The Fluffy Folio: A Talk About D&D Art & Homebrew Critters

Michael Habiger, who lives in Vienna, is a part-time web developer and university project assistant – but his spare time is spent on enriching the world of Dungeons and Dragons by creating the tiniest, fluffiest oddball creatures. His instagram, @the_fluffy_folio, began on July 31st of this year, with digital art focused mostly on creating races and classes for D&D. On September 7th however, interest shifted primarily from people to curious critters, with the publication of his first ever creature; the Twiddletoad.

Basic Snitch and The Fluffy Folio sat down for a remote chat about all things D&D art!

The Fluffy Folio | © Michael Habiger
How did you first get into illustrating?

There was always some kind of affinity to drawing and painting in my life. When my family got its first computer – 8 MB RAM and it was a powerhouse, so you can imagine how long ago that was – I immediately declared the drawing program to be my absolute favourite. Graphic tablets weren’t available back then, and I had just learned how to use a mouse. I don’t remember when I got my first tablet, maybe 10 years ago? I remember that I loved it! At that point, I was also starting to get more serious about painting and reading corresponding literature. I watched tutorials, or studied other paintings in much more detail than I had ever before. I didn’t go to art school, so painting still remained more of a much-loved hobby. Of course, I also took breaks, sometimes very long ones, but I never completely dropped the pen.

What pushes you to never drop the pen?

I’ve experienced three considerable motivational pushes to keep painting these last few years. I began illustrating a card game, which I’ve been working on for three years. I also started playing Dungeons & Dragons, and would draw my party’s characters. Around this time, I received my first commissions after posting my work on social media. This exposure, sharing and discussing art as well as engaging with the community, is a great joy for me and it really keeps me going. Although painting isn’t my full-time job, I hope it someday will be. It would be the dream!

Chiminimera | © Michael Habiger | © The Fluffy Folio
How has your style as an artist developed over the years, and what’s something you’ve learned by sticking with it?

That’s a tough one. I think it’s hard to notice how your own style develops in the making. It’s mostly an unconscious process. What happens, though, is that I notice bad habits from time to time – or notice that I’m losing track [of what I want to be creating]. That’s when I engage in research, and study other art to tweak my skills actively. What I really want to maintain is working with different levels of detail within one painting. It’s a process in which the painting is able to suggest several points of focus to the observer. [On the topic of] sticking with it – if something doesn’t work, don’t give up, try again.

What sort of programs or tools do you rely on, and what could you recommend to other (D&D) artists?

I use the classic Photoshop and a graphic tablet combo – it’s what I’m used to. But I can advise that you don’t always need the fanciest tablet out there. I have two; a sophisticated one full of buttons and features, and one very basic, small tablet. And well, I haven’t touched the sophisticated tablet in months. The portability of the smaller one is very useful, and I don’t usually take up that much space on the drawing area. But, it all comes down to personal preference.

Heartbold | © Michael Habiger | © The Fluffy Folio

I love taking a closer look at tiny details, like moss, bark, or roots. I try to think of them as tiny worlds and imagine what creatures might live in there.

What or who do you draw the most inspiration from? Pun intended!

My wife! She patiently listens to all my ideas, and I tend to have a lot of them. She helps me reflect on them, and I can’t thank her enough. Another inspiration is nature – I love taking a closer look at tiny details, like moss, bark, or roots. I try to think of them as tiny worlds and imagine what creatures might live in there. Mostly, though, I’m inspired by my 6-month-old son. Never in my life have I painted more productively, both in regards to time management and content. I started with smaller works – naturally time is a bit scarce now! I tried to paint as much as I could during his naps. Funnily, lack of time somehow did the trick for me.

When did you get into Dungeons and Dragons? Do you have a favourite D&D show?

Sometime in 2017, though I already owned the books in my youth. These were mainly books concerning creatures; I really loved the illustrations and backstories, and I remember spending hours reading through them over and over again! The stats didn’t interest me that much yet. Now that I play, I have a preference for the roleplaying aspects of D&D and I like the simplicity of 5e. Of course, I also love all the awesome homebrew stuff available to players. It makes it vivid and diverse – I like that. And my favourite show would be Acquisitions Incorporated – love everything about it, from the cheesy website to their PAX shows – always good for a laugh 🙂

Twiddletoad | © Michael Habiger | © The Fluffy Folio
Is there a class or type of folk that you tend towards playing?

