MMO Art Designer Chris Bourassa

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This is a great interview with Chris Bourassa who handles most of the Iron Realms art work and has worked on projects for other large gaming companies. He talks about his background in the gaming world, his progression of work for Iron Realms, how he does his art, and some tips for getting started in the art business. 

If you want to see more of his work, check it out here.

Fortress in a snow storm

Here is the transcribed version of the interview for your reading pleasure.

Space Marine

Ben Gorlick: Alright, this is Ben Gorlick and I am here with Chris Bourassa.

Chris Bourassa: Hey what's up?

Ben Gorlick: I thought it would be fun to do another interview for Iron Realms and while not a lot people know you, they likely know your artwork. You are one of the artists who has been doing artwork for the Iron Realms games, is that correct?

Chris Bourassa: Yes absolutely. I've been doing art for Iron Realms for a couple year now.

Ben Gorlick: Can you give us some background and how you became one of the Iron Realms artists?

Chris Bourassa: To be honest.. I can't remember. Matt Mihaly was running it (Iron Realms) years ago, six or sever years ago or something, and he somehow found my stuff and sent me this massive e-mail to do 26 characters or something. I got them all done and every time they wanted to update their art they came back to me which has been awesome, because they're a lot of fun to draw.

Ben Gorlick: That is awesome. How did Matt Mihaly find you exactly?

Chris Bourassa: I was hosting some art on concept art at the time and had a website. I've always had a full time job in video games, so I haven't pushed my online profile, but I always had a bit of a presence. 

Ben Gorlick: What kind of video games have you worked on that were a full time job?

Chris Bourassa: I worked on my own IP for a couple of years, we were going to do a play station 2 game but then Sony cancelled that, and then I got a job doing Rifts for the n-gage, an exciting platform. I did Sonic for the psp, I did Monster Lab for the Wii, and then I was the character art director for Armada of the Damned which was a Pirates of the Caribbean type of game and then it got cancelled six months before release. That was like 3 1/2 years of work so that was kind of hard.

Pirate Image

Ben Gorlick: Wow. You put a lot of time into that Pirates of the Caribbean game?

Chris Bourassa: Yea, it was looking really sweet but they had a change in strategic direction.

Ben Gorlick: Once that happened, did you decide to go freelance?

Chris Bourassa: I've always maintained a certain amount of Freelance going, predominantly for Iron Realms, but I always wanted to see if I could make a living doing freelance stuff. I decided to see if I could making a living at doing just freelance about a year ago and just dived into that.

Ben Gorlick: What are some of the first characters you remember doing for Iron Realms?

Chris Bourassa: The first batch was for Lusternia. A lot of anthropomorphic stuff, beast men, etc. Looking back on all that stuff, it was kind of crazy to see, I'm kind of embarrassed looking back.

Ben Gorlick: Why are you embarrassed?

Chris Bourassa: A skill change, practices makes you better.. It's cool to go back and see my old stuff, and I've definitely gotten more familiar with Iron Realms and stayed up to date with the game changes from the website and every time I get a new character I get a text-brief about the characters.

Ben Gorlick: How did you come up with the base foundation of your first text-character graphical illustrations?

Chris Bourassa: That's what makes it great. The Iron Realms art always has a distinct edge or slant, and they have an interesting sensibility when it comes to fantasy content. There stuff is always so tweaked, it's not just an Orc or not just a Goblin. That's what makes it so interesting, creating something that speaks to the description and injects some of my own sensibilities into it. Trying to find that balance, and Iron Realms is always really good to work with and I like to think at the end of the day they are happy for my stuff.

Ben Gorlick: The players are really taking a liking to it and if people are not familiar with it you can go to the Iron Realms site at

Ben Gorlick: Tell me a little about the creative process you create these with. Is it drawn on paper or the computer?

Chris Bourassa: The original Lusternia art I did pencil sketches of first and then I'd scan it and color it in photoshop. But then, as I got more experienced and the hardware and software progressed. I still start in the same way, in black and white before I start getting mixed up in color. If you dive in too fast, you get lost in the foods, and sometimes you can compromise your design in favor of getting your work done. I try to be a little more deliberate.

Ben Gorlick: How exactly do you get your characters out there as a Freelance out there? How do you get paid to do art?

Chris Bourassa: If you're just getting started, I say go get a job. Don't rely on the Internet to support you. The Internet is cruel, it's not a place to just build a career. I think you need team experience and working with a group of people that challenge you. I couldn't imagine graduating art school and then sitting in my basement trying to make a living. You need to get out and get pushed, otherwise you're going to spend all day drawing anime' girls and dragons, but you're not going to get any better, except at drawing anime' girls and dragons. If you get out, you can make contacts and go from there. It's always good to keep a blog going, and have an internet presence, but you can't just rely on it.

