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July 10, 2023 6 min read

Hello world!

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Sigmund Ausfresser, and I have been a fan of Magic: the Gathering for nearly 26 years. That’s right, I’m old. I began playing when my stepbrother introduced me to the card game and have never looked back. My first booster packs were from Fifth Edition and Visions, and I distinctly remember a couple of the first rares I opened: City of Brass and Desertion.


In addition to its power level, I was awed at the unique style that popular artist Richard Kane Ferguson (RKF) implemented in each of his pieces. As I browsed my collection, I could readily identify any card for which he painted the art. I’m jumping ahead, however.

Some More Background

Despite my appreciation for Magic’s art, I never really focused on it. My suspicion is that if the art wasn’t so powerful and elaborate, I may not have stuck with the game for so many years. However, it was never in the forefront of my mind while I enjoyed the game—the effect Magic’s art had on me was more a subconscious influence, yielding an in-game aesthetic unrivaled by any other.

Instead, my focus continued to be on gameplay and community. Magic is how I met a couple of friends in a difficult situation: starting at a new school district in the seventh grade. This card game helped me make connections with at least a couple people, forging bonds that have lasted multiple decades.

As for my gameplay preferences, we were 100% casual players through and through. Every time I had a few bucks to spare, I would walk to my local hobby shop, Hobby Masters in Red Bank, New Jersey, and purchase an affordable booster (that usually meant Chronicles, Fallen Empires, Homelands,or Mirage). I’d marvel at the contents of each pack, eager to sleeve up a new card to impress my friends.

This is effectively how I played Magic from 1997 to 2007. Around that time, I discovered Limited—a format that would shape my interests in the game for the following few years. My first draft format was a doozie: Time Spiral. The complexity of the set with its numerous keywords and abilities was far too much for a beginner, yet I persevered and learned.

The printing of one card then changed my trajectory going forward: Ad Nauseam.

ad nauseam

The artwork itself is spot-on for the card’s name and flavor, but it was its ability that got my creative juices flowing. I promptly built a deck filled with zero mana artifacts, rituals, Ad Nauseam, and Tendrils of Agony. Without realizing, I had built my first competitive Legacy deck.

My Magic Finance Phase

Diving into the Legacy format made Magic into something I never considered before: a game about money. Legacy cards are expensive! Thanks to the controversial Reserved List, the value of my collection climbed rapidly from 2008 to 2020. As I observed this trend, I became more interested in the financial aspects of the game.

This culminated in my writing position with Quiet Speculation, where I covered Magic finance from November 2011 to June 2023. The trends of card values are one of the most complex aspects of Magic, involving gameplay, psychology, and economics. The pursuit helped refresh the hobby for me, and it kept me interested in Magic despite having many other life priorities inhibit me from enjoying gameplay as much.

My goal became single-mindedly focused: to leverage Magic: the Gathering to fund my two kids’ college educations. I figured that I couldn’t play the game as much due to family and professional commitments, but I could still stay involved with the community by buying and selling cards to slowly grind a little bit of value over time.

Then, in early 2023, I decided to scale way back on the Magic finance scene and instead shift focus to something brand new.

Original Magic Art

As I mentioned before, the artwork of Magic has always been an important background feature that contributed to my enjoyment of the hobby. While I rarely sat there and stared at a card’s artwork for minutes on end, there were a few noteworthy exceptions that gripped my interest like no other.

For example, being an expert on older cards printed in Magic’s first two years of existence, I found myself gravitating towards Kaja Foglio’s work. My all-time favorite card is Shahrazad, and the artwork on that card has much to do with this.

In fact, much of the Arabian Nights set caught my eye for its unique themes and art. Another favorite of mine is All Hallow’s Eve by Christopher Rush.

all hallows eve

Before there was Innistrad, we had All Hallow’s Eve and that artwork always gets me excited for Halloween.

Despite my appreciation for classic cards and their art, I must acknowledge that modern day card artwork is also spectacular, and often more technically sophisticated than the card from 1993-1994. The amount of detail and precision an artist implements can blow me away.

So much so, that I decided earlier this year that I wanted to explore the original Magic art market to see if I could purchase a piece of artwork for myself. I figured this would be a fantastic, new way to enjoy this hobby—a way that would not require as much of my time, but would be something I could easily appreciate and share from the comfort of my own living room. No dice required!

Thus Begins the Journey

Over the past three months I have dived into the deep end of original Magic art collecting. It turns out this is an immensely complicated market; with many factors I had never even considered before.

For example, I had no clue that there were so many options when it came to purchasing Magic art. I always assumed that the process was linear: an artist is contacted to create a piece, they paint it, send it to Wizards of the Coast, and the artwork is used on a card. While this process does take place, there can be many twists and turns along the way.

An artist may choose to create some preliminary sketches to get the right feel for the card’s art direction. They may do a color study to optimize the colors for the piece. Artists may have personal preferences for the medium in which they choose to work—oil, acrylic, pencils, etc.

Then there’s the timing: some artists create their physical piece right away and use that as their final submission. Others prefer to work digitally, and then complete a physical painting of the art after the fact. Apparently, these decisions can impact the desirability and price of the art on the secondary market.

There are so many factors that I wasn’t aware of, and it has led to a true journey of self-education and self-discovery.

It is this journey that I want to share here, on the Original Magic Art website. For anyone who is relatively new to Magic art, or has never considered the pursuit but is interested in the economics of the market, this article series will be of particular interest. There is so much to consider when diving into this market, and there are big numbers at play here—never mind an UnlimitedBlack Lotus sells for $10,000, Magic artworks sell for north of that with no issue.


The 1/1 The One Ring card may have caught the Magic community by storm, but Magic art traders deal in 1/1’s every day. This is one of the most intriguing components of the Magic art market—the fact that for the most part, only one instance of the art exists. If someone wants it, they must pay up or else it’ll disappear from the market indefinitely.

Wrapping It Up

Buckle in and prepare for a deep dive into the Magic art world through the eyes of a novice. Once I decided that I wanted to buy a piece of Magic art, my pursuit has been accelerated into a strange, beautiful world. Instead of dealing in cardboard with 1000’s, 10,000’s, or 100,000’s of copies available, I instead pursued a world where every piece is unique.

This leads to market dynamics I never could have predicted, prices I never could have expected, and a warm and welcoming community I never could have dreamed of. I hope readers will stick with me as I unpack this journey and share everything I’ve learned so far, one week at a time.

Sigmund Ausfresser

Sigmund first started playing Magic when Visions was the newest set, back in 1997. After playing casual Magic for about ten years, he tried his hand at competitive play. It took about two years before Sigmund started taking down drafts. Since then, he moved his focus towards Legacy and MTG finance. Now that he's married and works full-time, Sigmund enjoys the game by exploring the original Magic art market with the hopes of acquiring a couple pieces to hang in his home one day soon.

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