Hmm, not really. I like playing a cleric, but all classes and folks have their own charm. For me, it’s more about the character and how they interact with the world. And well – I have a whole cohort of characters lined up, each one waiting for their turn. Once I start playing one, I tend to make a plan about how to get the next one into the game, [be it their departure, or death, for example]. Poor characters, now I feel bad! Fortunately for them, I’m more of a Dungeon Master anyway.

What is your favourite thing about D&D?

It has no boundaries, it’s social, and it’s fun! As a DM, I love listening to all my players coming up with plans. I like how they role-play their characters and shape the world they are in through them. For me, it’s a great pleasure be immersed in another universe, and not have to think about the real world for a few hours. Combine that with meeting friends, and it’s the perfect evening 🙂

Where did the idea of drawing fuzzy, strange creatures for D&D come from? Do you feel that this is something that’s missing in D&D?

The Twiddletoad was the first of my critters, and the idea was relatively spontaneous. Late one night, I felt the urge to finish this digital painting. The idea to actually make stats for the Twiddletoad then came about a few days later, when I thought about implementing this fella as a fun little encounter for my adventurers. Since then, I’ve really enjoyed both aspects; the painting process and the stat creation. Somehow, I felt a push to populate the world of D&D with a mass of tiny creatures 😀 I always had the idea of a scholar in my mind, on a search for unique and rare critters, documenting and describing them. I liked the concept, so decided to stick with it!

Vamster | © Michael Habiger | © The Fluffy Folio
Do you play any other RPG games, or are you looking to get in to any?

Not at the moment, but I’m a big fan of RPGs, and have played them my whole life, mainly digitally. From Nintendo to PC, this genre has definitely remained my favourite. I’ve always wanted to try Call of Cthulhu, pen and paper – I love the lore!

If you had to explain D&D to a newcomer, how would you go about it?

D&D is a game about great, [collaborative storytelling]. Nobody wins and nobody loses. Even if you fail on a roll, consider it an opportunity to create an epic scene. If The Lord of The Rings were a D&D session, even the Fellowship came out [on top] with bad rolls!

Woolpertinger | © Michael Habiger | © The Fluffy Folio
Do you have any favourite artists you’d like to shout out? Who should we be keeping up with?

There are so, so many talented artists out there, that it is really hard to pin down. Overall, I enjoy the many shared influences, the exchanging, and the mutual support! Lately, I learned the word Amigurumi, thanks to @konsumlumpen on Instagram, and I really love the tiny creatures he’s creating! So, [style-wise], I always keep an open mind.

Who or what has supported and helped you most along the way?

Everyone and everything. I take each experience, and use it to drive me to keep working on my paintings – be it positive or negative experiences. It’s all valuable and helpful somehow. Concretely, I want to thank my family and friends for their support, and of course my supporters on social media for their awesome feedback!

What’s hardest about being part of the art or D&D community, and where do you think we can do better?

At the minute, it’s difficult for me to advise on where to improve. Luckily, I haven’t had any truly negative experiences in either community.

What’s your final message to all the D&D nerds out there?

Keep on homebrewing, and keep playing D&D!

Thumbstall Knight Stats | © Michael Habiger | © The Fluffy Folio

You can find Michi @the_fluffy_folio on Instagram, and u/michifromkmk on Reddit. If you like his work and would like to support him, give him a like, comment, or follow on either account! Though he doesn’t currently run a Ko-fi or Patreon, plans are being made for the future. In the meantime, he’s keeping busy taking care of his 6-month old son, hanging out with his ever-supportive and awesome wife, and populating the world of Dungeons and Dragons with the most unforgettable, tiny, fluffy critters!

The value of honest work and how to support your locals

Quarantined amidst (justifiable) coronavirus panic, I am one of the few who can still sit in a café with a cup of tea once a week and watch as passersby pick up their food in bulk. 1.5 meters away from the smallest sign of movement, alone at the closed bar of the Little Plant Pantry, I find it impossible to ignore the thought of other small businesses and how they will be affected by the crisis, some of their owners coming in to share their afflictions. Whereas corporations will lose money and stock value, smaller (local) companies might be forced to lay off their employees, and risk going out of business without fast and creative solutions.

