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  • October 13, 2023 4 min read 0 Comments

    As part of our ongoing mission to highlight Magic artists, Coda was able to recently sit down with Anato Finnstark, the creator beautiful pieces like Call of the Ring.We hope you enjoy!

    With a portfolio that spans not only the wonderful world of Magic: the Gathering, but Middle-earth, the SoulsBorne universe, Dune and beyond, Anato Finnstark has been a stunning addition to the world of Magic. If you were in the hunt for the One Ring during the Tales of Middle-earth, then chances are you’ve become well0acquainted with Anato’s work already. Their piece Call of the Ring was chosen as the pack and box art for those coveted Collector booster. Outside of being featured heavily in the Lord of the Rings themed set, Finnstark has drawn all over the planes from Theros, Innistrad, Streets of New Capenna and beyond.

    call of the ring art anato

    C: So, for those who may know the art, but not the artist, could you give us a quick introduction: Who are you, where are you from and how did you learn to make art?

    Anato: My name is Anato Finnstark, illustrator specialized in Fantasy, I am from France, and I learned art by myself, self-taught.

    C: Self-taught? That's incredible, I love seeing when self-taught artists, regardless of discipline find success. I feel it breaks down this expectation that good and great art can only come by way of institutional learning. But, before I go down a rabbit hole, the first question: How did you come to Magic? Were you a long-time player of the game or did your pursuit of fantasy art lead you to it?

    Anato: I discovered Magic at the age of thirteen thanks to a friend. I fell in love with this game instantly. I remember coming across Greg Staple's illustration of Hypnotic Specter and I was instantly mesmerized by this incredible masterpiece.

    hypnotic specter art

    At the time I was totally obsessed with angels and dragons cards, I just found them simply beautiful and that drove me to collect them. I played for two or three years, then I stopped completely.

    Fourteen years later I received a message from an Artistic Director at MTG, Tom Jenko, who asked me if I wanted to work for them. It was one of the most beautiful moments of my life! In addition, he offered to illustrate an angel for my third card. It was truly an incredible accomplishment for me. And the fact that my gallery is made up of 95% Fantasy illustrations was a big help!

    C: So, this game has been a part of your story for a long time! In a lot of your art, you also have the most beautiful halo motifs. Personally, that's what brought me to your art was the illustration on and that big spiky crown/halo, I wonder if that has anything to do with your love of angels? Which incidentally follows into my next question: What sort of cards do you feel best lend themselves to your style and are those the cards you like illustrating the most or do you prefer something that makes you think outside the box?

    Anato: My love of angels comes from many sources, Magic being one of them and probably the most important, but of course they are an integral part of Christian iconography and have been represented by thousands of artists in through the ages in many ways. But it's true that if you like angels, today, MTG remains the most interesting breeding ground to explore in my opinion, because their variations are multiple and incredibly epic!

    To answer your question, I think that ritual or instant cards are my favorite to illustrate (even if I would love to illustrate a Dragon one day, wink wink MTG!) These are very interesting cards to make because they often leave more room for free interpretation, symbolism and graphic ideas.

    They often free themselves from the notion of space or environment, and this is something very liberating because it allows them to explore and integrate purely visual and aesthetic elements. The mystical archives of Strixhaven are a perfect example of what I'm talking about. And if I had to choose a color, I think that monochrome black, or multicolor in general, is what I like the most to illustrate.

    lightning bolt artday of judgment strixhaven art anato

    C: I see what you're saying about the Strixhaven mystical archives. Okay, final question and it's a big one: If you could choose any card to illustrate what would it be and what direction do you think you'd go? (I'm hoping for an Anato Finnstark Secret Lair drop one of these days)

    Anato: I think I would really like to illustrate the Ur-Dragon. It's a card I discovered 5 years ago when I started playing Magic, and immediately associated it with Ancalagon the Black (Silmarillion). The idea of a gigantic dragon accompanied by hundreds of other dragons is something that appeals to me immensely. I think my approach to this illustration would be rather classic, I will try to illustrate it in such a way as to emphasize the giganticism and the absurdity of such a vision.

    I am aware that my answer is in total contradiction with that of the previous question! A secret lair with only my illustrations would indeed be an incredible accomplishment for me, perhaps one day!

    C: That would be so cool to see. The way you described it made me instantly think of plane formations. But moreover, I really appreciate your time. It is always nice to get to sit down with someone who is helping create tomorrow's next classic card art. Thank you so much Anato and we (especially me) can't wait to see what you bring to life in the future!