Howdy folks. Have you ever heard the phrase “I have to tell you this story to tell you that one?" Well this is like that. A couple times. This is “My First Three Months of Magic Art.”
I’m still not entirely sure how I discovered the Facebook groups MTG Art Market and MTG Art Exchange. I think it was one of those rare times when Facebook suggests something that’s actually relevant, and not just the last thing I typed into Google. At any rate, I found them just recently at the beginning of May 2017. It was the first time since I started playing as a kid back in the early 2000s that I had paid attention to the availability and possibility of original Magic art. I vaguely remember seeing it available on some vendor sites, but only ever haphazardly and in small quantity. The difference now was I was an adult (kind of) and had some resources (a little) to be able to pursue something other than my landslide of graduate school work that was quickly coming to a close.
Story #1: Prologue, or Why I care about Magic art.
I started playing Magic with a group of friends in 2003, during Onslaught block, and the Scourge set was my first prerelease. My best friend Joey taught me how to play at the kitchen table, and from that point on I was hooked. I loved everything about Magic; the game itself, the fantastic beasts and creatures, the set storylines, and especially the childhood antics that happened during FNM and all-night drafts over summer vacation. We played pretty consistently up through Time Spiral block, which was right about when everyone went to college in Fall of 2007. At the University of Maryland- College Park, I was randomly assigned, into a forced triple I might add, with not only someone from my high school, not only someone who I was very close friends with way back when in elementary school, but also someone who played a little Magic, unknown to either of us at the time. Out of 24,000 people, the gaming gods were surely at work here. This kept game the game alive for the next two years as Aaron and I played when we needed a study break and hit local prerelease events. But at the end of sophomore year I got accepted into a program with assigned housing and he transferred schools for a different program, and Magic went on a temporary hiatus outside of occasional casual play.
Story #2: Back in the Saddle
It wasn’t until a year or so after graduation in the Spring of 2013 when Joey and I decided to pick Magic back up, right before the release of Dragon’s Maze. We wanted to see what had changed.
The answer? Everything. And yet, nothing at all.
Since then we have regularly played prereleases and events at our FLGS, traveled to GPs, played some SCG events, and just played, in person or on Skype, to keep the Magic alive.
You might say, “Geez Donny, why did you have to tell us all that? We get it. You like Magic.”
And you would be correct. But I don’t just like Magic. Like so many other players and collectors drawn to the hobby, it’s now a part of me, whether I like it or not. And it’s ultimately why when I discovered the art collecting side of Magic, I just couldn’t quench my Thirst for Knowledge.
Since high school I’ve dealt in art, antiques and objects, and handled everything from 16 th century silver to contemporary paintings. I’ve sold on eBay, ran the antique show circuits up and down the East Coast, and amassed a personal and reclectic collection comprised of everything from Wedgwood Jasperware to American coin silver spoons. On social media, I’m @YoungAntiqueman and have a reputation amongst friends and colleagues as one of the young- gun in the business with an upstart collection and no fear of the future of the market. Antiques and art have been my business for as long as I’ve been able to have a business.
“Again, Donny, why does this matter…?”
Because even after all the wonderful, unique, rare and interesting things I’ve bought, sold, seen, and collected, nothing hit me right in the nostalgia like original Magic art. I knew I had found another serious avenue to expand not only my participation in the hobby but my collection in general. It came just as I was finishing my Museum Studies degree, and everything just seemed to click.
Story #3: Piece #1
So I told you those two stories to tell you these two stories.
I wasn’t exactly sure in what direction I wanted to go to try and acquire my first piece. I surfed the backlogs of the Magic Art Facebook pages, paid close attention to current offerings, and checked other internet and artists sites. I saw some things I liked, some that were well out of my budget, and others that were priced definitely priced right, and nice pieces, but just didn’t do it for me. I ultimately figured when the right piece crossed my path at the right price, I just needed to be ready. Turn out that time wasn’t too far off, because only a few weeks into my search I purchased Izzet Cluestone by Raoul Vitale from a collector on one of the Magic Art Facebook pages. While a mostly insignificant card in terms of gameplay, it was living room friendly, from my favorite of the Ravnica guilds, and also from the first set I played with when returning to Magic. A perfect first pick-up. It headed straight to the framers upon arrival, where the inner frame we found literally looks custom made for the piece. It now hangs right inside my office door.
So I was done for a little while. I had my first piece, and could just spectate until something else came up that was as meaningful or memorable. Turns out, that only took about week.
Story #4: Piece #2
One evening, shortly after purchasing Izzet Cluestone I was browsing in the OMA store online just taking a look again, and I noticed one of the pieces was missing. It was Crush of Wurms by Christopher Moeller. When I first saw it, this fell into that category of “things I liked that were out of my budget” but that card brought back so many memories. I had always liked the art, and when I first started playing in Onslaught block I was all about Big Green- beasts, wurms, and the other gigantic denizens of the Krosan Forest in Otaria. And to add to my interest, I had also just read that Moeller had retired from Magic illustration. His pieces would surely begin to disappear.
You know that thing where once something isn’t available anymore, it makes you want it all the worse? Well this was that kind of thing. The only saving grace, if you could call it that, was that it was 1.) It was out of my price range and 2.) It was now sold, apparently. Oh well, not a big deal, things come and go right?
Perhaps a week after that, I got a notification of a sale post on one of the MTG Facebook groups. Routine, yes, but I usually save these and check back from time to time to read the comments, see what might’ve sold, and so on. Well wouldn’t you know, on this particular post, on a random check back, Crush of Wurms was pictured in the comments and added to the original post! It had come back!
Long story short, I reached out to the current owner, got all the info I needed, expressed my interest, and said it would be just a little bit before I could purchase it due to my other recent acquisition. One of the benefits of being a peddler of sorts is that extra money can be had with an equal amount of extra work, and I set right to it. The seller was more than accommodating, we each checked in from time to time, and after the little while it took to get the money together it arrived home. I just picked it up from the framers last week, and am more than elated with how it turned out.
So that’s that. I have these two pieces in my collection currently, and will probably cool my jets until Illuxcon in October (I only live about an hour and a half or so away). Perhaps I’ll see some of you reading this at the event! It will be my first one, and I’m more than excited.
Well, that’s my Magic art story- the first three months of it anyway. I hope you enjoyed this looking glass into the journey of a new collector, and perhaps I’ll be back to write a 6 month update, post Illuxcon? I look forward to becoming more involved with this great collecting community and exploring the infinite facets of original Magic Art.
- Donny Caltrider