I‘m not an art guy.
Let me rephrase: I like Magic art however my expertise is not art, it’s design. I appreciate looking at art and I have several art prints of Magic cards up in my home office area (I’ve got the John Avon Unhinged basic land cycle at my actual work office, and I still have this print even though it’s not hanging at that card store at the moment). If you asked me what made X piece of art so good I couldn’t tell you besides “It’s pleasing to my eye.” I pick up lessons here and there, especially from constantly name dropped on my blog Mike Linnemann (You might have seen his work here).
So when he asked me to help promote this Kickstarter for the GP Vegas Art Show (http://kck.st/2nqMGGf) even though I won’t be able to attend, I was more than happy to help. Why?
I think Magic art is amazing, and more people should enjoy it.
Also, I’ve seen what WotC does when it displays its art.
Here’s the thing, WotC hasn’t taken advantage of one of its best assets about the game: the art itself. If you take a look at almost any other card game, the art quality on average isn’t close to what Magic can produce. No matter if you think the look of the game has become more homogeneous the past number of years with the storytelling, the quality of the art is unrivaled. Even the “bad” art pieces of Magic would be great in other games. So why hasn’t WotC done more to show it off?
Some of it might have to do with artist licensing behind the scenes, but to be fair it wasn’t a priority to get the art in front of non-Magic players for years. Even now, WotC has finally started selling world-creation hard-cover table books filled with art that you can buy for Zendikar, Innistrad, Kaladesh and, coming in July, Amonkhet. But the physical display of the art it self has something less to be desired. They’re still smallish compared to the real pieces and the books are still aimed at Magic players.
At PAX Prime, where there has been growing excitement and importance placed on the Magic parties and events, there’s been one thing that has been an after thought: the art. Sure, you have huge banners with the faces of the Planeswalkers, the threats of the world and the landscapes to get people in the mood of the new plane. There’s also the oversized cards (which are bigger than normal cards), but it’s still within the same card frame. It’s common to see one or two pieces blown up to huge proportions and plastered as banners all over the place.
But it wasn’t until this year that there was a little importance placed on the art (if there were in past years, obviously I missed them or just don’t recall it). New art that showed off characters and spells were hung up on walls, but placed in the “learn to play” room where the focus wasn’t on the art but on the new players learning about the cards. I have a feeling the art was only placed there because there were frames of other art/pictures in the room naturally so might as well cover up the non-Magic art.
And they did just cover them up.
The new art was laid over the top of the framed art glass. Either it was printed paper and taped on or was a huge sticker and it was stuck on to the glass.
If you didn’t look too closely, you couldn’t really tell. It wasn’t a bad job, but it wasn’t a sufficient job. It wasn’t a display of the art but like, “Hey, this could work, let’s just shove it in here.” And I understand that thinking, there was more important things to worry about the event like the new live opening show and the World Championships and running hundreds of drafts. Art gets overlooked.
Which it always seems to.
This is why I helped back this Kickstarter. The two people I know running it know what they’re doing and they’re taking it seriously. I trust Mike Linnemann and Josh Kruse (who ran the Magic Art Token kickstarters I’ve talked about in the past). They aren’t paying me or anything for this, and even if I wasn’t asked by them I would still support and write something up. These are the two guys I would, and do, trust for this project. The whole point of this art show is to properly display Magic art as it should be.
And this isn’t some new age Ango Goblobbian “you either get it or you don’t get it” art hanging in a snobbery hipster gallery. It’s full size art of Magic cards properly displayed instead of the inches x inches rectangles printed on cardboard you’re used to seeing. And you’ve got art from Magic’s three favorite planes along with its newest (time will tell if Amonkhet is a favorite plane, it’s not a rub against the set), Mirrodin, Innistrad and Ravnica. To see the full art up close is a different experience.
This always happens when we see the full art online after a card is previewed. There’s details you don’t notice before, or part of the art has been cropped because of space. To have that art up close in real life and not through a computer screen is an experience you don’t get very often. How many times have you seen pictures but been like, “meh” until you stand there and experience it? I’ve seen the Mona Lisa but I haven’t “seen” the Mona Lisa.
It’s not just art that’s there either. You have sketches of famous pieces, concept art of the worlds, and it looks like a statue of everyone’s favorite/hated Commander Atraxa, Praetor’s Voice. WotC has never done something like this, especially not PAX. The closest we’ve ever gotten are the hardcover books that they’re now selling. Again, those are just printed images on a paper, not the actual physical art.
You could just back it because you get the digital guide or the Cardmajigs tokens or the Art Pin, or even the awesome new playmat inspired by Amonkhet. Here’s the key: The money is going to opening the art show with free admission. Anyone can enter the Art Show and experience the art and the history of this game. You don’t have to be part of the GP to walk into the doors, you could be a young kid who’s just starting out and wanting to see what else has been made from this new card game you just discovered. Or a returning player to see what you’ve missed. Or someone off the street and now want to learn the game because they fell in love with the art.
Having my full art John Avon basic land prints hanging in my office is much different than just seeing them on the table in my sleeves. One of my co-workers looked at the Island and wondered if it was a photograph. This is the art you’ve grown up playing, interacted with, and seen from MTGO or held in your hand. You can tell what it does just by looking at the art. Now is your chance to see it up close. Help it get to more players than ever before. There’s an emotional bond that we have to this art and to share it with everyone greatly benefits all involved.
At this moment they’re just $1,400 short. With your help they can get this project to the people of Las Vegas. They aren’t making any money from this, this is all going to host the event. I’m not a shill, I get asked to help promote Kickstarters on a frequent basis. I don’t talk about the ones that don’t fit with my interests (not that they’re bad projects, they’re not my cup of tea). I have Magic art on my walls, so I get this. Right above my computer desk on a shelf rests my Commander decks, and above those rests a Temple Garden print numbered and signed by Rob Alexander. I’m a Green/White fan at heart, so how could I pass up the Shockland that represents my colors? I may not own any original art, but I do appreciate it.
I’ve always wanted to go to GP Vegas, especially now. Life has precluded it from happening, and I’m especially disappointed this year. I’ve felt pretty blessed to enjoy some of the offerings that I’ve had here in Seattle, and I want other people to experience something unique and awesome down in Las Vegas. Knowing Mike and Josh, these are the guys I’d want handling an event like this and it’s not even close. They’re going to do it right, and I just wish I was down there to see this happen for myself.