My name is David Forest, I just turned 28 years old, and for the past three years I’ve been better known for my work on board games as Mr. Cuddington. Perhaps confusingly, Mr. Cuddington is not the work of a single artist but actually an equal collaboration between me and my very talented wife Lina Cossette.
We do about everything together (including playing board games!) so much that it felt natural to fuse our skills together and act as a single artistic entity. We are new parents of two wonderful kids and work from our little home studio in Warwick, Québec, a lovely little town about 2 hours away from Montreal. We illustrated on quite a few games so far, such as Unfair, Santorini, Charterstone and Brass among others.
We got the idea of starting an art studio not so long after we started living together. At the time, Lina was hired as a 2d artist in a video game company and I was working as a 3d animator for the film industry. We were renting an apartment in Montreal, and while we loved the big city, the idea of building a little nest somewhere more peaceful slowly made its way into our heads as we considered starting a family. One thing we enjoyed immensely was illustrating side by side in our spare time. We had no idea if we could really make a living out of it, but the thought of being free to choose our own projects and live anywhere we wanted was exciting enough to give freelance illustration a try.
We built a little website and posted our work on BGG. One of our first client was Gavan Brown from Roxley Games. At the time he was just starting out his own publishing studio and was looking for an illustrator for a game called Steampunk Rally. We clicked right away and after some months of hard work the game was up on Kickstarter, funded on day one, and pretty much blew up all of our expectations. This was really the moment we thought okay, we can really do this! We took a leap of faith and bought a house far from the city – essentially burning all bridges to our old life as there’s scarcely any video game or film studio around here – and turned the whole second floor into an art studio. Flash forward a few years and Lina and I now live comfortably illustrating board games full-time and couldn’t be happier with our new life!
We both have slightly different styles of painting but since we generally both touch every illustrations we do, it’s pretty hard to tell. I think it helps that we have complementary skills – Lina is very good with characters and rougher sketches, while my strong suit is rather in perspective, lighting and finer details. We work mostly with Photoshop these days, although we sometimes do a bit of 3d modeling and animation in other programs when needed. Having a wide range of skills gives us the opportunity to work on many aspects of a game like miniatures and Kickstarter videos, which we’ve really been enjoying so far.
When we need some inspiration, we tend to open up Pinterest or ArtStation and marvel at all the beautiful work and talented artists out there. While it can be a bit intimidating, it is also a big motivator and pushes us to continue working harder and improving our own technique. One of the things we like most is to choose projects that allow us to try different themes and visual styles. We find it refreshing to challenge ourselves to try new things, and feel lucky that so many of our clients have been willing to let us explore beyond what is on our portfolio.
We’re often asked what our favorite project is and it’s honestly hard to choose. One thing we can say is that the whole year of 2017 has been fantastic. Grimm Forest, Charterstone and Brass are three of the games we’re most proud of, and we can’t wait for them to hit the stores. That said, out of the currently published games, I think we can say Santorini holds a special place in our hearts. We find it so incredibly rewarding every time we see pictures of people playing it. In fact, it might be our first published game about which we can say “we did that one!” and people usually know what we’re talking about.
We love how board games can bring people together. In a time where everything and everyone is connected at all times, there’s something unique about opening a tangible box made of cardboard and share an experience in person. Games are also a great way to teach kids many useful skills in a fun way, and we can’t wait for our little ones to be old enough to play with us!