We usually ask artists about their own work. This time we asked a different question.
We wanted to know what artwork, done by another artist working on Magic: The Gathering, did they find particularly inspiring, and why?
Pete Venters, Randy Gallegos, Carl Critchlow, Matt Stewart, Ed Beard Jr. and Steve Argyle answer this question for you today.
If you’re curious for more, we're also linking to their individual interviews, so remember to check those out too!
Let's get to it.
These days there are so many truly exceptional paintings that it's near impossible to pick a favorite. So, I'm going to go way back in time to the first piece of Magic art that really made me stop in my tracks. That artwork is Horror of Horrors (Legends) by Mark Tedin, which left me just staring at the card repeatedly.
It's so visceral and disturbing and I was always finding something new in it. The piece really put Tedin on the map for me, and I got to meet him just a few months later. We've now known each other for almost 26 years.
Honorable mentions go to: A ridiculously high percentage of everything Scott M Fischer and Alexi Briclot create.
I'm gonna go a little different here and go old-school, though there are many great illustrations I could choose over the history of Magic. "Hymn to Tourach" by the late Quinton Hoover is my pick for today (and really one of my top 5 of all Magic, probably).
Quinton's work was already a standout among early MtG, easily the best draftsman of the first generation of artists in the game. While his line work, always prominent, was usually lyrical and tightly controlled, Hymn to Tourach was quite a bit more chaotic than usual for him.
The composition is highly abstract at first read, but it also clearly reveals itself as these three wizards conspiring about something. That leftmost figure is discernible almost entirely because the point of his hood is recognizable. But what I particularly loved was the rough and varied line weight of the inking this time. It feels raw and helps the feeling of motion of the cloaks. Wish I would have picked up this original back in the day
I think my favorite artist has to be Mark Zug although I could have picked many others including Jesper Elsing, Wayne Reynolds or Jim Murray.
The best things about Mark's work (imho;)) are his colour palette and lighting, the solidity and design of his characters and the painterly nature of his work in general.
So I pick 'Rhox' - SO much better than mine!!
Man, that's a difficult one, as there are so many to choose from. I guess at the moment I'd focus on Ryan Pancoast. I love his work generally, but I really admire his handling of color. It's his use of limited palettes, the huge harmonious range of colors that you can get from just 3-5 pigments that has fascinated me of late. Ryan's Gumroad tutorial videos have influenced led me to attempt my own limited palettes, and i think, improved me as a painter.
I would pick maybe "Ayara, First of Locthwain", but any of them is fine.
Ed Beard Jr.
I have always found Melissa Benson’s “Touch of Death” to be a dynamic and yet classic interpretation of the reaper. Melissa somehow manages to pull off the bright colored pencil style coloring and still hold on to that classic fantasy look.
The centering of the composition by the starburst at the tip of the finger balances the piece compositionally and structurally and at the same time the foreshortening perspective with the arm reached back holding the scythe completes the feeling of movement.
Bonus answer: Steve Argyle
That's a really hard question. It's impossible to narrow down to just one. The Magic community is like my family, and the artists are my brothers and sisters.
For being just damn inspiring in their visions for Magic: Jeremy Jarvis, Cynthia Sheppard, Alexi Briclot, Jason Engle, Chris Rahn. These amazing artists are the reason Magic has so much flavor, so much great work from all the other artists.
For damn incredible work: Donato, Howard Lyon, Chris Rahn, Brom, Magali Villeneuve, Tyler Jacobson. Each work by these artists is a masterpiece. I'm constantly inspired by their art.
For being awesome people to be friends with: Jason Engle, Howard Lyon, Drew Baker, Mark Poole, and the sorely missed Chris Rush. I have a decade of wonderful experiences with these artists. Touring the world and drinking too much scotch with Jason, deep-diving into oil painting with Howard, Michelin star dining with Mark, convention shenanigans with Chris, and too many awesome times with Drew to list. These artists are true friends, and magnificent people. Many of my all-time best memories are with these guys.
Magic artists are some of the best people I know. Kind and sharing people who work tirelessly to make the world a more beautiful place. When I got my first big magic piece, Chandra Ablaze, I contacted Donato for advice. At the time, we'd never met or spoken. He called me and spent a good two hours of his time. When I asked how I could repay him, he said "This is how art works. We help each other. This is who we are."
I've taken that to heart, and I've seen it in every Magic artist I've had the honor of knowing. We don't do it for fame, Odin knows we don't do it for money. We do it because we love breathing life into inspiring stories. We do it because we love seeing people light up when they see their favorite characters and scenes realized. We do it because of a fundamental belief that art makes life better for everyone.