“It ain’t much, but it’s honest work.”

My mind rushes to the irreparable impact the coronavirus pandemic will have, especially on all the honest work that is done (you know, work where you don’t manipulate or oversell, work that is collaborative and caring, or about creating something beautiful without a focus on huge profit, with a love for the job itself). As a result of the lockdown, a great number of honest workers will now be struggling, those exact people who dedicate their lives to contributing to greater good, however big or small their service may be. And there it is: however big or small their service.

I wonder why we entertain the idea that honest work isn’t worth much, that the service isn’t always big, and that some jobs are more important than others because of their title or socio-economic standing. It is clear to me now more than ever how much we rely on honest and dependable work: nurses and service industry staff are getting us through this crisis, and so is a hell of a lot of pro bono work.

Devaluation of honest work makes me think of this meme of a farmer who’s undermining his own contribution to society. He seems so convinced that all he slaves away for really isn’t much, but at least it’s honest. A sad disclaimer and an almost insignificant defence, separated by a measly comma.

Honest work and segregation

Part of me understands the disclaimer “It ain’t much”, having been taught to strive for great success, the kind that will leave a lasting impression. Striving for greatness has me necessarily compare to ‘that which is not great’, and it has conditioned me to think that a lot of work is, frankly, not worth much.

None of us are blind to the segregation we create between important and unimportant jobs, and to the value we impart on honest careers we consider impressive, such as being a doctor. Yet the list of honest jobs that many of us rely on enormously but take completely for granted is endless; that’s a heartbreaking shout out to all the small food businesses and artisans, for example.

What surprises me is how little credit and consideration we give to jobs that are both honest and essential to our society (what a feat). As a (pre-corona) part-time cat sitter and full-time volunteer at a packaging-free and zero plastic, minimal waste vegan bulk store, I feel now how satisfying it can be to give back, our shop flooded with those who couldn’t find pasta on the empty shelves of their neighbourhood supermarket. We are considered essential work. I, not hired during the course of my 5-month application spree, am considered essential. Yet, only a handful of people see it that way.

Courtesy doesn’t cut it, but a title will

Only now do I see the irony in the constellation of hierarchies we have made for and of ourselves. The laziest professor in the world would still impress me. The idea of intelligent work impresses me because we have somehow tricked ourselves into thinking that the more we hyper-particularise and climb a fictitious ladder, the more special we are, and the more knowledgeable we are. The more valuable we are. The more we are worth. This is not necessarily true.

I’d walk the aisles of an unflinching classroom, small limbs sheepishly pinned to their sides, should I be so bold as to ask: raise your hands those of you who consider impressive cat-sitting, cooking, farming, making coffee art, owning a small business, creative writing, doing honest work.

Why is what we do “not much”? And can I convince you to think otherwise, to support us now when we need it most?

Subjective suggestions: Amsterdam businesses you can support right now

Little Plant Pantry: For your pastas, grains, beans, rices, nuts, chocolates, soaps, deodorant, moisturiser, vegan milk and cheese, teas, coffees, cookies, granolas. All the basics you’re looking for, all organic, homemade, vegan, natural! Visit in store, or order to collect at

Screaming Beans: A speciality coffee café with a house blend and some of the best, ethically-sourced coffee in Amsterdam, dare I say. If you’ve always wanted to make amazing coffee at home, SB has a sale of 21% on their Brew At Home set right now. And they’re now back with takeaway!

Willem-Pie: Delicious vegan cakes, including the typical Dutch roze koeken. Now delivering through Life of Pie to supply you with STAY OCAKE. Pun-tastic.

Holy Nut: Bite-sized plant-based goodies run by a one-woman show!

Max & Bien, and Rosie & Riffy: Amazing vegan cheeses, enough said.

The Very Good Candle Co.: Cruelty-free, eco-friendly candles and fragrances.

Yerba Restaurant & Bar: Seasonal dishes, with à la carte weekly menus. Order to collect!

SauerCrowd: Naturally fermented plant-based food sourced from organic farms.

