Obscurio artist Xavier Collette says – ‘be yourself’

Recently there’s been a hashtag on twitter I love to follow. #10days10cards – It is a great source for beautiful card arts.

Post by @notplayingtowin on Instagram

SO when the Instagrammer @Notplayingtowin chooses to post this image I can only agree – it is wonderful. And the artist that stands behind some of the iconic visuals from the beloved game Mysterium is also behind the new equally beautiful Obscurio -published by Libellud. That is the Belgian Xavier Collette now living in France. I bet that I am not the only one that is awestruck by the incredible skills showing in his art. I’ve asked Xavier about his art beginning like always with his background.

Tell us a little about your artistic background and how you ended up doing art for Obscurio?

Well, I started working as a freelance artist around 15 years ago. The first contracts I got, were covers for small french publishers. I also started to work for some RPG games, as Qin or Kuro. After that, I worked for a small Belgian videogames studio, named 10Tacles Belgium. It was a good experience where I greatly leveled up my skills.
Back freelancing I started to work on my first comic book, a version of Alice in Wonderland, with David Chauvel as scenario writer. I also started to work on some children’s books, as “Le chat qui avait peur des ombres” (The cat who was afraid of shadows), with my sweetheart as writer. Meanwhile, game publishers contacted me to ask if I could work with them, and so I began to work on games as TimeLine, Dixit, Abyss, Mysterium, etc.

The Abyss cover
Mysterium screen

I have continued to work like this, with covers (for novels, games), comics (Soufflevent) or children books, with some concept arts for videogames or advertising now and then. During these two last years, I’ve been working as artistic director for Libellud Digital. And again, back to freelance now.

I began working with Libellud about 10 years ago, and we like to work together. They have been really satisfied with my work on Mysterium, so when they got Obscurio project, they asked me to illustrate it!

What parts Obscurios art did you work on?

I worked on the cover, the board, the characters, and some props, as well as the book and the time track card holder.

Obscurio game board
Obscurio Board
detail image
Board detail

What other board games have you worked on?

I worked on Dixit Journey, Dixit Anniversary, Et toque, Mysterium, Seasons (expansion), Timeline, Timeline Challenge, Sultaniya, Abyss (and its first expansion), Conan, The three little pigs.
And now Obscurio!

Do you think is important with a creative brief and how is a good one?

I could say “yes” and “no”. “Yes”, because it’s always easier to see where you’re going. I like to have information about what I’m working on. A good mood board is always a nice thing to have.

And “No” because sometimes, you like to be totally free. As I was on Abyss, for example. The creative brief was just: do what you like and have fun.

So a good creative brief, for me, is good guidelines, with enough freedom inside to let you express yourself ;).

..a good creative brief, for me, is good guidelines, with enough freedom inside to let you express yourself

How do you like to work with a client on a project like this?

I always work the same way: I read the brief, make some sketches, and send them. When I have the feedback from the art director, I make the changes if needed, and roughly drop colors on the illustration, and return them to the client. Again, when i get the feedbacks, I go ahead making the final version of the illustrations.

Of course, you can have more than one ‘send/feedback’ loop, sometimes, it takes time to reach a final version where everyone is happy and like it.

What tools do you use (software/hardware/traditional) 

I’m working on a Cintiq 24HD, and Photoshop.

3 step drawing obscurio
Obscurio art process
Obscurio character

What is your absolute favorite creative tool that you own?

My Cintiq, I guess… for years I worked on Intuos 3, and Cintiq is a real pleasure to work on when you have it for the first time. And now it would be very hard to work without it.

What advice would you give other artists that want to work on a board game?

I absolutely don’t know! As I never “did” something to work on a board game… It was the work I did before on comics and children book that lead me to the boardgame’s industry. So… well, be yourself?

What’s the best piece of advice on making art, you yourself have been given by someone or learned through your career?

Honestly? “Never give you phone number”  Hahahaha.
Because I never had a client phoning me a Friday at 8 pm, sayin’ “hey, here’s our feedback, if you can have it ready by Monday morning it could be nice! Have a great weekend.”

“Never give you phone number”

And of course, if you want to contact them during the weekend, it’s impossible because they actually HAVE a weekend.

It might seem a bit weird, but I avoid a big amount of stress by handling everything through e-mails…

And for an “artistic” advice… I don’t know. I don’t really listen to advice… but i think something like “just do what you like, no matter if it’s THE thing to do or not.”

Name up to 3 artists you admire?

Brian Froud, Arnold Böcklin and Craig Mullins !

Finally – where can people find more about you and what is your next project?

You can find me on many social networks: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Behance…  just look for Coliandre or Coliandrium ;).
And of course, the best way to not miss my work is to come and see my website : www.xaviercollette.com !

Thank you Xavier. To the readers that are at ESSEN SPIEL – go check out Libellud’s booth Hall1 F103 

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