As I've mentioned many times before, one of the best things about running Dark Elf Dice is the number of outstanding gamers and creators I've had the opportunity to meet over the years. Creative people make up the tabletop roleplaying game community, and I've always found inspiration from their unique content and works of art.

Recently, I had the chance to interview Gabriel Contreras, a freelance illustrator and writer from Austin, Texas who produces TTRPG adventure artwork aimed at inclusive roleplaying. For me, Gabriel's artwork breaks traditional fantasy boundaries and evokes the passion and mystery that exists in tabletop gaming. Through the use of color and theme, his exotic style challenges our imaginations. His illustrations are haunting and beautiful, and are the stuff of a true visionary.

Gabriel Contreras

Gabriel hosting a D&D session with friends. © Gabriel Contreras. Used with permission.

Gabriel Contreras Interview

Dark Elf Dice: What is your earliest tabletop RPG memory? Is there a specific character class you like to play?

Gabriel Contreras: The first time I played any TTRPG was when I was working for a video game company and our manager used it for a little team-building exercise. It was so fun that 6 of us decided that we would come into work early to play for a few hours before our shift started. I was a wiry arcane trickster that accidentally sent our whole party to their death in the Underdark. Oops. D:

My characters are often curious to a fault.


Gabriel Contreras Original Character Art

© Gabriel Contreras. Used with permission.

Dark Elf Dice: How long have you been creating artwork?

Gabriel Contreras: Art has been my passion since childhood, I attended art school right out of high school and have been an active artist ever since.

Dark Elf Dice: Are there any artists that inspire you?

Gabriel Contreras: I am currently teaching some art classes for youngsters from 4-to 10 and what I have found is that the art I enjoy most comes from completely unbridled creativity.

Dark Elf Dice: How does tabletop gaming influence your artwork?

Storytelling. Like 2D to 3D you can see your work from a different perspective, when you add a story to the piece you add yet another angle.


Gabriel Contreras Artwork 2
© Gabriel Contreras. Used with permission.

Dark Elf Dice: Besides gaming and illustrating, are there any other hobbies you enjoy?

Gabriel Contreras: I’m lucky enough to be able to be physically active so while not a “hobby” it is important to me to balance my lounge based activities with some outdoor adventures with my dog (Pazuzu)!

Dark Elf Dice: What advice would you give to an aspiring artist?

Gabriel Contreras: Participate in the artist community. Go to shows, galleries, and conventions. Submit to art contests, especially if they urge you out of your comfort zone. Practice across as many mediums as you can and if you hit a wall, don’t be afraid to lean on it and take a rest.

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Gabriel's Website

To see more examples of Gabriel's amazing artwork, and experience his talent as a storyteller, please be sure to visit his website here. His portfolio includes fantastic illustrations, character and magic item cards, RPG maps, and more.

Gabriel Contreras More Original Artwork

© Gabriel Contreras. Used with permission.

Final Thoughts

I want to thank Gabriel for taking the time to speak with me regarding his artwork and giving Dark Elf Dice a glimpse into his creative process. It's always a pleasure to speak with a talented artist involved with the gaming community. Gabriel's vision is truly unique and inspirational. I'm a huge fan!

Until next time fellow travelers. Always remember that you have the power to change the world and make it a better place. Peace and love :)

May 08, 2022 — Shane Scarbrough

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