[Ed: Mike Schley is a renowned game cartographer with clients such as Wizards of the Coast, Paizo and Scholastic and aworking on a complete new overland style for CC3+]
As a professional artist, I’ve produced a large body of work over the past decade and a half for clients ranging from game developers to public universities. Most recently, the majority of my fantastical cartography has been for publishers such as Wizards of the Coast and Scholastic Books. The opportunity to work with Profantasy came as a wonderful surprise since not only does it allow me to develop what I believe will be an awesome new addition to Campaign Cartographer, but it will also let folks that already like my work use a new style of it to let their own imaginations run wild. What could be better than that?
Years ago, when studying art in college, I would have never thought my career would develop into drawing intricate worlds and mythical lands. Now, as a full-time fantasy illustrator, I have difficulty imagining doing anything else. When I sit down to work every day, it’s like I’m transported back in time to being a kid again and drawing campaign maps for D&D or custom boards for all-night sessions of Risk. World building and visual storytelling are two of the most fun things I can imaging spending my days on and the fact that my audience gets a kick out of what I do is icing on the cake.
Combining the use of digital and traditional media, I try to convey a naturalistic visual style while benefitting from the clean and quickly editable properties of the digital format. For my work, it should look hand drawn, even if it’s done exclusively in Photoshop. I love the greats of the golden era of illustration like Rackham, Mucha, Pyle, and Wyeth and although I’m working in front of a screen and not an easel, it’s their art that informs my tastes. As for my cartography, it might also help that apparently I have ancestors such as Jacob van der Schley who also were enthralled by map making as far back as 18th century. Hooray for maps!