Illustration | St. Louis Public Radio

Illustration

Wingspan designer and avid birder Elizabeth Hargrave created the game after realizing most of the boardgames she was playing were about subjects she didn't care about, like castles and trains.
Shahla Farzan | St. Louis Public Radio

Board games have come a long way since Monopoly.

Players can spend hours immersed in sophisticated, story-driven games — building civilizations on Mars or battling dungeon monsters.

But one of the most popular games of the year isn’t focused on war or domination; it’s about birds.

In Wingspan, a scientifically accurate game from St. Louis-based publisher Stonemaier Games, players create their own personal aviary. The game has become wildly successful with both hardcore gamers and birders — groups whose interests don’t always overlap.

Mary Engelbreit is speaking at BookFest this Saturday.
Mary Engelbreit

Before she became a household name for her internationally acclaimed illustration work, Mary Engelbreit was a typical young adult finding a way to make a living in St. Louis. In her late teens and early 20s, she worked at a local art store and an ad agency — and then landed a job as an editorial artist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

She was let go during her probation period, she told listeners Wednesday during an interview with St. Louis on the Air. The unceremonious goodbye came after she challenged the fact that men were paid much more than women. 

In 2015, 12 million coloring books for adults were sold, according to Nielsen Bookscan. That’s a huge jump from 2014, when only 1 million were sold. As for 2016? We’ll have to wait and see, but it is certain the trend isn’t going away any time soon.

Samples of work form (left to right) John Hendrix, Fox Smith, Vidhya Nagarajan
Provided by the artists

Illustrators are storytellers who synthesize thousands of words into just a few images, or even a single frame. We recently invited three prominent local illustrators to tell stories about drawing for a living, in the first live recording of our Cut & Paste arts and culture podcast.