Interview: Illustrator Beth Sobel

Get to know Beth Sobel, illustrator for Lanterns and World’s Fair 1893, and see a little about what goes on behind the scenes.

At Foxtrot Games, our ongoing quest is to produce beautiful and approachable board games. Rich, immersive artwork is integral to both. We needed an artist who could take the experience of the game to new heights with a stroke of a (digital) brush, and we could not be prouder to have the artwork of Beth Sobel included in our games! 

Mage by Beth Sobel (self portrait?)

Mage by Beth Sobel

The colorful serenity of Lanterns and the historical, industrial energy of World’s Fair 1893 are the direct result of Beth’s vision and talent.

Beth graciously agreed to share some of her thoughts and experience working in board game illustration with us. I hope you enjoy the opportunity to get to know Beth a little more and to see what goes on behind the scenes. 

Michael: First of all, could you share a little about your background in illustration? How did you get started, and what have you done to continue to develop your art?

Beth: I went to graduate school for oil painting, and after completing my MFA, decided I was not remotely suited for gallery work. I’m really shy in person (although I can pretend to not be when necessary), and having to talk about my paintings was a pretty difficult experience. I moved on from that, and after a long while putting art on the back burner, I had an opportunity to reevaluate what I wanted to do professionally. I came up with illustration. I love assignments, and I love creating to spec, and I find in person discussions about things I’ve created pretty scary and would prefer to avoid them… illustration fit all those!

sword

Sword by Beth Sobel

In terms of continual development, I am a huge fan of always learning and improving. To that end, I do one hour studies when possible, and try to learn something new in every piece I make.

 —

Viticulture CardHow did you first get into illustrating games?

Beth: I got into game illustration through chance, honestly. Starting out in illustration, I did a few things for various industries, before Michael Iachini gave me my very first job in games doing some card art. After that, my first board game was Viticulture, and I was hooked! I learned that I really love playing hobby board games, and being able to work in an industry I loved was a wonderful privilege.

Early Lake Tile Sketch

How did you start working with Foxtrot Games?

Beth: Randy Hoyt asked me to work on Lanterns, and I was delighted to be able to say yes! Working with Foxtrot remains a career highlight for me. It’s a great team and working experience.

 

Well, the feeling is certainly mutual! So, when you begin a new game project, what do you need from the publisher in order to get started?

Beth: First, I need as comprehensive a list of assets required as possible. That includes all the expected elements, like card and box art, but also may include box sides, card frames, card backs, etc. I also need a budget and payment plan, which can vary based on project. After that, I need an idea of expectations for the finals, including style and level of detail.

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Tower of Light

World’s Fair 1893 has a very specific period and style. What was your process for finding the style for that project?

Beth: For World’s Fair 1893, Randy supplied wonderful references and art direction for all of the pieces. Since we were working with existing, historical objects and exhibits, being true to the reality of the fair was important. The style evolved as a natural part of trying to paint historically accurate renditions of the exhibits while adding color.

Finally, what do you hope your illustrations do for a game and its players?

Beth: Ideally, I hope they enhance the game experience!

Lanterns Tiles

I think it’s safe to say that her hopes have been fulfilled. Many thanks to Beth Sobel for contributing her remarkable talent to the game community with humility and excellence. We look forward to seeing more great things in the future.

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