Ben Gorlick: I know you have a blog and website. What is it?

Chris Bourassa

Ben Gorlick: You have a comic strip too correct? Died Again?

Chris Bourassa: It's a good chance people haven't heard of it. I brought up the idea for one of the Iron Realms sites to mildly entertain people, and I approached the idea deliberately to do as little work as possible. It's black and white, super flat and I just try to have fun with it and use it as a break. I was worried if I committed to some elaborate art style, it would just bog me down and then I'd start to resent it. I just treat it as a 2-hour departure from what I normally do. Working with the writer Matt has been really awesome too, he's a really funny guy.

Ben Gorlick: What's your favorite character you've done for an Iron Realms game?

MMO Bard

Chris Bourassa: Some of the recent stuff came out pretty good. I was really happy with the Satyr and the Grook, I felt like a hit a bit of a stride. The bard for Imperian that I finished off six months ago. I liked the rough for the Siren, a lot of people hate the Siren, but you know.. working from a very short brief, and the rough was pretty sweet, but as I kind of pushed it I think it got kind of off track.

Ben Gorlick: Maybe in the future would you be willing to show your creative process to the viewing audience, do a quick sketch, show some of the styles that you use?

Chris Bourassa: I did a tutorial once for Babe Lab, step-by-step thing, and since I have four more guys to do for Aetolia, and I'll just pick the one that turns out the best and I'll put it together in a bit of an article. 

Ben Gorlick: That would be great. Is there anything you'd like to share?

Chris Bourassa: I love it when people write comments on the art that Iron Realms posts on the site. It helps me understand the sensibilities of the Iron Realms fan base, it's cool to get a window of what's important to the community. I think the response has been really healthy for me as an artist so I can understand where to take these things in the future and what people really respond to.

Ben Gorlick: Chris, I appreciate your time, we look forward to more of your art on the Iron Realms sites. We'd love to talk with you more in the future.

Chris Bourassa: Thank you so much for having me on the show!


Incredible work! The depth and colour of his artwork is astounding.


I'm rather surprised that he does not seem to actually play any IRE game and his drawings are from the provided descriptions.

Awesome work like, the siren Apostate and skeleton captain.

Does his portrait exist yet? :D

It was nice to get to know more about the artist behind the amazing artwork.  Thanks, Ben Gorlick!

Can't wait to see more!


His work


Those pictures are so cool!



Love the art and can't wait to see more

Some of the best art I have seen in a long, long time. Awesome.

Love his work, but it'd be even better if some pieces weren't so obviously boobs in your face. It takes away from an otherwise wonderful piece. Nothing wrong with giving some characters a nice pair, but there's a point at which it just gets too silly.

I agree with you Nerezza, but damn good art!

We all enjoy your artwork. Not only is it good art it stimulates my imagination. see this interview. Really enjoy his art style. And I think all of the Lusternia art is awesome. I really love the Kephera and the Tae'dae!

wow..makes me want to do some now


I like your artwork!

Does he draw using pen and paper, or is this all using a comp?

Tablet I believe he said, when I was watching his stream.

He does awesome work. :) Love it.

I'm jealous :<

keep creating awesome art Chris! Congrats

looks awesome


Great artwork, good to see more interviews on here... although it could be because I hadn't looked before.

i love this guy. really, i do. he's one guy i won't Hostage.

Awesome stuff but needs more serpent. The offending siren, hah. Mostly appropriate.


gotta love the art

A lot better than anything I can do. Still, sometimes, what he draws is a disconnect from what I imagine when I read the descriptions, but that's not necessarily a bad thing

I really appreciate someone who takes the time to produce these wonderful pieces for the rest of us to enjoy and envy.

will having a soulpatch improve my drawing skills?


I'm hit and miss on a lot of the drawings for IRE (personal taste etc.) but one still can't deny he's good and fairly brilliant at shading.

Chris adds alot to the game. I really like the wasteland fort picture. I am assuming that that one light that was left on is a search light.

Great interview - he does great work!

I recognized the Lotro Piece Immediately.

The art is realy, really awesome!

Love your art work!

Very cool.

Lusternia was first!

No, it was not.

I like all of the art he does but I especially like the art that breaks the sterotypical mold. for instance Dwarves are usually portrayed as short, fat stocky bearded, axe wielding fighters. what about an older bespectacled dwarf who is a thinner, balding, clean shaven, magi? Is this not possible?


Chris has some wonderful art.

Dark angel guy looks freakin awsome!

Nothing more need said!

but it will be!