Obacht: Maria is an Amsterdam-based freelance graphic designer doing top quality creative work! And, Obacht’s instagram is so aesthetically pleasing.

Eat Mielies Weird Illustration: Fun and weird illustrations on socks, key rings, mugs, you name it (a lot of genitals and pet portraits, folks).

DIYSoaps & Het Zeeplokaal: The names speak for themselves, and their soap is great.

Kind Words: Okay this one is not local, but if you’re a Steam gamer who enjoys niche cute vibes, lo-fi chill music, and writing sweet letters, this is it. It’s a game about writing and receiving nice letters and is particularly uplifting right now. Consider investing in some fun indie games.

Plastic Free Amsterdam: Your guide to a zero plastic, zero waste shopping experience.

Plant Ahead: Handmade sustainable products, including the cutest coconut bowls and candle lights.

Gift cards & vouchers : Can’t visit your favourite place right now? Are they not delivering (yet)? Consider purchasing a gift card or voucher you can use later.

Cat-sitting: You might not be going anywhere now, but you’ll book a vacation one day, and your cats will thank you later for having thought ahead. If you want to support me as a cat sitter for your future travels by way of voucher, send me a message!

Basic Snitch & Quibbsy: Looking for some (creative) writing, graphics, or cool postcards? E-mail me at:

At the very least, consider ethical consumerism, shopping with Etsy and Bol, or directly from the business, and avoiding Amazon. Bezos has enough $$$, and enough to think about too: employment conditions, packaging, carbon emissions.

Black Friday and the dangers of greenwashing campaigns

Last year, Burberry burned unsold items worth £28.6m (€33.5m) in a singular bid to protect its brand, and the hyper-consumerism that Black Friday and Cyber Monday desperately encourage is likely to fuel similar scandals behind closed doors this year. Sustainability and up-cycling has a mindful ring to it, and big brand names and companies are really starting to get it. In fact, they are getting it a little too well. Here are some key issues to keep in mind this weekend whilst shopping, or hopefully, not shopping at all.

MediaNews Group/Getty Images


A noticeable trend in modern (Black Friday) marketing strategies is the use of keywords such as ‘green’, ‘compostable’, ‘biodegradable’, and ‘sustainable’ as a selling point, especially in the fashion industry. Anything that is googled or trending can be picked up by SEO marketeers, which is not exactly a secret seeing as almost every ad on Facebook and Instagram is now ‘highly personalised and tailored to fit your needs (?) and preferences’.

An article posted two days ago by Ethical Corp mentions that research done by Hubbub, a sustainability communications charity, has shown that two thirds of surveyed people don’t actually enjoy taking part in Black Friday, with half feeling uncomfortable about the event. With the upper-hand, companies are now appealing to the public by using everybody’s favourite ‘eco-words’, such as sustainability, to incite consumers to buy their products.

Greenwashing, marketing campaigns that use the environment for financial profit only, promote buy-waste-buy by appealing to this generation’s environmentally-conscious consumers, and do so without the planet in mind. In an earlier 2017 report by Pulse of the Fashion, market-driven sustainability was found to have great limitations in terms of actually being beneficial to the environment, as brands still need to sell more in order to generate a profit, and initiatives to address environmental and social issues in sales campaigns were only contributing to the buy-waste-buy cycle.

The sustainability ploy

Hubbub also concludes that “nobody currently has a clue about what constitutes a ‘sustainable material’.” So what does green and sustainable fashion actually mean, and are sellers covering all significations of the words?

Sustainability is a word encapsulating a number of complex processes and ways of thinking, and is not only limited to durability and ethically-sourced. The product might be long-lasting, and it might not have been produced in a sweat factory, but what are working conditions like for the employees that have made the garment? How much are they being payed and what are they sacrificing in order to be there? What material is the garment made of, and what is the company’s understanding of a sustainable fibre? Is it renewable? Has it been dyed and prepared in a way that might harm the environment? Were all parts of the process of turning raw fibre into textile sustainable? What is the total carbon footprint of the material, including transportation, shipping, washing, processing and more? And what happens to the product when it has reached the end of its lifecycle? Is it recycled, or burned like Burberry?


