Interview with Mihajlo Dimitrievski (The Mico)

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Tell me a little bit about yourself.
My name is Mihajlo Dimitrievski - a.k.a. The Mico (miCHo) - and I’m an illustrator from Macedonia, a small country in the Balkans. I like to draw (poorly) and I like comics, toys, and stuff. In my recent years I’ve become very fond of sleeping because of how much I’m missing.

How did you get started doing art for the boardgame industry?
I started drawing for the board industry by accident. I’ve been illustrating for a long time and I was working on (and still do work on) comics, book illustrations, storyboards, etc. In the early days before the internet it was harder to reach out and connect abroad. But with social media and stuff I decided to share some of my work on there (pre-Facebook, Deviantart days). I like to show what I do and I like to see what other people are doing in the field of comics, illustration, games, and similar. I guess some people saw my stuff and liked it so I started getting mail to do these new things called “boardgames”. I really had no idea what boardgames were a couple of years ago (sorry) except for MtG, collecting cards, or Monopoly. It was a new thing for me. I really like to move from one thing to another during the day (storyboards in the morning, animation around noon, and illustrating at night) so I liked the idea and I got in. The first ‘official’ game that I did was “Shipwrights of the North Sea” by Shem Philips. I guess people liked what they saw and they started calling me. From then on I’ve done a lot of boardgames. I’m very happy that I have learned a new discipline and a new medium that has so many wonderful people in it that I previously didn’t know existed. So yeah, that is my start.

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Do you like playing games that you’ve done the art for or does it make you feel self conscious?
I would like to play the games that I draw, but sadly drawing them requires a lot of time. I also work on movies and animation and I do have a family that I love and have to spend some time with. At the moment I have played 0 boardgames, though I do collect them. I’m waiting for the right moment for my kids to grow up (9 and 5) so that we can start playing and they can tell me what all the fuss is about. I like to play video games on PS4, but again, deadlines suck so I have to play like 15 minutes a day. That is enough for one multiplayer stage on Overwatch or Titanfall 2, or maybe one swing of the axe of Kratos. I’m not complaining. I would love to play games, but I don’t really have time so I get second best thing: a lot of other people playing them and enjoying them.

How long does each piece of art usually take for a card? What about a box cover or a board?
Ideally a couple of days. However, this is a business and a job and the printing machines and conventions can't wait. So I usually do the art for a couple of cards a day. That’s a good day. There are days that I do nothing because I have to go pay the bills, pick up stuff, or holidays. And some days I just feel like doing nothing. Still, I usually manage to do couple of illustrations a day. Some take longer than others. For some, I read the description and I think for a week about it and then draw them. Some of them I don’t like how they turned out so I do them over again. Covers usually take longer because I do a lot of back-and-forth with publishers and designers so that the final product is “perfect” for all sides. It is stressful and time consuming, but this is a business of joy and we do bring happiness and fun times (including for ourselves). I live from drawing and I buy stuff from drawing (mainly comics and toys).

When you are working on a project, how precise are the guidelines given to you? Are you usually given a vague idea or a very firm description?
The guidelines vary depending on the publisher or designer. Some send me just a list of stuff and some send me pages of beautifully explained... everything. From illustrations to icons to UI, I personally like when I get as basic info as I can so that I can draw as much from my head as I can. Like: “We need a knight” and so I draw a knight. There are times when I get specific tasks and I have to do them. Stuff like the scene, the race, the mood, etc. Again, that depends on the author, publisher, or designer of the game. The purpose is to make the best game or product that we can together (including the story, design, art, etc) because the game is a full package and it has to function on all levels. I don’t have a problem with any particular way of description or direction of the projects. Usually when we know each other, the coordination goes smoothly (or at least that’s what they tell me).

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How did you and Daily Magic Games become connected?
Well, that was at the start of my “career” as a boardgame artist. Daily Magic is one of the companies that first approached me (specifically it was Isaias). We were doing Valeria Card Kingdoms, and if I recall correctly, it should have had something like 40 illustrations. I think we are way passed that number now. I even mentioned that once to Isaias. I said “Man we were suppose to do 40 illustrations?!” And he just answered matter-of-factly “Yeah”. This was for dramatic purposes. Everybody at DMG is great from my point of view and I really hope to meet up sometime. Maybe we can all drink coffee together. Isaias especially because he is having the most trouble with me.

What is your favorite art you’ve made for DMG so far?
I always say that my drawings are my children and I do love all of my children. There is so much stuff in Valeria (and more to come) that sometimes I’m surprised when I see something that I have done. I like to draw monsters and crazy stuff. I do love my monster stuff from Valeria. Please make more monsters games and perhaps some massive battles with catapults and dragons and stuff. [Editor’s Note: We’re working on a new Valeria game called Shadow Kingdoms, which is all about monsters…Mico gets his wish]

Any advice for aspiring artists?
Just draw. It is a cliche answer but that’s it. Work more. Connect with people and don’t be an a**hole. Not sure that I can go deeper than that. Again, we are in a very beautiful industry and we are doing magic. So yeah, just draw and be happy.

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The Kickstarter preview page is up for Margraves of Valeria. You can find that here. We will be launching the campaign on Monday, July 15th. Be sure to check it out, you won’t want to miss it!

If you would like to see more about the gameplay from the eyes of a previewer, we have several to choose from including this one from Never Board Gaming: