We wanted our attendees to get to know the incredible talent in the Artist Alley a little better, so we asked each of our artists to answer a couple questions about themselves and their art.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am Tabitha Woodard, creator of custom polymer clay board game accessories at Epicycle Designs. I make clay miniatures that are designed to replace hum-drum wooden and plastic pieces that ship with modern tabletop games such as Settlers of Catan, Pandemic, and Lords of Waterdeep. We also have a selection of fantastic 3D printed and laser cut tokens that my husband, Brett, designs.
What was the first thing you made/wrote/drew?
Over six years ago, my husband and I sat down with a chunk of brown clay and made a few cows for the farming game called Agricola. That was the first installment in a set of cows, sheep and boar for the same game. I quickly discovered that I enjoyed and had a talent for clay sculpting, and since then my joy in the process, and my skills, have gotten stronger and more pronounced.
Tell us about your creative process, from the beginning of a typical piece to its completion.
I scout out games that are fun to play, but have boring components. I find them at board game stores, through Boardgamegeek, and we even took a trip to the Essen game fair last year to see the newest releases, and we also get a lot of great suggestions from customers. We decide what pieces are most essential to gameplay and which ones most need replacing, and then decide both what they should look like and how to make them most functional in the game. After that’s decided, I set to work prototyping designs to get an accurate feel for color and design — this may take a few tries. Once I settle on a design, I start making up a number of pieces that are required for a full game set, which is anywhere from 10-100 for most games.
Who or what are your influences?
There are a huge number of amazing clay artists — I got my start by gaining inspiration by looking through talented clayworkers’ photos on boardgamegeek. Of course, the game industry keeps coming out with great games that can use some help in the parts department, and I love to help them with that, too!
What plans do you have for the future of your art?
The tabletop gaming scene is continuing to grow, so there will never cease to be inspiration from within the industry itself. I would love to take some time to learn or embellish on a few new-to-me techniques, such as adding color to completed designs, and making truer-to-nature textures with the clay so that pieces can look even more realistic.
Do you have any good advice for emerging artists?
Stick with it. Find your niche and run with it, since it always pays to be original. If you find something that you love doing, it won’t feel like work, but you can get paid to do what you love everyday!
What do you hope people get out of you artwork/writing/etc?
At the end of the day, board games are a lot of fun. You can learn a lot about people by playing tabletop games with them. I make my pieces because my family and friends love to spend time together — the pieces help make the gaming experience a little richer and more enjoyable. In our family, we’ve always had this feeling that investing in things that help us spend quality time together is worth it — board games fall into that category, as do game upgrades.
To date, what works of yours are most satisfied with?
I made a bespoke fantasy token set for a customer several years ago, that had a fairy, an ent, a satyr, and a few other fantasy creatures. It stretched my artistic abilities and they turned out pretty great.
I also designed a set of tokens to be used with the Robinson Crusoe invention cards — the detail in the cards is awesome, and they translated fantastically into 3D with clay — every time I make a set I’m impressed with them.
Make sure to stop by Epicycle Designs in the Comic Con Honolulu Artist Alley July 29-31, 2016!