Not knowing what a brand means when they say their product is sustainable also highlights a lack of transparency: it’s difficult to tell what makes a sustainable material when it isn’t clear from the product descriptions or advertising campaigns, and materials that are seen as sustainable aren’t in fact produced in a sustainable way.

For example, cotton is the most widely used clothing fibre, and prevalent in apparel fibre. In fact, it accounts for over 50% of clothing material worldwide, and at the same time it uses 2.4% of all our arable lands and needs 16% of the world’s pesticides. It is often bleached, dyed, and washed so much so that calling it sustainable seems almost absurd. Efforts to reduce plastic waste would then be undermined if every Black Friday shopper decides to buy that extra cotton tote bag they don’t need.

Brands are also failing to report emissions properly, with the majority reporting only their annual carbon footprint. Some brands report no emissions at all. If a company boasts sustainable materials, but it’s not clear what makes the material sustainable, and there are no extensive emission reports available, then perhaps there are grounds for thinking twice before buying.

Online shopping’s carbon footprint

As mentioned above, sustainability also has to do with the overall carbon footprint of a product, which includes transportation, packaging, preparation and more. In an interview published a week ago, Diana Verde Nieto, co-founder of Positive Luxury, says to Bustle’s Lauren Sharkey that “In 2017, it was estimated that every 93 seconds, a diesel truck left an Amazon fulfilment centre.” She adds that if something is returned, shipping impact is doubled.

Online shopping is just as harmful for the environment, with massive air pollution spikes during Black Friday and Cyber Monday due to a surge in online orders. And yet, a 2019 report done by PricewaterhouseCoopers, shows that shopping is now largely done online in the UK (77%), Germany (75%), the Netherlands (66%), France (65%), and Ireland (63%).

The urgency trap

The biggest trap of them all is perhaps urgency: consumer psychologist Nisa Bayindir highlights the “sense of urgency in consumers’ minds” that is created by events such as Black Friday. This urgency is prevalent in the creative editorial industry, and well-known to digital-space copywriters (hi that’s me) who are often tasked with maximising ‘inspiring call-to-action copy.’

Oxford-educated business women and influencer Grace Beverley, who founded multimillion dollar businesses B_ND and TALA during her undergraduate studies, prides herself on being very focused on sustainability and ethically-sourced products. Despite this, her businesses still knowingly engage in ‘urgency-trap’ behaviour. Whilst TALA joins the boycott by refusing to participate in Black Friday, sister brands B_ND and SHREDDY do not.

Beverley has released a statement on Instagram clarifying that the brands are separate, and that the modest sales being offered are to help students and other consumers who normally would not be able to afford her high quality products. And yet, her Black Friday campaigns all promote urgency with words such as “today and today only”, “what are you waiting for”, “Get subscribing now”, “24 hours” all in one post.

When urgency is promoted as part of marketing campaigns, it incites customers to act quickly without adequate time to think or conduct research, increasing the likelihood of regretting a purchase, and ultimately contributing to the production of waste.

In the same IGTV video, Beverley admits that “It’s amazing to see kind of how many people love the idea of not doing Black Friday”, and this has not been lost on eco-friendly brands. Beauty company DECIEM, who has also refused to participate in Black Friday, still announced on November 1st that they would be having a month-long sale of 23% off an all items, effectively turning Black Friday into Black November. How about the radical idea of not participating in Black Friday this month, like, at all?

Recycling’s complexities

Many people do have the environment in mind, take note of the fine print, read up on emissions, and recycle on a weekly basis. The problem with recycling is that the process is far more complex than a few bins separating different materials from each other. Unearthed, Greenpeace’s investigative journalism news site, points out that mixed fibre garments cannot be recycled. The Textile Recycling Association adds that certain types of recycling processes (mechanical) shorten fibres drastically so that the majority of textiles can really only be recycled once.

