Interview: Fernanda Suarez

In the July edition of the artist interview series I had the immense pleasure to interview one of the hottest new artists on the boardgame scene, Fernanda Suarez. Fernanda leaped into recognition with her ridiculously impressive work on Dead of Winter and is continuing to wow people with the 2015 release, Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn. Well, enough of an introduction, let’s see what makes Fernanda tick, what excites her and how she does what she does.

Is board game art your full-time job? If not, what else do you do?
Yes it is!, I work full-time doing art for boardgames with the company Plaid Hat Games.

What is your absolute favorite thing to draw/paint?
People definitely, portraits are what fascinates me the most, I love trying to capture and express emotions and thoughts through the look in someones eyes and their expressions.

Courtesy of Fernanda Suarez
Time Don’t Change – Courtesy of Fernanda Suarez

What do you do for fun?
I usually paint more for myself on my free time, but I also love movies, listening to music, reading, and traveling.

Any books/art that inspire you?
Ah!, this one is difficult, because there are too many I could name, and especially since they are always changing. The last book I read and loved it, was “Nobody is ever missing”, Usually the books that call my attention the most are novels, that have an interesting view on human emotions and issues.
The other thing that is usually my main inspiration is music, I love all kinds of music, and from there is where I always get the more ideas from.

Who is your favorite non-boardgame artist?
There are a million artists I love, but I will name Janny Saville, the way she portrays the human body is simply mesmerizing.

Do you play games yourself?
Yes I do when I find the time, boardgames and videogames, I really love horror games or classic ones like Mario.

What is your favorite boardgame and videogame?
I know this is obviously subjective haha, but I have to say Dead of winter, so far it is the boardgame I have played the most, and the one that creates the most fun between people and friends.
And videogames I think will say Silent hill, it has been a while since I can´t dedicate a lot of time to a videogame anymore, and that one is one of the last I remember doing that and really loving it.

How did you get into doing art for board games?
I was lucky to be contacted by Isaac Vega a couple of years ago, to see if I wanted to do the Artwork for a boardgame Plaid hat Games was planning to do (Dead of Winter), and that was my first experience After that, we have kept working together and I fell in love with the boardgame world.

How does the process of doing art for a board game typically work for you?
I usually get the introduction of the world on where the game will play, then I get instructions on what the image I need to make has to be, after that I start on gathering all possible references I can find, of all sorts, to start building my own mental library of the concepts, after that I start working on sketches, and if they get approved, I move on to paint and finalize the image.

Do you use references for characters?
Yes I do, I usually use myself to pose if I need any pose for example, or also use references for fabrics, textures etc.

What research do you do before a project?
Everything I can think of, I look for previous projects/games that might have used the same subject, I search for movies, images for inspiration, fashion, portraits, locations, historical facts (if applicable), environments, everything I can think of, that has anything to do with the universe I will have to work on for a project.

What is your favorite board game you have worked on and why?
It has to be Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn ( The new upcoming game by Isaac Vega and Plaid Hat Games), it was my second project working with them, and I was lucky to be part of it, Isaac created a truly exciting and amazing universe for that game,  I was drawn in by the first minute he told me of all the characters and each of their stories and personalities. The game is set in a fantasy universe full of magic and conflict of power and survival, it has such a heart. It was so fun being able to imagine and create the visual images for the characters and their environment, as an Illustrator, it was a dream job to work on that boardgame. Also not only is it such a beautiful world but such a fun game to play too.

courtesy of BGG
courtesy of BGG

What is your favorite piece you have done for a board game?
I think it was Dead of Winter cover Art, I loved it and it was really fun to make, because you can see all the survivors and I could work on their portraits.

dead of winter cover

Who is your favorite board game artist that is not you?
Jesper Ejsing , his work is so badass.

What comic character would you love to draw?
I think Jean Grey or Harley Quinn. Especially Harley, I love her attitude.

Do you think boardgame artists are under-recognised?
Yes, the work of some boardgames is truly stunning and I think they should be more recognized.

Do you attend conventions and if so, what ones?
No very often, but I will be at GenCon this year with Plaid Hat Games (: , so if anyone is around come and say hi! .

How can people find out more about you?
They can contact me at my email : , or visit my sites:

Thank you to Fernanda for taking the time to answer my questions. If you are going to GenCon and get a chance to say hi, you definitely should, but if you are a fellow GenCan’t attendee one of the prizes is a sketch by Fernanda. Oh and below is what Fernanda calls a sketch.

Courtesy of Fernanda Suarez
Courtesy of Fernanda Suarez