors, so akin to oriental culture?

MM:When I started with the project Queen Games decided not to use the typical japanese style. We wanted to make it rather coloured and powerful than too historical and heavy.
In this case I really have to commend the work of Queen Games. Shogun had to be done in a very short time (for such a big project). I thought it was impossible but Bernd Dietrich did all the research and served it to me. Dirk and Barbara Henn did the research for the map and found out the original names of the regions in this period of japan. Great teamwork!

JE: Now, the inevitable question… Are you working in something new? Could you tell us something? The thematic, the publisher, the designer… anything!

MM: Sorry, but I cannot tell anything until the publishers have done before. But I'll promise to give more background info to you, to some of the games, when the publishers made them public, ok?

JE: Which is your bigger dream?

MM: To illustrate and to define the look of a big and really innvotive fantasystory.

JE: Let’s play! Define in only one word…

Draw – still learning
Games – fun
The designer – Reiner Knizia (because I enjoy the cooperative "Lord of the Rings" so much. It's great!)
The perfect project until now – Pillars of the earth
Meat or fish? – meat
Sun or rain? – rain
Work or holidays? – work

JE: Ok. Finished now! We want to thank you very much for your kindness. We wish the best for you Mr. Menzel!

MM: Thanks a lot for your interest. All the best to you and your readers.
Michael Menzel

6 comentários:

Cacá disse...

Rapaz, grande entrevista.... gosto muito do trabalho do Michael Menzel, e confesso que, vendo o site dele, não sabia que ele tinha feito ilustração para tantos jogos...

Muito bacana mesmo... parabéns ao amigos do Jogo Eu...

abraços do Brasil

Carlos Abrunhosa disse...

Boas Cacá
... e ainda por cima o senhor Menzel foi muito afável e concordou em dar-nos esta entrevista com muita facilidade.

Obrigado pela visita e pelo comentário.

Leo disse...

Hey, really nice blog! If you want to, U can check out my blog at www.trierer.blogg.se . It’s in English, but actually I live in Sweden ;D
Leo =)

Carlos Abrunhosa disse...

Hello Leo,

thank you for the comments.
I will visit you of course!


jackjaques disse...

Bem me parecia que ele usava um software qualquer para pintar as cenas dele...!

Fiquei com vontade de experimentar Pillars of Earth (e de voltar a jogar Shogun)!!!

soledade disse...

Boa entrevista. Eu gosto muito do trabalho do Michael Menzel. Na verdade eu acho o Turn und Taxis um dos mais bonitos e bem conseguidos tabuleiros de sempre.

Só acho estranho alguém que prefere chuva e trabalho ao sol e férias! Alemães!!! :)