Exclusief interview met Michal Ivan (cover artist Imperial Assault)

Eind 2014 verscheen het bordspel Star Wars Imperial Assault en de oplettende lezer heeft wellicht gemerkt dat ik en enorme fan ben van dit spel. Het was dus eigenlijk raar dat ik dit niet eerder gecombineerd heb met een van mijn belangrijkste andere Star Wars bezigheden: interviews! Dit is iets waar onlangs een einde aan kwam toen ik Michal Ivan (de persoon die voor op één na alle Imperial Assault sets de art maakte die op de dozen te zien is) interviewde…

Interview met Michal Ivan

How and when did you become a Star Wars fan? (I assume you are a fan, right?)

As a kid I was more into monsters and fantasy. I did not really watch the full original trilogy as we didn’t have it on VHS and that was pretty much the only way to watch at that time for us. I have always seen just small bits of it at my cousin’s house, I was very intrigued with the practical effects. It was always a bit mysterious to me. I discovered the full magic of it with the Prequel trilogy, it gave me the chance to go back and watch all of it. Since then Star Wars is part of my life. Nowadays I’m rediscovering it with my son, he loves it too.

The Bespin Gambit (2016)

What inspired you to become an artist/illustrator?

It started with dinosaurs. My grandmother worked at a library, so we had all the Dinosaur books we could get our hands on. I loved get lost in the illustrations and always wanted to be able create something like it. Later discovering fantasy illustration and monsters just blew my mind and I was hooked for life. Drawing and creating has been and still is great relax from real life for me.

You did the artwork for various Imperial Assault boxes like the core box, Return to Hoth, Jabba’s Realm, Bespin Gambit and Heart of the Empire. How did you get this job? Did Fantasy Flight Games ask you?

FFG found me on the internet as I was pretty active in posting my work. I worked with them on several smaller projects in the begging, then at some point I guess they decided I was ready to do the covers.

Jabba’s Realm (2017)

What information do you get from FFG before you start creating the artwork for a new expansion? What do they tell you about the expansion?

I know very little about the expansion. Usually they don’t even tell me the final name. I just know the look of the characters and setting that needs to be on the cover.

What are the boundaries of the creative freedom you have regarding the box art? For instance: does FFG tell you what it should look like, which characters should feature…

Usually the briefing is pretty specific. The art should represent the game well as well as Star Wars, and in the end it needs to be approved by Lucasfilm. We usually work pretty closely with the Art Director. He sends me all the designs for characters that should be in the illustration, specifies the location and what kind of action does he have in mind. I go over it watch scenes in the movies that take place on those or similar spots, let it sit in my head for a few days and try to come up with the most impressive interpretation of it. I do several rough sketches, they go over them and discuss if there is something they like. Then I tweak it and polish it till everybody is satisfied. After its approved I just start adding color and detail till it’s done.

If I’m correct, the only box you weren’t involved with was Twin Shadows. How come?

I work full time at a concept art and illustration studio called SIXMOREVODKA. We do mostly stuff for computer games. It is pretty demanding and I don’t really have time to do additional freelance jobs, but sometimes when it’s really interesting I just make time. On that one cover I just wasn’t able to make time.

Return to Hoth (2015)

Can we see Imperial Assault boxart for new sets of you in the near future?

I’m not sure. In the near future no, because I’m not currently working on any, but maybe later.

Does this mean no more expansions will be released?

There was a plan to do next expansion with my cover, but I think it’s not happening now. Maybe later, depends on FFG.

Have you played the game yourself?

I play it with very simplified rules with my kids. They love it and when they are old enough we will play the normal version for sure.

Of all the Star Wars creations you made: which one is your favorite?

It must be Jabba’s Realm. I just love painting creatures and had tons of fun on that one.

Meer unieke interviews vind je op: Star Wars Interviews – ‘Mem-Wars’ from a galaxy far, far away…

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