Julie Okahara was born in Osaka, Japan and after graduating from Osaka Industrial Arts High School, began work as a graphic designer. Wanting to further their studies in studio art, Julie came to California in 2005. Since then Julie has expanded into acrylic painting, ink drawing, sewing and clay sculpting. This year, she started teaching herself animation and now live-streams with interactive animations on her Twitch channel.
“Hi there. My name is Julie. I have been a board game artist since 2014 when my friends asked me to illustrate for their first game and actually that’s the only game I have illustrated so far.
“I normally paint my own images with traditional media like watercolour, acrylic painting and some mixed media.
“The art style I’m best known for is… my art style is hard to be labelled since I didn’t study or follow a particular style. I do work with traditional media but my style is not traditional art, more leaning towards stylized illustration. Some people have told me it’s fun and cheerful, others have told me it’s whimsical and a bit spooky.
“The first board game I was an artist for was Project Dreamscape. The work I am most proud of for the board game was Project Dreamscape because it’s my first and only one. I wish I had more experience as a board game artist. I had a lot of fun creating illustrations to help share the world of the game. It was challenging but still fun and I learned a lot through that project.
“I like creating artwork that is fun and colourful but somewhat melancholic and a bit spooky, also artwork that speaks to any age and makes them wonder about a story behind the piece and maybe inspire them to come up with their own story.
“I get my inspiration from nature, colours and small moments from my daily life. I think the most important part of making artwork for board games is telling a story, bringing its world to life, because each game has their own story and a unique world that works well with its gameplay.
“I think the most challenging part of making artwork for board games is communicating with designers because the story and images are not in my head – they are in designers’ heads.
“The longest I worked on art for a board game was for Project Dreamscape. It took me 5 months, maybe a half a year to finish. It’s just because it was very successful on Kickstarter and kept on unlocking stretch goals with expansions.
“In my view, more board game artwork should have a variety of styles. It can be from a serious, hyper-realistic, fantasy look to super silly, kiddish, fun illustrations like how book covers are.
“The artists I admire the most are Dick Bruna, Raymond Savignac. Those are my favourite graphic designers and Nara Yoshitomo. My favourite colour is pale coral pink. This is only for my personal belongings. Nothing to do with my artwork though.
“What very few people know about me is I do not like chocolate.
“If you wanted to become a board game artist yourself I would say get involved in the community, which I should do more of as well. I love playing board games and card games with my friends, so if you do enjoy it, don’t be shy. Open up the door to the gaming community. I heard it’s pretty comfy.
“If you want to get in touch you can reach me via Twitter or Instagram @julieokahara, or contact me through my website at julieokahara.com.