Reward systems: Recycle-Buy-Recycle

Next level greenwashing, beyond marketing campaigns, also occurs in the form of take back schemes that encourage customers to trade unused clothing for vouchers, effectively promoting an apparently ‘green’ recycle and reward culture. According to Greenpeace, the ‘waste’ is then resold or recycled into lower grade products, which at first seems like a step forward; however, the outcome of recycled clothing is not always positive in terms of customer satisfaction, and the ulterior motive is that the client is essentially gifted a tiny discount and incentivised to treat this as a call-to-action to shop more, perpetuating the buy-waste-buy cycle. Sadly, recycling has now also become an effective marketing strategy for business- and consumer-oriented companies who are not truly focused on the environment.

Donating to charities, and landfills

Ignoring the reward system and refusing to recycle clothing by trading it in at an H&M for a 5 euro voucher must mean that it’s safe to assume that your unwanted clothing has a spot amongst the racks of a charity shop. And yet, according to a (somewhat dated) 2006 ABC New Report, only an estimated 10% of donated clothing in the US is kept by charity shops. Clothing that is kept is usually trendy, high-in-value fabrics that are easily thrifted.

The other 90% of the clothing, closer to the fast fashion end of the donations, goes to textile recycling firms, where 70% of the donated clothing is turned into industrial cleaning items (rags, cloths), and 20-25% is sold on to an international market. The report indicates that whilst some used products are sold to low-income customers abroad at a lower price, most of the resold clothing still ends up in a landfill as US sizes fail to fit the global average. This warrants extra care when it comes to all the good-hearted intentions out there: if you’re style isn’t thrift-worthy, your donation might just be to a landfill.

Illusory self-control and hyper-consumerism

A moderate participation in Black Friday would also seem like a better idea than a total blow-out, but it sounds rather idyllic to me. Two days ago, Delphine Batho, France’s former environment minister, proposed that Black Friday be banned as part of a new anti-waste bill that is yet to be debated, explaining that: “You can’t at the same time reduce green house emissions and call for frenzied consumerism”. In response, the trade council of France claimed that “Using the word frenzy gives the impression that consumers are not committed and responsible citizens.” It fails to miss that exact point: humanity’s biggest vice is probably its failure to act moderately. This failure has contributed not only to hyper-consumerism, but is the leading cause of global warming and the climate crisis.

Slow fashion and privilege

So perhaps the solution is just to cut out all fast fashion completely, and to only invest in high-quality, durable, ethically-sourced and produced, sustainable, biodegradable, compostable, green products. You’re not alone if with every word you felt the price of the product you have in mind increase. Whereas fast fashion is a huge contributor to water and air pollution, greenhouse gases, and waste production, slow fashion is only its elitist antonym. How are low income earners expected to participate in slow fashion to the same degree as moderate to high income earners. Would this mean that only the wealthiest gain access to high quality, durable, and expensive goods?

Slow fashion creates yet another socio-economic rift between those who are in a position of privilege, and those who have no other alternative than to buy poorly-produced, temporary fast fashion. This perpetuates fashion’s hierarchy which is still very much based on social and financial status.

Just for fun: Blaming women, ’cause why not

All of that sounds terrible, and if you actually are a moderate consumer during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, then surely there is another group of heavy consumers that can be held accountable.

The practice of blaming women for absolutely everything is not unheard of, but if you thought they were the root of the problem, the big instigators and upholders of Black Friday and shopping, think twice. A 2019 report done by PricewaterhouseCoopers on Black Friday and Cyber Monday analysing UK consumers indicates that men are more likely to shop for Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals than women are, and more likely to buy for themselves (77%) than for their family (62%). Women, on the other hand, use the event as an occasion to save money (62% vs 56%) and to shop for others.

Similar statistics are provided by Finder for US Black Friday shoppers, with 88% of men saying they will participate in the event, vs 85% of women. Men are also more likely to regret their purchases than women (56% vs 49%), making them more likely to throw out their buys. The statistical differences are marginal, however, and the final conclusion is that somehow, someway, even those of us with good intentions, are almost all to blame. Oops.

Consider a shop-stop, and if not:

If buying only what you truly need doesn’t sound like fun, especially around Christmas time, then support unpackaged products, eco-friendly materials, and avoid being assumptive when it comes to understanding what a “sustainability” label means. Look for certifications such as the Butterfly Mark, and items that have been up-cycled and recycled. Opt to support local shops in person instead of ordering online, and if you do order online, go for standard shipping to save on fuel emissions. Happy Morbid Friday.